Will Professors ever tell you to NOT apply?

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Will Professors ever tell you to NOT apply?

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:41 am

Hi Everyone,
I really wanted to gauge if a school is a good fit for me, so I decided that I would email profs and sort of ask them if they recommend I should apply or not because My gpa/pgre are mediocre. I've seen a bunch of threads on here about "Suck Mails" : viewtopic.php?f=27&t=1700 and one of the posters did exactly what I mentioned above.

For the first prof at University X I basically said I am interested in applying here for theory, this is my research experience, but these are my stats ( pgre score etc), do you recommend that I apply here? Prof replied back and basically said that I should definitely apply.

Second prof was easier to email ( LOR writer), but I sort of regret emailing. I did research with this prof at University Y***, which is well known and competitive. I have had email conversations with this prof since forever, and this prof obviously knows me very well (seriously really well). I asked if this prof recommends that I reapply there, I mentioned that I enjoyed working with them, and really enjoyed my overall experience at the university. However, now I feel i put my writer in an awkward situation and I wish I could take it back. What should I do in this case? The prof was very happy with my research work, but still my stats are just not competitive enough :/

When I email professors in the future, should I email at least two at the same institution? Also, I am very realistic. Positive replies does not guarantee admission. However, at least someone thinks you are capable haha =)


*** I have applied to this University before and was rejected the first time. This is my second time applying to grad school. No point in applying again I guess?


I didn't want to make a new thread, but I really have one more question. I have noticed some people have applied for a broad range of subfields. I did not the first time ( i only applied for hep-th), but I am considering applying for CME/HEP-ex now too. Both of my LOR writers, whom I did research with, are particle theorist. I brought this up with them, but they haven't given me any opinion. However, they did address the initial list of schools I had because one of them was not strong in particle theory at all. IDK why, but I feel like I might have upset them? I am still interested in particle theory, but I also want to get into grad school. However, did I make my profs think like I am not interested anymore or something like that?

TakeruK
Posts: 816
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Will Professors ever tell you to NOT apply?

Postby TakeruK » Wed Nov 12, 2014 12:23 pm

I don't think emailing the profs at a university will help you know if they think you are a good fit for them. Instead, you should be asking this of the professors that know you much better (i.e. your LOR writers or professors you know well from your own department).

I don't think you put Prof at University Y in a terribly awkward situation. There are plenty of ways they can get around the answer (saying that they don't think your application changed much since last time, or just writing you a letter anyways, etc.)

Finally, it does not sound like you have upset any professors. It makes a lot of sense for professors to tell you not to apply to a certain school because they know it's not a good fit for you (see the first paragraph). This is exactly the type of feedback you want to hear when you show a prof your list of schools.

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Will Professors ever tell you to NOT apply?

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Wed Nov 12, 2014 3:26 pm

Thank you for the response TakeruK!

TakeruK wrote:I don't think emailing the profs at a university will help you know if they think you are a good fit for them. Instead, you should be asking this of the professors that know you much better (i.e. your LOR writers or professors you know well from your own department).


That's very true, but I left out an important detail. The prof I first emailed at University X is someone who knows me too (but not as well as LOR writers), so I was confident I was going to get a response and some sort of feedback. I guess the way I imagined it would play out was "I'm sorry ___ but I don't think you should apply ..." I am pleased with the actual response.

TakeruK wrote:Finally, it does not sound like you have upset any professors. It makes a lot of sense for professors to tell you not to apply to a certain school because they know it's not a good fit for you (see the first paragraph). This is exactly the type of feedback you want to hear when you show a prof your list of schools.


Haha you are probably right. I think I am over thinking this sometimes. Also from the schools my LOR writers suggest, I am beginning to think that I am underestimating myself *a lot*. I really have to stop doing that. Since I have already been rejected from schools from last year, I am being overly cautious and guarded.

You are right though, there is no point in emailing random professors to determine fit.

TakeruK
Posts: 816
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Will Professors ever tell you to NOT apply?

Postby TakeruK » Wed Nov 12, 2014 6:48 pm

It's a tricky situation when you email a professor and ask them if they think you should apply to their school (even if the prof knows you). Very few professors will say "no" to that because they don't want to be the one that said no! Instead, since you know the professor at University X well, you should share your entire list with this professor (if your relationship is good enough that they would take the 30-60 minutes to talk to you about your grad school plans) and get their feedback on the other schools and professors on your list. It's hard to get unbiased and honest opinions from a professor about his/her own school. If you want to know about your chances at University X, ask the profs you know at the other schools!

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Will Professors ever tell you to NOT apply?

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:53 pm

TakeruK wrote:Very few professors will say "no" to that because they don't want to be the one that said no!


You just answered my main headline question! haha I kind of thought that too, but I guess I was hoping Prof at University X would be honest with me. Prof probably was? (who knows) LOR writer from University Y suggested I apply to X, that's why I decided to also email the prof at X.

TakeruK wrote:It's hard to get unbiased and honest opinions from a professor about his/her own school.

Wouldn't professors want to be honest with students though? Maybe emailing complete strangers would be more helpful... Wouldn't they be more cut throat because they don't know me? This is why I think I put my LOR writer in awkward situation :/.




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