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Get an assistantship from a different professor


nevasguy
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I made a huge mistake in my SoP. As expected, I mentioned a particular professor with whom I would like to do a research. But. A few weeks ago I received an acceptance letter with financial support information and there was an offer of assistantship from a different professor. I was confused and decided to google, maybe professor from my SoP retired this year or something. It appeared to be worse. He actually works for a different department. They both work in the same area, but still. 

 

Now, without understanding how the miracle of acceptance had happen, I want to ask you for an advice. First, I definitely should send a thank-you letter for the offer.

Obviously we haven't had an interview, so I want to ask him some questions, like maybe he wants me somehow prepare before arriving, but I don't want to look like a lost student.

 

 

P.S. To avoid some negative sense of this college, I have to say it's in top 20 according to US News

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It's not unheard of for students to get assistantships to different departments. There are a few threads in the Teaching forum about people studying one language who end up being told to TA for another language's intro class, etc.; also, some people in my program are in, say, archaeology, but got TA positions for forensics classes.

 

What respective fields are the two professors in? It may not be a total mistake on the department's part. Either way, you should call or email your program's chair to ask about it.

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Pears, thank you for your reply.

They both work in computer related field. Professor from my SoP works for Engineering Department, but professor who offered a research assistantship works for Computer Science department (to which I applied) and actually he is a chairman of CS department.

He actually does a really interesting research and I am related to it, but I feel like this stupid mistake would make him think that I'm imposed to do it and treat me like an outcast.

(Those sentences probably sound messy, but I hope you get the point)

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I am not sure if I get why you applied to the CS department if you wanted to work with someone from the Engineering department. In this context, I am not entirely surprised that you did not get an assistantship with your POI. Did you not see this coming?

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I applied to Computer Science because I want to continue my education there. When I was searching for an advisor to mention in my SoP I mistakenly assumed that the one I found works for CS Department (others who work in his field work in CS departments)

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I applied to Computer Science because I want to continue my education there. When I was searching for an advisor to mention in my SoP I mistakenly assumed that the one I found works for CS Department (others who work in his field work in CS departments)

In that case I would just follow through with the offer for now to find out if you are interested in working with this other prof.

Edited by Kleene
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Pears, thank you for your reply.

They both work in computer related field. Professor from my SoP works for Engineering Department, but professor who offered a research assistantship works for Computer Science department (to which I applied) and actually he is a chairman of CS department.

He actually does a really interesting research and I am related to it, but I feel like this stupid mistake would make him think that I'm imposed to do it and treat me like an outcast.

(Those sentences probably sound messy, but I hope you get the point)

 

Are you sure the letter said you'd be working with the unexpected professor? Sometimes you're paid using someone else's money technically, even if you're not working with them. I am paid under someone who isn't even remotely related to my undergraduate research.

 

Also, maybe the contact is unrelated to your research and pay entirely! I thought I got into a robotics lab somehow and was just gonna roll with it when I found out that's just how I was notified about this department, because the department head just happened to work in robotics. He actually had nothing to do with my offer. :P

 

edit: reordered, plus another point/story! A researcher who's in the area and not normally listed under the department still might be affiliated with the department.

How many e-mails have you gotten? Is it just the one, or multiple? Are they interested in setting up some kind of meeting?

Edited by PhDerp
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Are you sure the letter said you'd be working with the unexpected professor? Sometimes you're paid using someone else's money technically, even if you're not working with them. I am paid under someone who isn't even remotely related to my undergraduate research.

 

Also, maybe the contact is unrelated to your research and pay entirely! I thought I got into a robotics lab somehow and was just gonna roll with it when I found out that's just how I was notified about this department, because the department head just happened to work in robotics. He actually had nothing to do with my offer. :P

 

edit: reordered, plus another point/story! A researcher who's in the area and not normally listed under the department still might be affiliated with the department.

How many e-mails have you gotten? Is it just the one, or multiple? Are they interested in setting up some kind of meeting?

Yes, I'm sure, it exactly in the conditions of the offer.

 

Unfortunately, I got only one letter, the letter of acceptance. 

 

I guess I will just send him a thank-you letter (for the assistantship and how i wiling to work with him since my current research actually related to his) and ask him whether I need to read some specific stuff to prepare myself before entering his lab. 

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It's not unusual for some professors to have secondary appointments in other departments. CS and engineering are becoming much more integrated so I would first check which degree program you would be enrolled in. My PI has a primary appointment in the school of engineering but frequently takes students from the molecular cell biology program to fill spots in her lab. However since I am in the engineering program I would still receive an engineering PhD while people enrolled through MCB would receive biology PhDs. Just doublecheck and clarify your situation with your school before making any decisions, there's a good chance that they saw your interest in the other professor and are simply helping the transition of his rolls to other professors.

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