How many follow up emails do you write?

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Re: How many follow up emails do you write?

Postby John D. D, » Thu Jun 25, 2015 7:52 pm

It can work in a few different special situations. If people have great standardized test scores and a love of learning, but a really poor transcript, sometimes the poor transcript can reflect a high resistance to mass rote memorization. Sometimes, with well-designed lab courses, these students show high grades in their lab work, but many may just need more independence in what and how they learn.

I'm a little more worried about departments where the male applicants are in blue folders and the female applicants are in pink ones.
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Re: How many follow up emails do you write?

Postby Dick Woodward » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:09 am

Responding to Dave Walker's question, I actually found my eventual PhD lab through networking, although my story was perhaps a bit different than most. I was working in a lab as an undergraduate, and when it came time to start looking for a place to do my PhD, I set down with the lab head to talk about it. We were using a particular analytical technique, and I wanted to continue working with that technique but on different problems. He gave me a list of professors to apply to, and I eventually ended up with one of those as my PhD mentor.

The interesting feature of all of this is there was initially some resentment from the other professors. Among other things, I had negotiated a research assistantship rather than the standard teaching assistantship, which initially did not play well with the admissions committee - but they got over it. It appears to me that if a professor says "I want this student", they can generally get that student admitted.

My undergraduate mentor actually wanted me to stay in his lab, and since the department had a policy (formal or informal, I'm not certain) of not bringing their undergrads in as grad students, I'm told that there was quite a fight when my professor said that he wanted me. Ultimately, I did not get in there, and 20/20 hindsight says that that was the best decision.

So yes, you can use networking to help you find a PhD lab.

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Re: How many follow up emails do you write?

Postby M.A. » Sun Jun 28, 2015 2:18 pm

Our admission committee specifically looks for how well a student might "fit" within the program. We have an "umbrella" PhD program that covers many departments, and the students will rotate through multiple labs before selecting the advisor. However, we like to see that there is some evidence of (1) student being serious about researching the program and (2) that there is a decent chance they will find a good match for their interests. Typically this can be manifested as either (1) something the students mention in their personal statement, (2) answers to questions that we discuss during an interview, or (3) a brief contact with potential advisors (but in that case, I would avoid multiple e-mails, a single e-mail expressing your interest would be fine).
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Re: How many follow up emails do you write?

Postby SLC » Thu Jul 02, 2015 8:51 am

Thank you very much for your comments! :)

I decided to write him a second and last email to let him know I applied to a position in his department

If I still do not get a reply it will be easier to forget about it and to move on.
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