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Emailing POIs pre-application? One prof's thoughts


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One common topic of discussion here is whether or not it is a good idea to write to POIs prior to applying and/or what to say in these types of emails. I saw a professor give her point of view on a blog I regularly follow and thought I would share it here since it might be of interest to some forum members!


Blog post: http://tenureshewrote.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/grad-student-mentorship/


Of course, this is probably something that varies a lot from field to field, program to program and even probably person to person. This is a pseudoanonymous blog (the author did identify herself as a new professor in the sciences though).


And there are many other threads here with links to other articles on this topic--this is not meant to give "the" answer, just wanted to bring attention to an interesting blog post that I hope is timely for those who are applying this season.

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I have never heard an argument against writing POIs prior to applying.  What is the concern?  If it is not pushy, but is a personal, informed, introduction, I didn't know it could be a negative.

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I didn't know there could be a negative too until I read these forums and found that different countries and different fields have different expectations! In Canada, in my field, we are admitted directly to work with a professor so it's more like a job hire than anything else so I think it's natural to introduce yourself rather than just to submit your application. After all, if I was a professor, I would want to make my decision based on how well I get along with a potential student / how comfortable I feel working with them, not just what their GPAs and GREs say.


However, after being exposed to more fields/programs on these forums, I found out that 1) some US programs generally admit students via committee, and usually not directly to work with individual professors (i.e. they just admit the best X students) and 2) some fields explicitly tell applicants to NOT contact professors beforehand. I think that's strange but that's the way things are!

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