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Did you contact a professor before applying?

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I am applying for a Masters of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley and UCLA. I contacted a professor at UCB - and even sat-in on one of her classes - before applying for the program. At UCLA, I didn't contact any professors. 

 

Do Social Welfare graduate programs expect applicants to contact professors before applying? Do most graduate programs?

 

Did you contact a professor before applying for your Masters? If so, what level of contact did you have? How important do you think it is to contact a professor before applying?

 

Good luck to everyone who is waiting - I think I've got at least a month of waiting still .... :/

 

 

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I don't think it's necessary for a Master's. I only contacted a few professors before applying for PhDs and I have gotten interview requests from schools I where never contacted a POI. But I did always mention someone I would like to work with in my SoP (not essential for a Master's).

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Not before for me but after. I already put my POI's name in the application form's "preferred supervisor" section before I made an attempt to contact him through email. 

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I didn't, and was very worried at first - although I hear that it's not essential for a Masters (whew!). Although I did mention professors I would like to work with in my SOP. There are a lot of mixed messages around contacting POIs before applying.

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I contacted a few for one school (top choice) but not my second choice school (only applied to two schools).. I hope it helped me.. I guess I will see...

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I didn't for my masters, just for PhD. I did decide where to apply for a PhD based on responses though. Places that seemed uninterested in me, or that were rude, I didn't apply. You can kind of use it to gauge whether or not that is someone you'd really want to spend a lot of time with! For an MSW I don't think that is as important though, as you'll have classwork with a lot of different professors rather than just one supervisor. 

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Would it be a bad idea to contact them after applying?

 

That depends on when the deadline was. I personally feel that if they're already in the middle of reviewing applications, a late getting in touch might be interpreted as a panic attack (LOL). The POI might also even think that he or she is just your second choice, meaning you've given up hope that your top choice POI would respond. I don't know, just my thoughts. Haha 

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That depends on when the deadline was. I personally feel that if they're already in the middle of reviewing applications, a late getting in touch might be interpreted as a panic attack (LOL). The POI might also even think that he or she is just your second choice, meaning you've given up hope that your top choice POI would respond. I don't know, just my thoughts. Haha 

 

Good idea, didn't think of that.  i'll just wait and settle for sending them an updated transcript.  Slightly boosted GPA ftw!

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As far as I understand it, if you make contact with a professor who wants you as their student, then they will push your application through a bit by saying 'Yes, i want to work with this student.' etc. 

 

So as far as contacting after the deadline...I'm not sure. May be a little too late but I really doubt that it would hurt. You can just tell them you submitted the application somewhere in your email. 

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As far as I understand it, if you make contact with a professor who wants you as their student, then they will push your application through a bit by saying 'Yes, i want to work with this student.' etc. 

 

So as far as contacting after the deadline...I'm not sure. May be a little too late but I really doubt that it would hurt. You can just tell them you submitted the application somewhere in your email. 

 

It's my last shot at a PhD starting this year, so I'm not sure, I was just considering calling one of them and asking them questions about their aging program.

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I contacted most professors before considering applying.

If I had to do it over, I would definitely do it. They all were very interested in my research, helped me to build up a network of people in my field, and helped me know how to best apply to their programs. I even gained a mentor from the process, even though I couldn't apply to that program.

One even said that if I didn't get in, to contact him and he would let me know what to do for next time.

 

It cannot hurt to contact before. That being said, it shouldn't hurt to not contact. If you're an obvious fit, shouldn't you fare better than the person who contacted but wasn't such a good candidate?

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I contacted most professors before considering applying.

If I had to do it over, I would definitely do it. They all were very interested in my research, helped me to build up a network of people in my field, and helped me know how to best apply to their programs. I even gained a mentor from the process, even though I couldn't apply to that program.

One even said that if I didn't get in, to contact him and he would let me know what to do for next time.

 

It cannot hurt to contact before. That being said, it shouldn't hurt to not contact. If you're an obvious fit, shouldn't you fare better than the person who contacted but wasn't such a good candidate?

 

not necessarily...you should always contact a professor and see if they're willing to work with you. what's most important is letting that professor get a sense of who you are as a person and if they would like to work with you. if your research interests fit better with them than the other person who has had a ton of contact and established better relations with them, they're not going to take you. a fellow graduate student got accepted but her research interests were markedly different from her professor, but because they knew each other well through skype interviews and exchanged emails for half a year, she eventually said yes and pushed her application through the committee. 

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I contacted and visited every department/professors I was interested in (only 4 programs, though). As I'm an international applicant, that definitely helped in every aspect of my application.

Some of the benefits I can list:

- The professors could see that I was serious about the type of study I wanted to pursue (one eventually said, in these very words: "I'm impressed that you're taking the time, effort and expense to visit our department")

- It definitely helped on my decisions to what school would be my first and second choice

- I was able to write a SOP that was very very specific and tailored for each school/department

- While visiting a professor, in some cases others professors became interested in talking with me (always remember to send an email to graduate admissions office as well!). In one program, this "second professor" became my first choice in that school and I realized my first choice professor was a bit rude.

- Besides the meet with potential advisors, you get to see the atmosphere of the city, talk with some others grad students and so on.

- You end up having someone to email when you're desperate about your decision and it's March already.

 

I couldn't see myself applying to a school without making a contact whatsoever with a professor. If you can, I would visit the professors you're interested in.

Edited by airl

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