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2.3 Professors

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Definitely talk to as many professors as you can get your hands on about applying to graduate school. You’ll need to speak to as many as possible because, as you’ll quickly discover, most of them will give you a general “you’re a great student, and there are lots of good programs out there that I’m sure will be happy to accept you” response and no real helpful information about which programs you should apply to. If you do manage to elicit an actual opinion about a graduate program, more often than not this opinion will in fact be a reflection of some personal grudge the professor has with a particular school or a professor at that school. For this reason, you need to confirm anything you hear from one professor with another professor, and preferably one in a different area of research. Also, make sure that the opinions you’re hearing are based on recent knowledge of a department, as opposed to an experience 15 years ago as a graduate student.

Another option is emailing a professor at a program that you might be interested in. While this behavior is frowned upon in some fields, because it happens far too frequently and the professors get irritated, it seems to be acceptable in linguistics to email a professor in another department and let them know that you’re thinking of applying to their school and that you’re interested in their research. However, this might not be so helpful in terms of deciding whether or not to apply to a particular school, because you’re not likely to get an honest evaluation of that school’s program from a professor who works there. Still, it is something. A professor may tell you that they don’t share your research interests or, contacting a professor could spawn contacts to other professors in other departments and other schools. Certainly opening an email thread can demystify the process, which in itself is empowering. Finally, it could give you an edge in the admissions process if you have shown an interest at the same time other candidates were too afraid to try. If you’re accepted, having a connection could help you reach a decision when it comes time to deciding among offers.

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Written by applelinguist

January 7, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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