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dollybird

Faculty "Name Dropping" in SOP

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I've read in general forums that it's a good idea to name drop faculty member names in your SOP/Personal Statement, ESPECIALLY ones you know personally or have reached out to. I've read advice elsewhere to reach out to faculty members ahead of time.

I'm confused about what I would actually say. Like, what would I say in the email to a faculty member? "What opportunities exist to work with you?" "Hi, my name is XXX and I admire you"???

I'm not one to be uncomfortable reaching out to people, but I don't want to give a bullshit reason when it's really to be able to name drop in my application. Maybe I am being short-sighted? 

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

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Are you asking what you should say in an email to a professor, for the purpose of being able to "drop" his/her name in your application? You should probably only email professors if you have actual questions or something worthwhile to say. Superficial interactions are unlikely to benefit your application.

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11 hours ago, dollybird said:

I've read in general forums that it's a good idea to name drop faculty member names in your SOP/Personal Statement, ESPECIALLY ones you know personally or have reached out to. I've read advice elsewhere to reach out to faculty members ahead of time.

I'm confused about what I would actually say. Like, what would I say in the email to a faculty member? "What opportunities exist to work with you?" "Hi, my name is XXX and I admire you"???

I'm not one to be uncomfortable reaching out to people, but I don't want to give a bullshit reason when it's really to be able to name drop in my application. Maybe I am being short-sighted? 

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Your post contains what is really two different questions, so I am addressing those separately. 

First, you can mention professors in your SOP to show that you have done your research into their program. If you are interested in housing policy, for example, and you are attracted to Michigan Ford (for example) because of their faculty expertise in that area, you can definitely mention you're looking forward to working with that faculty member. This is not a must. It's just one way of showing that you have done your research on what the school offers, which adcoms will see positively. You don't need to have emailed the professors already at all. It doesn't make sense for you to namedrop people you personally know unless it speaks to your interest in attending the school. 

Secondly, you can email professors if you have questions for them. For example, you can reach out to professors that you admire or are interested in working with, and ask them questions about their work or if you could work for them as a research assistant if you attended. I found this more useful to do after I was accepted at schools, when I wanted to hear from faculty while making a decision on where to attend. 

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On 11/6/2016 at 3:28 PM, dollybird said:

I've read in general forums that it's a good idea to name drop faculty member names in your SOP/Personal Statement, ESPECIALLY ones you know personally or have reached out to. I've read advice elsewhere to reach out to faculty members ahead of time.

I'm confused about what I would actually say. Like, what would I say in the email to a faculty member? "What opportunities exist to work with you?" "Hi, my name is XXX and I admire you"???

I'm not one to be uncomfortable reaching out to people, but I don't want to give a bullshit reason when it's really to be able to name drop in my application. Maybe I am being short-sighted? 

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Wait, what are you asking?

Do not name drop if you have no relationship with them.  You do need letters of recommendation so I would reach out to a prof with whom you had a good classroom relationship. If you want to work with a prof, you can write an email about how you are interested in research and enjoyed their class, ask if there are opportunities to gain experience working with them.  But do not name drop someone who would not write you a recommendation.

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Even if you don't want any part of the "feel them out" kind of email, the desire to know if they are taking students seems credible. If you are a DrSeussist and want to go to Happytown U (who has 3 DrSeussists) it would be helpful to know if one is retiring, one will be on leave, and the other one is not taking students...

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In my SOPs, I mentioned specific professors with research interests that aligned with mine. I also indicated which classes could best help me realize my professional goals. You don't need to have an existing relationship with the professor in order to tell the admission's committee that you're interested in a course, research group, etc.

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