Contacting faculty

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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babii
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:13 am

Contacting faculty

Post by babii » Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:43 am

Hello guys

Does anyone here ever just email professors and ask them about your chances? Is it ok to do that? Should we do that at all?

p/s: this forum has had a lot of drama lately :( Can't we just be nice to each other?

UniformlyDivergent
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2020 2:32 pm

Re: Contacting faculty

Post by UniformlyDivergent » Wed Jan 20, 2021 6:31 pm

I e-mailed at least one professor for every department I applied for. This was advice given to me by multiple professors, and I 100% recommend it. However, make sure you do your research on each person first. Look at the department website. What areas are they studying? Are they similar to your area(s) of interest? In my case, I was devoted to Geometry and Topology (especially the latter), so I narrowed my search down to people in those areas. Many of them have personal websites. Go read their papers. I usually found at least one paper I could understand 40-50% of, and that helped me decide how interested I was in this persons research. Following that, I wrote an e-mail to each person, expressing interest in their research, and asked if they were seeking (or willing to take on) additonal PhD students to work on a project related to that. I then followed with some personal background (very short) about my academic history, keeping to the points that might indicate if I was a good candidate or not. Wrap a bow around it by saying you'd love to discuss it further, or better yet, ask a specific question about their work. If you do all that, you'll probably get good responses.

I expected to get ignored by almost everyone, but the opposite was true. I actually got responses back from nearly every professor I e-mailed. Most of them were short "Thank you for your interest. I'll make sure you're application get's a thorough review", but many were more personal. Even if not, it makes a difference.

Let me know if I can help you out at all.

-UD

babii
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:13 am

Re: Contacting faculty

Post by babii » Wed Jan 20, 2021 8:26 pm

Thanks for such a detailed response!

I actually did the same. I also emailed people that I like and got a lot of responses (all of them actually), though most of them were like thanks for your interest blah blah. What I was wondering is, given the fact that January is almost over and professors probably have read all the applications, should we email them and ask about our chances?

nicole3
Posts: 35
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2021 10:28 am

Re: Contacting faculty

Post by nicole3 » Wed Jan 20, 2021 8:58 pm

babii wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 8:26 pm
Thanks for such a detailed response!

I actually did the same. I also emailed people that I like and got a lot of responses (all of them actually), though most of them were like thanks for your interest blah blah. What I was wondering is, given the fact that January is almost over and professors probably have read all the applications, should we email them and ask about our chances?
No. That’s tacky and seems pushy.

UniformlyDivergent
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2020 2:32 pm

Re: Contacting faculty

Post by UniformlyDivergent » Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:00 pm

Not quite as opinionated about e-mail after the applications, but I'm leaning towards "no", only because I wouldn't want to come off as "needy" or anything. We're in the same boat, so you know I know the feeling of waiting, but I think it's the right call here. I'm still waiting for responses from most of my applications. If I don't here back from anything by end of Februrary, I'll probably shoot out some quick e-mails.

temporaryacct
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:23 am

Re: Contacting faculty

Post by temporaryacct » Thu Jan 21, 2021 1:23 pm

I wouldn't ask. Most professors will have no clue about your chances because the applications are usually handled by a small committee. You could try the Director of Grad Studies. They usually handle admissions.

crystal_math
Posts: 68
Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2021 1:03 am

Re: Contacting faculty

Post by crystal_math » Thu Jan 21, 2021 2:42 pm

temporaryacct wrote:
Thu Jan 21, 2021 1:23 pm
I wouldn't ask. Most professors will have no clue about your chances because the applications are usually handled by a small committee. You could try the Director of Grad Studies. They usually handle admissions.
How do you ask this to the director without sounding like an annoying person?

blue_math
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2020 12:28 am

Re: Contacting faculty

Post by blue_math » Thu Jan 21, 2021 2:58 pm

I would say don't ask yet -- at this point it's out of our hands, and it's up to them to decide when/how/to whom to give decisions. I know it's hard, and believe me I also reallyreallyreally wanna know, but I think it's too early to start emailing them to ask for updates. I feel/have heard that that is better practice to do later in the process, like march, if nothing's been heard yet.



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