Dwy wrote:I guess it depends.
I've contacted 5 professors so far and received 2 neutral, 1 good and 2 great answers.
The neutral ones were like "I think your background is a great match for our research but I'm not on the committee so..."
The good one was like "Dude, having you would be awesome and I hope you pass but I can't do *** for you right now"
The great ones were like "I'm not on the committee but I'll got out of my way to tell them I'm interested in having you as a student"
I guess nothing bad came out of it, but 40% of the interactions are probably going to increase my chances.
So in the end, if you know a professor's research, is interested in working with them, then contacting can be really helpful towards your application. But unless the professor says so, you'll never know if they will try to help you get in by showing interest to the committee.
TakeruK wrote:I think that while contacting profs in the US is not as much of an important part of the application process as in Canada, it is still very useful to do so. It helped me figure out which schools would be good fits and thus worth my time/energy/money applying in the first place. It also helped me get a sense of what some of the profs are interested in so that also helped me make my SOP better show my fit within the department.
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