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Approaching Professor on-leave? + REAPPLYING


smellie
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Q1.

The professor I am interested in working with is listed as "on-leave" for 2009-10.

Would that hurt my chance of establishing contacts/being accepted?

Q2.

Has anybody reapplied or applied while being enrolled in a grad school and got better results?

I am entering second year of an MA program right now, and am applying for Ph.D programs. This means I would have a new set of LORers, a different Writing Sample, and a transcript at a grad-level. Will all this make any difference?

I must be insane to voluntarily put myself through this process again...

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Q1.

The professor I am interested in working with is listed as "on-leave" for 2009-10.

Would that hurt my chance of establishing contacts/being accepted?

Well, obviously it will hurt your chances of establishing contact with that specific professor. But lots of people get into programs without getting to know their potential supervisor all that well. If your supervisor has to be away for one year of your PhD, the first year is probably best, since you have the least direct contact.

I'll leave the second question to people who know better.

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Q1.

The professor I am interested in working with is listed as "on-leave" for 2009-10.

Would that hurt my chance of establishing contacts/being accepted?

It won't help, but it won't hurt you too badly either. You'll be preoccupied with courses your first year anyway, and by the time you get to do your own research your intended advisor will be back and available to work with.

Q2.

Has anybody reapplied or applied while being enrolled in a grad school and got better results?

I am entering second year of an MA program right now, and am applying for Ph.D programs. This means I would have a new set of LORers, a different Writing Sample, and a transcript at a grad-level. Will all this make any difference?

I didn't apply as an undergrad, but I know for a fact that the writing sample, LORs, research experience, and most probably SOP, I would have had then would have gotten me not nearly as far as the ones I used this cycle as a grad student got me. I can honestly say I was a much stronger applicant this year, applying as a grad student - having had the chance to take grad courses and work on independent projects - than I would have been as an uninformed undergrad. My motivation is stronger, my goals are clearer, my experience is more compelling. I'm sure yours will be the same, and it most definitely does make a difference.

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You're not in my field, so I won't attempt to answer Q.1.

For Q.2, however...yes. Again, this is a different field, but I know of at least 3 or 4 applicants who got in nowhere the first time they applied, completed an MA program, and did very well the second round. ("very well" = top 3 programs in their field). In one case, the candidate in question had been rejected across the board twice, including from programs that were barely ranked in the top 100...only to be accepted to the top program in the country for his field on his third try, when he had an MA in hand. I should caution you, however, that it wasn't so much the MA itself that made a difference...as that he was able to use what he learned during his MA to make himself a much stronger candidate.

Hence, the real question, I think...is your application stronger? Do you have a more sophisticated, better researched writing sample? Does your SoP show a clearer sense of purpose and direction (and not to mention fit!)? From my experience (applying with both a BA and an MA), the bar is considerably higher for MA applicants. You're expected to not only show potential, but also to begin to fulfill it. But then again, with a year and a half of graduate school under your belt by the time you apply, I think you'll be well on your way to meeting that higher bar.

Good luck!

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Well, obviously it will hurt your chances of establishing contact with that specific professor. But lots of people get into programs without getting to know their potential supervisor all that well. If your supervisor has to be away for one year of your PhD, the first year is probably best, since you have the least direct contact.

Thanks! it makes me feel a bit better. Just to be more clear, the professor is away this year, so she will be back for my first year in Ph.D. I was wondering, to rephrase my question, if her being away during the application & selection process would be a minus for me..

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Because my undergraduate record was poor, there was simply no chance that I would have been accepted to a decent Ph.D. program.

Now that I have an MA, I presented my original research at a handful of conferences, worked closesly with professors, and may have my researched published in a top journal in my field. All these things would have been unthinkable fresh out of undergrad.

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I was wondering, to rephrase my question, if her being away during the application & selection process would be a minus for me..

Well, you know she won't be on the adcom, so you could think of that as a minus. But if you've made contact and she likes you, she could still push to have you admitted. I know for me the biggest problem with faculty that were on leave when I applied was that it was impossible to meet with them and sometimes even difficult to get them on the phone. It didn't hurt my chances of being admitted, though, I think. The departments I applied to made decisions for the entire department as a whole, and as long as someone from my subfield read my app and thought it was strong, I was ok regardless of whether I mentioned them specifically as a POI.

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