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Are compliments normal from POI?


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I am trying to walk a tightrope here by posting this: I don't want to sound like I'm "bragging" (because I'm really not... I really don't think highly of myself) but I'm also genuinely curious.

 

I've emailed a couple really influential POIs in my area of interest and they've been very cordial in a normal way but also included little notes in their response like "I would really enjoy working with you" and "You seem like an ideal candidate." 

 

Is this normal? Is it kind of part of the "POI response" boiler plate that they probably send out to all students that email them? I know it's within each department's best interests to encourage students to apply, even if they have no chance. If so, I don't want these little comments to get to my head and make me think I have a better chance than I really do at getting into these Top 20 schools. If not, I want to do a little happy dance.

 

Any feedback is appreciated! 

Edited by 1Q84
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Not sure if it's "normal," per se, but I don't think it's abnormal. I would also assume that such statements are sincere -- a POI has no reason to say something like that without meaning it. I've had one POI do this for me, complimenting my preparedness, commenting at length about other programs / POIs that would be a good fit for me, and ultimately telling me he'd like to work with me if I apply etc. Put yourself in their shoes: if you were to come across someone with interests that mesh greatly with your own, wouldn't you want to work with that person?

 

So ultimately this is a good thing for you, I think. It's certainly not a guarantee that you'll get admitted, but it might give you a little positive bump in the process.

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I am trying to walk a tightrope here by posting this: I don't want to sound like I'm "bragging" (because I'm really not... I really don't think highly of myself) but I'm also genuinely curious.

 

I've emailed a couple really influential POIs in my area of interest and they've been very cordial in a normal way but also included little notes in their response like "I would really enjoy working with you" and "You seem like an ideal candidate." 

 

Is this normal? Is it kind of part of the "POI response" boiler plate that they probably send out to all students that email them? I know it's within each department's best interests to encourage students to apply, even if they have no chance. If so, I don't want these little comments to get to my head and make me think I have a better chance than I really do at getting into these Top 20 schools. If not, I want to do a little happy dance.

 

Any feedback is appreciated! 

I will both encourage your optimism and temper it. First of all, I don't know whether or not these responses are normal, but I do know that they shouldn't be expected. These professors were probably speaking honestly, and you can take to heart that, based on the information you provided in these emails, you are a strong candidate. Yay! That being said, their responses are no guarantee that you'll be accepted into that specific program because they have yet to look at your application in the context of all the other applications. I had positive interactions with POI's, like you, and I did do well in my application season. But I also got into schools where I had no previous contact with POIs and was rejected from schools where I had wonderfully positive interactions. 

 

So, do a dance! You are a strong candidate! Just don't go buying college memorabilia yet. 

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Thank you for the insightful feedback as per usual, Wyatt and proflorax.

 

 

Although this has me quite anxious now: 

 

But I also got into schools where I had no previous contact with POIs and was rejected from schools where I had wonderfully positive interactions. 

 

 

 

I guess that's just how grad apps go...!

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A good friend who is attending a program in the Northeast didn't get into a prominent program in NY, even receiving a letter from Extremely Distinguished Professor apologizing for the rejection because said professor really wanted to work with Good Friend. Sometimes a POI is just overruled, or recently got new doctoral students, or the dept was just looking for different areas for that particular year. You never know (unless someone within the committee actually tells you). There's no one way to interpret compliments from POIs and what role that will play in the application process. But that doesn't take away from the compliment paid to you.

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