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Contacting Professors for Prospective Schools?


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Hello all!

First off a big thanks to all the users on this forum- it has been so helpful during this application process.

I am currently applying for PhD programs in Neuroscience and was wondering what others' thoughts were on contacting professors to express my interest in possibly working with them. I have heard that this is can be very beneficial but I am worried that it might come across a little forward and possibly annoying. Clearly these people are very busy and presumably receive many e-mails about stuff like this. What were others' experiences with this? What did you say?

Thanks in advance!

Ben

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Hello Ben G, welcome to thegradcafe!

A year before applying to graduate schools, I contacted professors through email, introducing myself and expressing my interest to work with them. I clarified some things about the admission process and raised my concerns; I wanted to apply to MS/PhD programs in Neuroscience but I was (and still am) lacking hands-on experience on that subject as I have been working as a plant molecular biologist. Out of the five or so professors that I sent a message, only one responded. He was very kind and honest.

I did not end up applying to that university nor to a graduate program in Neuroscience but the advice that he gave was helpful. With regard to this whole "contacting-professors-before-application' issue, I suggest that you go ahead and send your target advisors an email. Write a message that will make you appear as a professional, knowledgeable on your field yet inquisitive and open-minded at the same time. If you don't get replies at first, don't get discouraged; as you have said, these are very busy people you are dealing with.

In addition, here are some links with the same topic:

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I contacted professors in November and December and my applications were due in January and February. I sent them an e-mail telling them a little bit about myself and my interests, why I was contacting them, then I attached my transcript and CV. Almost all of them replied to me. A few of the e-mails I sent out very last minute in December, hoping to set up a meeting while I was in Toronto. When the professors didn't respond right away, I simply showed up at the school and was able to speak to the prof in charge of graduate admissions who then referred me to one of the professors, who then spoke to another professor about me and we had a Skype conversation later.

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Hello Ben G, welcome to thegradcafe!

A year before applying to graduate schools, I contacted professors through email, introducing myself and expressing my interest to work with them. I clarified some things about the admission process and raised my concerns; I wanted to apply to MS/PhD programs in Neuroscience but I was (and still am) lacking hands-on experience on that subject as I have been working as a plant molecular biologist. Out of the five or so professors that I sent a message, only one responded. He was very kind and honest.

I did not end up applying to that university nor to a graduate program in Neuroscience but the advice that he gave was helpful. With regard to this whole "contacting-professors-before-application' issue, I suggest that you go ahead and send your target advisors an email. Write a message that will make you appear as a professional, knowledgeable on your field yet inquisitive and open-minded at the same time. If you don't get replies at first, don't get discouraged; as you have said, these are very busy people you are dealing with.

In addition, here are some links with the same topic:

Thank you very much for all the advice. I will definitely do so. Sorry about the redundant post, I tried searching for a similar thread but I came up short!

Ben

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I contacted professors in November and December and my applications were due in January and February. I sent them an e-mail telling them a little bit about myself and my interests, why I was contacting them, then I attached my transcript and CV. Almost all of them replied to me. A few of the e-mails I sent out very last minute in December, hoping to set up a meeting while I was in Toronto. When the professors didn't respond right away, I simply showed up at the school and was able to speak to the prof in charge of graduate admissions who then referred me to one of the professors, who then spoke to another professor about me and we had a Skype conversation later.

Thanks for the info- this definitely sounds like the way to go.

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