If a professor tells you that you probably have a good shot

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InquilineKea
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If a professor tells you that you probably have a good shot

Postby InquilineKea » Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:23 pm

If a professor tells you that you probably have a good shot at getting into some top 10 school (and knows your general profile), then should you trust what he says?

What fraction of students do they tell this to? And if they say it, how often are they actually correct?

ticklecricket
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Re: If a professor tells you that you probably have a good shot

Postby ticklecricket » Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:46 pm

Depends on how many students your professor has seen go on to top ten schools. If you are in a large program which sees multiple students go on to top ten schools, then their judgement is probably sound. If you are in a smaller department, they might not have a realistic understanding of how competitive spots are at these schools.

Either way, you might as well apply to the schools you would like to go to. Sure, you have to pay the application fee, but think of it as a game of chance. You bet $80 and even if the odds are 100 to 1 isn't it worth it for a dream school?

ramathorn
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Re: If a professor tells you that you probably have a good shot

Postby ramathorn » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:26 pm

All three of my recs told me I'd get in everywhere, or almost everywhere, that I applied. Two of them studied at a top 10 school under the same advisor, who I am now applying to study under, and seemed very confident I'd get in, and I am certainly not the first person they have written recs for.

I'm sitting at 1 acceptance, 3 rejections and 6 unknowns; granted the 1 acceptance is at a top 10/near top 10 but this is not "all".

Dreaded Anomaly
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Re: If a professor tells you that you probably have a good shot

Postby Dreaded Anomaly » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:22 am

I think it's difficult for a professor who knows you personally to judge how you will be viewed by an admissions committee that doesn't know you personally. That professor may be prominent in the field, with lots of experience sending students to grad school, but there's still a difference between the professor's impression of you and the impression the adcom will get from letters+grades+GRE+SOP, even if the professor conveys that impression as best as possible in a recommendation.

Basically, no one is guaranteed to get into a top 10, and this has only become more true with online applications making it easier to flood the field. Even a good shot isn't as good as you'd like it to be.

Kites
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Re: If a professor tells you that you probably have a good shot

Postby Kites » Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:16 am

It's a PC lie. I was told the same words by many profs. This is my second year applying. The first year I got in no where. Trust yourself. Not them.

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sphy
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Re: If a professor tells you that you probably have a good shot

Postby sphy » Tue Mar 01, 2011 4:51 am

InquilineKea wrote:If a professor tells you that you probably have a good shot at getting into some top 10 school (and knows your general profile), then should you trust what he says?

What fraction of students do they tell this to? And if they say it, how often are they actually correct?

Well say this to all very competitive students and it's there trick. By that way they are trying to seduce you to send your application to that school. And when after selling themselves in this indirect way they create admission committee and choose the very very best among the best by Mar 1st of every year. :wink:

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HappyQuark
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Re: If a professor tells you that you probably have a good shot

Postby HappyQuark » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:19 pm

InquilineKea wrote:If a professor tells you that you probably have a good shot at getting into some top 10 school (and knows your general profile), then should you trust what he says?

What fraction of students do they tell this to? And if they say it, how often are they actually correct?


It's very much a two way street. On the one hand, professors that you know well are generally inclined to sugarcoat things so their recommendations tend to be a bit too optimistic. On the other hand, when most students approach a professor to ask them how they will do in admissions, it's not uncommon for them to ask it by describing all of the good aspects of their profile and leaving out the bad, giving the professor less reason to doubt his/her own predictions.

axiomofchoice
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Re: If a professor tells you that you probably have a good shot

Postby axiomofchoice » Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:28 pm

I would trust your professor as far as to apply for some top-10 school (and you should in any case, unless you are desperately poor or your profile is absolutely shitty - like 2.5 GPA and 300 PGRE; dreaming is relatively cheap :) ).

What do you mean to "trust" what your professor said? You should not do anything differently even if your professor thinks glowingly of you - you still need to apply for safety schools, still have to work hard, still have to write a good SOP, etc. It's dangerous to take your professor's word as voucher and thus becoming smug, and in that sense it's safer for you to assume that your professor is wrong.

In my case, I'm glad that the professor who had been telling me all throughout undergrad that I would have no trouble getting into many top 10 schools changed his tone at the meeting when we seriously discussed the admission process. He warns of the unpredictability of the admission process etc. instead of assuring me of my chance. And that's before I kind of bombed the PGRE according to his standard. That, I think, is the right attitude to have, since unless you got a Nobel prize hanging in your living room, your chance of admission at top school is never 100%.




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