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Cold Calling for grad school?

  1. Apr 10, 2009 #1

    So I don't have that much of a competitive GPA. I'm wondering how much useful it is to call some schools by phone before sending the application? As in, to make a short yet detailed call about why they should consider my application by having other strong components (such as work experience).

    How about doing so via e-mail?

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 10, 2009 #2
    It's a very good idea. In fact I'd say that's what you should always do. Not the department but professors. In general I don't think you should send your application to a school unless you already know there's a professor there who is willing to look it over. I would suggest finding professors who you'd be interested in working with (and let's face it, would be willing to work with you) and send them an e-mail asking if they're taking on grad studentsand BRIEFLY (and I mean briefly, they don't want to read a page of writing) talk about your interests and be honest that you don't have the best GPA and see what they say. No point in wasting the $70 or so per school if there aren't any profs willing to take you. Though, that being said, in general you will need a GPA that meets the bare minimum of the department in order for your application to even get to the prof but a weak GPA can very much be offset by good research experience and recommendation letters.
  4. Apr 10, 2009 #3


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    It doesnt hurt only help as long as you arent over the top with it.
  5. Apr 10, 2009 #4
    so if the grad school set some minimum requirements that you do not meet, however you have a good reason for it or as you said good research experience and recommendation letters that the professor considered a considerable weight to make up what you lack then the professor would be the person who make the absolute decision over grad school of whom he selects for admission right?
  6. Apr 10, 2009 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    Wow. That's some sentence!

    It depends on the school, but many schools do not do things that way. I know of one school, near the bottom of the rankings, where the dean has stated that a 3.0 GPA is an absolute cutoff. To accept a student with below a 3.0, no matter what else is in his or her folder, requires permission of the provost. (Put another way, it's easier to hire a professor than to accept a grad student with poor grades there)
  7. Apr 10, 2009 #6


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    I'm pretty sure the graduate school admissions process is outlined in ZapperZ's "So You Want To Be A Physicist" essay. But to clear up some misconceptions...

    Most graduate schools have a graduate admissions committee, and it is this committee that ranks the applicants and decides who to make offers to - rather than individual professors. In order to be considered you have to meet minimum entrance requirements - first to the school itself, then to the department. These usually consist of a minimum GPA and completion of an undergraduate degree in your field by a certain date.

    I'm not aware of any cases where students who did not meet the minimum requirements got in. I'm sure they exist, but when the pool of applicants who meet the minimum requirements is greater than the number of positions available (which is almost always the case) you would have to have a damned good reason to even be considered if you don't meet the minimum. A few good reference letters and some research experience won't cut it.

    As far as contacting graduate schools, it's a good idea and in my opinion a necessary part of the application process. You should visit the school, speak with a graduate advisor, associate chair (or whichever member of the faculty administers graduate students), and speak with a few potential supervisors as well as some graduate students. If you're going to spend the next 2-6 or more years of your life in this place, it only makes sense that you investigate it to some degree.
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