Professors whom I have contacted

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skk
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:57 am

Professors whom I have contacted

Postby skk » Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:04 am

Hello,

I have seen on many applications that asks whether I have contacted professors regarding application process and all. Does this list narrow down the admissions chance because only these professors would decide whether to accept me or not. Or, does it show in general my interest in the school and particular research?

Thanks

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grae313
Posts: 2297
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm

Re: Professors whom I have contacted

Postby grae313 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:31 pm

I don't think anyone is equipped to answer this question except admissionsprof.

If I were to make a wild guess, perhaps if an application is borderline they will discuss your application with the professor you contacted to see if they were interested in you. Certainly it also shows a more directed interest but I can't see decisions being based off that. Most schools have a committee each year for making admissions decisions and I doubt they gather different groups of people together for each application based on who they contacted, so I don't think that's it either.

pqortic
Posts: 398
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:24 am

Re: Professors whom I have contacted

Postby pqortic » Wed Nov 24, 2010 2:14 pm

skk wrote:Hello,

I have seen on many applications that asks whether I have contacted professors regarding application process and all. Does this list narrow down the admissions chance because only these professors would decide whether to accept me or not. Or, does it show in general my interest in the school and particular research?

Thanks

I don't think this is something that determines who makes decision on your application. it should be for the purpose of knowing your research interests so they can balance the number of students in each field in the coming years. you will normally be doing TA jobs in the first year and don't need to find an advisor beforehand. many applicants don't contact professors and many professors don't reply students emails.

appliedphysics
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2010 6:00 pm

Re: Professors whom I have contacted

Postby appliedphysics » Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:28 pm

I think Physics department's admission process is different from Applied Physics, Applied Math, and Engineering. For most of the excellent Physics programs like Harvard, Princeton, Stanford. Hearing from faculties and students, I think the admission is completely based on a competitive basis. Faculties' recommendations are not strongly considered. I think it is all up to the admission committee. I think in most schools, at least, Harvard Stanford and Caltech, Applied Physics and Applied Math program are like half based on faculties recommendation and half based on admission committee. And Engineering is mostly faculties recommendation.

pymtab
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:19 am

Re: Professors whom I have contacted

Postby pymtab » Thu Nov 25, 2010 10:40 am

This is from Stanford Applied Physics:
"Most entering PhD students hold a rotating research assistantship during their first three quarters. After discussion with faculty members both from within the Applied Physics Department as well as from any other science or engineering department at Stanford when the student first arrives, an assistantship for the first quarter is mutually agreed upon. An assistantship with a different faculty member can be arranged similarly at the beginning of each of the two subsequent quarters, if desired. The purpose of the rotating research assistantship plan is to acquaint students with research opportunities and with the faculty during the first year prior to the final selection of a PhD research group. Many students elect to remain with the first or second research rotation group, leading ultimately to a research project and their PhD dissertation. As students' interests develop, they have the option at any time of changing research programs, depending upon mutual agreement between the student and his/her research advisor. Arrangements for summer research positions are made by the student with his/her research advisor."

So I don't think that the Stanford Applied Physics department expects you to decide on your research advisor before admission (and hence contact him) by any stretch of the imagination.

admissionprof
Posts: 364
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 7:50 pm

Re: Professors whom I have contacted

Postby admissionprof » Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:13 pm

grae313 wrote:I don't think anyone is equipped to answer this question except admissionsprof.

If I were to make a wild guess, perhaps if an application is borderline they will discuss your application with the professor you contacted to see if they were interested in you. Certainly it also shows a more directed interest but I can't see decisions being based off that. Most schools have a committee each year for making admissions decisions and I doubt they gather different groups of people together for each application based on who they contacted, so I don't think that's it either.



Grae is correct. I don't see it mattering very much. The one exception would be someone who already has a masters degree who is likely to start research right away. Then, having support from within the department might be helpful. Most profs at our place just forward inquiries directly to me, and I then write encouraging them to apply. It doesn't really help for undergrads, except in unusual circumstances.




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