Naming Advisors you like to work with.

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poel5279
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:36 am

Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby poel5279 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:23 am

Hi guys.. I have a question.
I have heard that it is good to write some names of people you are interested in working with in SOP.
Of course, lot of the people that I want to work with have extremely big names. Do you think writing such a huge name on SOP will actually help?

I feel like it is setting up the application to failure..
Honestly, I am having a huge trouble with figuring out the research work different professors are doing and catering your application to each university (of course, getting general topic of their interest is not too difficult).

But say, I apply to Harvard for Strominger, Vafa
or Princeton for Witten or Maldacena..

These names are so big that it's quite intimidating for me to put it on my SOP...
what do you guys think..? Thank you always.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby bfollinprm » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:57 pm

poel5279 wrote:Hi guys.. I have a question.
I have heard that it is good to write some names of people you are interested in working with in SOP.
Of course, lot of the people that I want to work with have extremely big names. Do you think writing such a huge name on SOP will actually help?

I feel like it is setting up the application to failure..
Honestly, I am having a huge trouble with figuring out the research work different professors are doing and catering your application to each university (of course, getting general topic of their interest is not too difficult).

But say, I apply to Harvard for Strominger, Vafa
or Princeton for Witten or Maldacena..

These names are so big that it's quite intimidating for me to put it on my SOP...
what do you guys think..? Thank you always.


I wouldn't name those people exclusively. I'd say something like "Harvard is a great fit for me because of its world class commitment to probing fundamental theoretical questions in physics."

If you mention people by name, you should also name the younger theorists at those places. Also, at Princeton, don't name IAS faculty, ever. They're not Princeton faculty.

poel5279
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:36 am

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby poel5279 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:02 pm

I see. Is naming helpful at all?

This is what seems so hard in every applications: not being too narrow and not being too broad..

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby bfollinprm » Fri Dec 06, 2013 6:22 pm

Only insofar as it (a) demonstrates your knowledge of the department (which can be done with more general statements about the strength of the faculty in certain disciplines), or (b) refers the admissions committee to a faculty member that you know will go to bat for you, which definitely isn't the case for the bigwigs at Princeton et al.

hermitw
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:11 am

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby hermitw » Sat Dec 07, 2013 12:16 am

bfollinprm wrote:Only insofar as it (a) demonstrates your knowledge of the department (which can be done with more general statements about the strength of the faculty in certain disciplines), or (b) refers the admissions committee to a faculty member that you know will go to bat for you, which definitely isn't the case for the bigwigs at Princeton et al.


I think it may help a little if the one you name is in the committee.

ol
Posts: 57
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:07 pm

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby ol » Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:18 pm

If I had to do it all over again, I would not have named anyone specific in my applications. Unfortunately, one of the professors at the school I decided to attend got the idea that because I mentioned him (along with a few other people), I was to be in his group to the point of coming across as possessive almost. He was not pleased when I decided to join another group after getting there. My advice: talk about your interests and make sure there are a few faculty who work in those areas, but don't mention them specifically in the essay. This way it will be apparent that your interests match what's available, but you won't have 'committed' yourself to a group unintentionally.

blighter
Posts: 256
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:30 pm

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby blighter » Mon Dec 09, 2013 4:27 pm

ol wrote:My advice: talk about your interests and make sure there are a few faculty who work in those areas, but don't mention them specifically in the essay. This way it will be apparent that your interests match what's available, but you won't have 'committed' yourself to a group unintentionally.


What if they're the only person working on the thing you mentioned in the essay? In that case it's not any different from naming them explicitly.

poel5279
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:36 am

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby poel5279 » Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:00 pm

this is all very interesting.
All of the posting that I've read before I posted this suggested naming advisors is good idea.
Here, everyone seems to have an opinion that it is not helpful necessarily (or even detrimental).

It would be nice to hear more opinions.

Dwy
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:45 am

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby Dwy » Tue Dec 10, 2013 9:00 pm

poel5279 wrote:this is all very interesting.
All of the posting that I've read before I posted this suggested naming advisors is good idea.
Here, everyone seems to have an opinion that it is not helpful necessarily (or even detrimental).

It would be nice to hear more opinions.

I can't say if it's good or not because i'm not in yet, but I can argue why I did in a certain case.
I'm applying to a place where 3 of their faculty are working on topics that I have worked previously and want to work in the future. Their approach, however, are different among them and require different skill sets.
So what did I do? I showed in my letter that I have the skill set required to work with any of them, and the research interest compatibility is obvious by my background.
So I chose to name them, because I think that increases my chances. I did focus on one though, because I've exchanged emails with this Professor previous to the application.

Anyway, just my 2 cents. Maybe someone can say what they think of my reasoning.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:26 am

poel5279 wrote:this is all very interesting.
All of the posting that I've read before I posted this suggested naming advisors is good idea.
Here, everyone seems to have an opinion that it is not helpful necessarily (or even detrimental).

It would be nice to hear more opinions.


To be clear, I don't think that naming potential advisors is a bad idea, I did it when I applied. I just think that the benefits are better felt when you have a strong background in a subject, and can speak directly to why a particular group is a good fit for your skills and goals. That's not the case for you and fundamental theory; if it was, mentioning Maldacena wouldn't scare you, and you wouldn't have trouble identifying the current research programs of these theorists. It's not a critical part of an application (though stating your goals and identifying why the school is a fit certainly is) and if you can't do it well (be specifying the specific interests of a research group and pointing to how it matches your strengths and interests), I wouldn't do it.

Also, and I know you probably know this, but Witten and Maldacena does not exhaust the list of theorists a place like Princeton has. If the list is more than 3 people long, it's more confusion than help, and you don't want to just list a few arbitrarily. Better to just state that there are a plethora of options that fit your interests in such situations, and use the space saved in your SoP to better define what those interests are.

Also also, and this is very specific, but Witten and Maldacena aren't at Princeton. They're at IAS, and technically not faculty there.

poel5279
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:36 am

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby poel5279 » Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:19 am

Thank you sincerely always 'bfollin' for helping me out so much!
You know, I would definitely appreciate you reading my statement if you have a chance. Maybe I can send it to you privately? You are at UC Davis right?

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:52 am

sure deal.

poel5279
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:36 am

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby poel5279 » Wed Dec 11, 2013 4:42 am

Could I get your email address?

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Naming Advisors you like to work with.

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:15 pm

Drop me a PM.




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