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Is it just a curious coincidence ?


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These are the replies that I got from professors before applying and while waiting for the decisions.......

School A: First Professor


1a.) You have a good resume. Do apply to( ....) and mention in your statement that you are interested in working with me.

I applied and was constantly touch with the particular professor updating him about my work and thesis and later he also had contacted me for the write up for an Independent study that I did last semester....The mail read thus...

1b.) Could you send me a write up on your independent study on (....). It would help me evaluate your application on a more technical basis.

and I did sent him the write up without delay.

School B : Second Professor


1.) I'm interested in your application. I encourage you to apply to (....). I am looking for new students in my group and would like to consider you.

Similarly I kept in touch updating about my work although I did not hear from the professor later. This school was my safe bet as well.

School C : Third Professor


1a) Thank you very much for your interest in my research program. Your interests are certainly well correlated with mine. I won't have time to study your paper for about 1.5 wks, as I'm very busy right now with (.......). I also value your industry experience. We are building

a (...........................) to demonstrate new techniques. It seems that you may have some of the skills that would be needed to do experiments with that testbed. Please let me know when you have applied, and I will look at your application and letters of recommendation.

Later when I updated her about my work.........

1b) Thank you for your continued interest. I am printing out your paper, and hope to take a look at it soon.(....................). Still no word on my pending (.....) proposal, but I know I won't hear anything for a few months yet.

School D : Fourth Professor


When I mailed one of the professors albeit late march, I got the reply like this.....

1) I have not had the chance to look at your file earlier for some reason. At this point, I do not have any RAs to offer. However, I do share your interest in (........), and may have some funding in the future. So, please keep in touch. If you interested in getting admitted to (........) (without aid at this point), I can make a recommendation.

Of course I wanted to and sent the professor a reply promptly even though I know its without funds.

It is quite frustrating when coincidentally all the above schools rejected admission to their programs :( . I am just happy that before I need to endure all these rejects I got an excellent offer from another school but where I had no contacts and was doubtful of admission. It will be worth to wait for the decision of another of my safe bets, where the professor had personally talked with me more than a couple of times and made an informal offer for admission as well. All the rejection letters have a common pattern though - too many applicants to the program and hence highly qualified students might also be rejected. I know it as I have seven rejection letters with me for my life, but I doubt whether it is just a platitude for all rejects this year.

I am kind of quite determined to find out the reason for this pattern of rejections. I had sent mails to department asking them what I need to improve my application next time around, but not heard from any so far. As regarding my credentials, my SoP is, I would say very good and focused because I am sure what I wanted to do for my Phd and that too in the latest field of research on which I am working now. Other credentials I assume were good so as to get a replies like the above ones (I am sure I have not bluffed in my resume). The LOR from my adviser is going to be excellent.

Things that I see as a reason are:


1. LOR from other two referees because I have not interacted with them much although I got top grades in their courses.

2. Schools are out of funds and they do not want to give admission to Phd without money.

3. And of course too many applicants this year makes it difficult to look at all the carefully prepared SoPs and LORs !!

4. Does the committee views international student (with a US degree in masters though) differently ?

5. or Quite simply they just bluffed when they sent those mails and found me not competitive when the real applications came in.

I am eager to hear comments from those who read this and more so if they had similar experience when applied this year or whenever. If there are any professor or people from some admission committee reading I would like to hear heir comments as well, like what other factors might have affected the admission.

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Hey, I just happened on your post and was interested because I had a somewhat similar experience. I was in close contact with a professor at my top choice university and had seen/spoken to her on several occasions. She told me she was very interested in my potential research idea, and even told my boss she was impressed with me and was planning on recommending me for admission to the committee. Let me tell you, that school was the quickest to reject me of all of them. I heard later from others that she does not have a lot of pull in the department, and that her research interests potentially didn't really represent the direction that department wanted to take with their research. Of course, I think on top of that my application was not strong enough -- this is a top-3 school, and most of the people accepted already had or were working on MAs and had a good amt of research experience, which I admittedly don't have. So I think it was a combination of the two. Anyway that's all I got... thought you might find it interesting. :)

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I've had a very similar experience with quite a few of my schools. One of them, a UC school has this professor who is absolutely top notch in the field and she had written to me on more than one occasion telling me that she loved a few of the ideas I'd written in my SOP and that she thought those would make excellent research material. She however emailed me before the graduate school could notify me of a decision and told me that the graduate school was likely to reject me because of lack of funds. She emphasized that there was nothing in my application that acted against me and that she would have loved to have me work with her and that this decision was purely financial. I was greatly disappointed as the PhD program I was interested in at this school was ranked 2 by US news and this professor is absolutely one of the most active and productive ones in the field.

Another professor from another UC school also had emailed me expressing interest but in the end the website showed the deny reason as "professor not available in the proposed field of study". I have no idea why! Here I guess the professor must have found something in my application that he didn't like but then I don't understand why they did not put up a deny reason that said "better applicants" or whatever.. this process stumps me.

A professor from another school once emailed me saying that though my research interests were slightly different he would like me to consider working in his lab and to try and see if I'd be interested in working on some of those things (haptics, multisensory perception, etc) and I had agreed. I've never heard back from him. He had seen my CV and writing samples before he wrote to me. I'm guessing my grades might have been a problem.

So yes, this is totally confusing. I don't think you should expect any honest answer or any reply at all from most of them.

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