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How long did it take to hear back from POIs?


phyanth
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I've sent out e-mails to potential supervisors this week. I've heard back from a few already, but not most. How long did it take for POIs to respond to your initial e-mail?

 

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 I had an arbitrary deadline of "If they don't reply within 4 days (and aren't away), they probably just don't care that much". There are always exceptions, but that's my rule. Reason being: 4 days is a pretty long time to push aside an e-mail, especially if you're open to accepting students. They would reply if they felt anything towards you, one way or the other. If they don't reply, they may not think the email is worth the effort, is too vague, they don't feel strongly either way, etc.

 

Edited by timetobegin
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On ‎2017‎年‎10‎月‎28‎日 at 6:17 PM, timetobegin said:

 I had an arbitrary deadline of "If they don't reply within 4 days (and aren't away), they probably just don't care that much". There are always exceptions, but that's my rule. Reason being: 4 days is a pretty long time to push aside an e-mail, especially if you're open to accepting students. They would reply if they felt anything towards you, one way or the other. If they don't reply, they may not think the email is worth the effort, is too vague, they don't feel strongly either way, etc.

 

I think the 4 days rule is very reasonable. Here is my own experience.

I recently wrote to a POI, who is a friend of a professor who has been helping me on everything. He promised to the professor who introduced me to him that he would reply if I wrote to him. I wrote him a very long letter, which was probably unwise, but at that time I thought if he were to decide whether to take me, the more information the better...

Anyway he wrote back 4 days later, said that he would try to reply soon. Now it's another 4 days since he said he would reply, and I haven't heard anything more from him yet. Now I'm a bit anxious... Anyway I will write to other professors and see how it goes.

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Thank you! I feel like 4 business days is reasonable. I've heard back from my top three choices, so yay! But I've only heard back from half of the people. Maybe I'll get some more today..... 

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I wouldn't worry too much about not hearing back from professors - it's a busy time of year, plus some have policies of not speaking with potential students until after they've had a chance to read applications (something I didn't find out until after I applied).  Last year, only about half of the POIs I contacted responded to me, and of those that did only about half were meaningful responses beyond "Interesting project, I encourage you to apply, good luck, etc."  As for timeframe, four business days is certainly reasonable, but I did have some faculty respond to me weeks after my initial email, explaining that they were on leave or in the field.  The important thing here is that you've heard back from your top three choices - way to go!

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@museum_geek, that is good to know! I wasn't sure what the policies were. I actually received some more responses today, so that's encouraging! Also, one of the professors wants to skype with me to talk more about my project, so I figure that has to be a good sign right?! I'm about to pass out over here, haha. I get really nervous talking with people I've never met. Especially in this kind of situation.

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@phyanth that’s great news! I’ve had poi’s respond within a few hours to a week or so due to them being busy/in the field.

for the phone call/Skype interview - treat this as an interview for the program even if it is only with 1 poi. Last year I had a Skype “chat” with 1 poi that turned into a group interview with every archaeologists and bioanth on faculty (to my surprise), other Skype chats were with just my poi. Basically, just be on your game and be yourself regardless of who/how many people may be there. But congrats!-that’s awesome and shows their interest in working with you! 

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@Bschaefer Oh man, that's great to know! I'll definitely treat it like an interview, but didn't even think that there might be more than one person. What sort of stuff did POIs ask you? I'm not sure what to expect. 

On an unrelated sidenote, I think you know a girl I went to school with, you and her were in the same grad program! (not to be creepy or anything, haha)

Edited by phyanth
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4 hours ago, phyanth said:

@Bschaefer Oh man, that's great to know! I'll definitely treat it like an interview, but didn't even think that there might be more than one person. What sort of stuff did POIs ask you? I'm not sure what to expect. 

On an unrelated sidenote, I think you know a girl I went to school with, you and her were in the same grad program! (not to be creepy or anything, haha)

Yeah for sure, they’ll take into account what you say during the chat. But also I’ve talked to a few and asked if I could throw some ideas out there for future doctoral research avenues and it became like a joint idea collab which was cool. For questions, it’s usually like what are you interested in, past research ideas, geographic area you’re interested in, ideas you want to explore. Some non-academic questions I’ve gotten asked were good restaurants to go to in Boston (I’m from there and they were going there for a conference or something) - so it’s kind of all over but nothing like “how does Foucault’s theory work into your research” (unless you explicitly say it or something?

mhm...Lubbock so Texas tech? - @Caymay maybe?

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these thread is so useful I'm pinning it down.

Do you have any advice on how to write the first email to POIs? I have no idea what should I ask and what not..

Edited by DitDot
typo
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What I did is introduce myself and where I am at (e.g. I just graduated with my M.A. from *insert school*). Then I talked about the research I am interested in doing. Make sure to be detailed, but brief. Last, I talked about why I am e-mailing them (your interests in x, y, and z seem to align with the research I am interested in pursuing) and then asked questions (e.g. what type of research and students are you seeking to add to your program).

Edited by phyanth
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I'm 3 for 3 of the people I contacted in the same university. The first responded within two days, the second took almost a week, and the third replied about 20 minutes after I sent the email. I scheduled a phone call with one for tomorrow! 

Generally, I introduced myself by name, said I was graduating with my MA and from where, and added which program I was applying to and where.  I asked if they had time to discuss my research and how it could fit in with the program and that I thought my research could benefit from their expertise. Then I briefly said what I was interested in, how it related to something about their work that I'd read, and then I asked if they'd be at the AAAs in DC this year, and if so, if we could meet to chat about my research. Then I thanked them and said I looked forward to their response. 

Super easy! 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/8/2017 at 1:47 AM, lovekilledinos said:

I'm 3 for 3 of the people I contacted in the same university. The first responded within two days, the second took almost a week, and the third replied about 20 minutes after I sent the email. I scheduled a phone call with one for tomorrow! 

Generally, I introduced myself by name, said I was graduating with my MA and from where, and added which program I was applying to and where.  I asked if they had time to discuss my research and how it could fit in with the program and that I thought my research could benefit from their expertise. Then I briefly said what I was interested in, how it related to something about their work that I'd read, and then I asked if they'd be at the AAAs in DC this year, and if so, if we could meet to chat about my research. Then I thanked them and said I looked forward to their response. 

Super easy! 

So lucky! I"ve been having a terrible time getting responses from supervisors. Mind me asking what school that is? 

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By the way, a quick question. Does anybody feel anxious before, during and after composing an email to a POI(and terrified to send it...) as I do?

I'm from a country where professors consider talking with students a waste for their time. I heard professors in the U.S. are way more friendly, but I have no idea what that feels like.. I wonder whether what I'm feeling now is normal comparing to American students...

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13 hours ago, kittyball said:

By the way, a quick question. Does anybody feel anxious before, during and after composing an email to a POI(and terrified to send it...) as I do?

I'm from a country where professors consider talking with students a waste for their time. I heard professors in the U.S. are way more friendly, but I have no idea what that feels like.. I wonder whether what I'm feeling now is normal comparing to American students...

2

In Canada, it's expected you reach out to supervisors and have one secured before you apply to the program. Nonetheless, when I was writing POIs, I'd hesitate for an hour, have my roommate read the email to check it over, and then, as I pressed the Send button, I'd make a warrior cry similar to "ahhhhhHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!". Then I'd wince, stand up, stretch, and do it all over again.

Whatever works.

Edited by timetobegin
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19 hours ago, lovekilledinos said:

UCI! 

It's a crapshoot, man. Idk. Good luck with this round! 

Oh, gotcha! Thanks for answering. I see your location is Cali and I'm applying to schools there from Canada (but not UCI or any of the UCs). The US application process is so confusing haha apparently it's completely normal to not have a PI before you actually get in the program. A crapshoot indeed. Good luck to you too!! 

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3 minutes ago, bananabear said:

Oh, gotcha! Thanks for answering. I see your location is Cali and I'm applying to schools there from Canada (but not UCI or any of the UCs). The US application process is so confusing haha apparently it's completely normal to not have a PI before you actually get in the program. A crapshoot indeed. Good luck to you too!! 

Ohh cool, which schools are you applying to? And yeah! I had always assumed that you needed a mentor in the department to want to work with you before you entered, but at UCI all the professors I've contacted told me they don't admit based on advisers--but rather through overall "fit" with the department and program. Which is a huge relief! 

(I'm now 4 for 4 at UCI, which is astounding to me.)

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is for future applicants, but I totally disagree with the "deadline" of 4 days.

I've reached out to people from top-notch anthro schools such as Berkeley, Stanford, UT Austin and so on. 

It took 2-3 months for my professors of interests to get back to me. Once they did, their emails contained a lot of text that was very thorough and detailed. They even apologized for taking so long to reply. Our communication afterward was consistent and still very informative and supportive. 

Professors are busy. Professors at big-name universities are especially busy. Just wait it out. If you're that worried, send a follow-up email. You will surely receive a faster response with an excuse or apology for the long wait. Another professor of interest took 4 LONG months to finally commit to an hour longs Skype session with me. Everyone is different, but I would say there is no rule of thumb. If you really care about the university and POI, just wait it out :).  I received no response from two professors at Berkekely, but one is currently the graduate chair, so yeah, haha.

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On ‎2017‎年‎12‎月‎15‎日 at 8:38 PM, waltzforzizi said:

This is for future applicants, but I totally disagree with the "deadline" of 4 days.

I've reached out to people from top-notch anthro schools such as Berkeley, Stanford, UT Austin and so on. 

It took 2-3 months for my professors of interests to get back to me. Once they did, their emails contained a lot of text that was very thorough and detailed. They even apologized for taking so long to reply. Our communication afterward was consistent and still very informative and supportive. 

Professors are busy. Professors at big-name universities are especially busy. Just wait it out. If you're that worried, send a follow-up email. You will surely receive a faster response with an excuse or apology for the long wait. Another professor of interest took 4 LONG months to finally commit to an hour longs Skype session with me. Everyone is different, but I would say there is no rule of thumb. If you really care about the university and POI, just wait it out :).  I received no response from two professors at Berkekely, but one is currently the graduate chair, so yeah, haha.

Wow your experience is really interesting! I'm surprised that professors would reply after so long. I mean wouldn't your email be buried in a huge pile of unanswered emails? It sounds like a tough job to dig it out. I agree, there is no harm to keep waiting. But I have to ask, did you send a follow-up email to all those who answered you after months? I mean, it's fascinating that they didn't forget about you! Anyway, I think many would remember this amazing story you told, like I do.

So far I've written to a few professors, but mostly(except for the first one) with very simple questions, asking them about whether our interests fit, or whether they still take new students. Except for the first professor, which took 4 days to say "I will respond" and then another 10 days to respond to my follow-up email, which taught me a lesson on "don't write long emails, they are difficult to reply", other professors all respond very quickly: two Yale professor responded within 2 hours, a Harvard professor replied after a day.

I think in general we should not give up hope until told otherwise. The 4 days rule is just a way of scheduling/managing our anxiety, and try to move on with other things in our life.

 

 

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On 12/23/2017 at 6:21 PM, kittyball said:

Wow your experience is really interesting! I'm surprised that professors would reply after so long. I mean wouldn't your email be buried in a huge pile of unanswered emails? It sounds like a tough job to dig it out. I agree, there is no harm to keep waiting. But I have to ask, did you send a follow-up email to all those who answered you after months? I mean, it's fascinating that they didn't forget about you! Anyway, I think many would remember this amazing story you told, like I do.

So far I've written to a few professors, but mostly(except for the first one) with very simple questions, asking them about whether our interests fit, or whether they still take new students. Except for the first professor, which took 4 days to say "I will respond" and then another 10 days to respond to my follow-up email, which taught me a lesson on "don't write long emails, they are difficult to reply", other professors all respond very quickly: two Yale professor responded within 2 hours, a Harvard professor replied after a day.

I think in general we should not give up hope until told otherwise. The 4 days rule is just a way of scheduling/managing our anxiety, and try to move on with other things in our life.

 

 

2

@kittyball Haha, they usually state at the beginning of the email something along the lines of: " I'm sorry, but this email seemed to have dropped through the cracks." "I apologize for taking so long as I have been experiencing personal issues that left me unable to reply." and so on. My emails are very detailed and concise, but LONG. My proposed research and background in CRM probably "alerts them" as I mesh well with their research and I have experience in the field. I don't have a stellar GPA, GRE scores or any independent research. However, my POI and the program itself seems like a great fit for me. I think that's the main reason, idk though, haha. I'm really shocked everytime a big-wig responds and the email just blows me away and they continue to ask any mundane question I have. 

In my follow up email(s) I just to make up some excuse or greeting that doesn't come off as TOO desperate or impatient. If they had initially emailed me after a month, but have failed to reply again after 3 or so weeks, I send them an email asking if everything is alright, have a nice break, and blah blah. I usually wait for 1-2 months—for the initial reply—because it's fine with me. I emailed most of my POI earlier in the year. I have found out that professors legit forget about you, haha. They don't have a sticky note with my name on their computer. I have to remind them that I exist. 

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