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contacting professors / department chairs


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I was just wondering how you all approach making contact with professors or department chairs as far as just getting your name out there. I went to an information session at one of the top programs I'm considering today and one of the professors / department chair spoke and gave us advice about applying and gave us information about the program. She also informed us she's one of the main people that goes over applications, so I figure implanting my name in her head wouldn't hurt. I asked her a few questions today so I figure that's enough to mention in an email, and maybe expand upon a question I asked her. I also feel a bit strange doing this, and I don't want this to hurt me, as if I'm trying to "weasel my way in" so to speak. There isn't anything specifically I need to know from her that I can't find out elsewhere (I think?), I simply want to convey how much I'd like to be a part of this program and that I'm a good fit for the school. 

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Honestly, I think what you did at the info session was probably better than sending an email, which I'm sure blend together. When I was visiting colleges years and years ago, I almost always got better reactions when I spoke to people in person, and even a few follow-up emails, which wasn't really the case with any other method of communication I tried. I've emailed a couple of graduate departments (whoever is listed as the contact for graduate admissions) and asked questions, but almost immediately after, I start going, "Oh God I bet I sounded like an idiot, why did I do that, they're never going to let me in, why didn't I end that email differently, oh God" so I'm not sure it's helpful for your mental health, either.

Overall, I think the best way to stand out is to have good stats and a strong SOP (I know, I know, cliche). It's kind of like applying for jobs, I think, where you can overshoot if you try to make too much of an impression. It's a professional program, after all, kind of like business school? Unless you're planning on doing research or something with a specific professor - in which case, email away!

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