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How can I say I'm not interested?


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I received an email from a professor in a university that I interviewed and hoped to attend.

 

She said that they are only taking 2 internationals from 100 applicants and that I'm among the top 10 and it would be really good if I was interested in her research so that she could strongly advocate on my behalf. The thing is that I'm REALLY not interested in her research, not at all (it was something I worked in the past, that's why she wants me, but I would really hate it if I had to work on it again).

 

I wanted to go to this school because the program is really good, and they have a lot of faculty that I could work with, but it is definitely not worth attending it if it meant I would be working in something I dislike.

 

Although it is one of my top choices, I would be ok with not being accepted since I've already been accepted into another really good program.

 

So how can I tell her I'm not interested in her research, without sounding rude, after all she was willing to fight for me?

 

Any advice??

 

Thank you!

 
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Hi never been in such a situation but I think you should say you are thankful for her interest/support (not sure best wording) and really like X program and would want to attend, but you are truly interested pursuing Y research in the program. Could also add more politeness by saying while you respect the research she does and see the impact etc, you are interested more in Y research.

Edited by abluefox
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Be honest about your research interests. Saying you'd love to join her lab might get you in the program, but then, if no one else wants to fund you, you'll have to stay and work in her lab. If you know there's no way you'd do that, don't lie to her to get into the program.

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I would assume there is the possibility of multiple rotations, so even if you go there, you are not obligated to join her lab. i'm sure that once you are there you have the freedom to join different labs and that you're not automatically funneled into her work? 

although it is nice to have her advocating for your application, don't feel like you're tied down to anyone's lab as an incoming student

 

This programs does have 3 rotations, but I'm pretty sure I'll only be accepted if I say I would like to join her lab (she did mention having a great deal of influence in the process).

 

However, I can't really say that I'm interested in her research. It would feel really dishonest.

 

I'll follow the advice given here and reiterate my interest in the program but in another area of research, and just see how it goes. 

 

Thanks!

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I definitely agree with you inclination to be honest and not abuse her offer to support you as an applicant. Even though you're not technically obligated to join her lab if accepted, do consider that you're dealing with real people who won't think too highly of you if you're admitted under the premise of intending to work with her and then promptly turn around and go to an unrelated lab. It would be a pretty bad plan to start your time in that department by burning that bridge and potentially making yourself look like you would mislead others for personal gain, especially considering that you have an offer you would be happy to take from another great program. 

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For some schools, international students are accepted by direct admission which means one professor will support you starting from year 1 and you can only work in that lab (US students can be supported by NIH training grant during year 1 so that they can do several rotations). Therefore, you should contact her to make sure whether the admission will be a direct admission (she will support you since year 1 and you can only work in her lab) or general admission (free to choose other labs).

 

Do not hesitate or feel shy to ask her questions. Sometimes clarifying everything is better than conjecture.

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I received an email from a professor in a university that I interviewed and hoped to attend.

 

She said that they are only taking 2 internationals from 100 applicants and that I'm among the top 10 and it would be really good if I was interested in her research so that she could strongly advocate on my behalf. The thing is that I'm REALLY not interested in her research, not at all (it was something I worked in the past, that's why she wants me, but I would really hate it if I had to work on it again).

 

I wanted to go to this school because the program is really good, and they have a lot of faculty that I could work with, but it is definitely not worth attending it if it meant I would be working in something I dislike.

 

Although it is one of my top choices, I would be ok with not being accepted since I've already been accepted into another really good program.

 

So how can I tell her I'm not interested in her research, without sounding rude, after all she was willing to fight for me?

 

Any advice??

 

Thank you!

Here's what I would say.

 

Dear Dr. [Last name of the professor],

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to email me. I had a great time during my interview weekend, and I am excited about the possibility to join the [name of the program] program. I am really flattered by your interest in having me as a student, however, while I think your current research is interesting and in line with my previous research experience, I was hoping to try something new during grad school and work on [new research question]. I would of course consider rotating in your lab, but I do not feel comfortable making any further commitment. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

 

Have a nice rest of your day!

 

Regards,

 

[Your name]

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Oh God, can you believe it that I got an acceptance after all??

I'm so shocked!!

Sorry, I just had to share this, I'm smiling like an idiot here.

 

Fabulous! I saw your thread earlier and noted that you already had some great advice, so I didn't comment... I thought you made the tough but correct decision to be honest. You were obviously very well qualified, and I am glad the school/professor appreciated your integrity in addition to the standard qualifications!

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I would assume there is the possibility of multiple rotations, so even if you go there, you are not obligated to join her lab. i'm sure that once you are there you have the freedom to join different labs and that you're not automatically funneled into her work? 

although it is nice to have her advocating for your application, don't feel like you're tied down to anyone's lab as an incoming student

To use this prof's/PIs weight in the program to pull the OP through the application process when the OP knows that s/he is not interested in her research is dishonest. 

 

Now, it would be a different story if the OP told this PI that s/he is not interested in her research and the PI still brought him/her in regardless. 

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