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Admissions Grad School Admissions Process

  1. Jun 14, 2009 #1
    Hey everyone,

    I am a rising senior Elecrical engineering major at University of Delaware. I have done research in biomedical optics for 2 years and am highly motivated to go to graduate school. I have bought the book "Getting What You Came For", which is a guide to applying and living through graduate school. It's a great book, but I would like to know what some of you think about applying to grad school.

    My adviser at school gave me this advice: before you apply to graduate school, e-mail professors whose work you are interested in. Read their publications and try to ask questions. "Getting What You Came For" has similar advice. Basically, it sounds like the best bet to getting in is to have strong contacts at the school who are interested in being your adviser if you get in.

    I think this makes sense. I'm planning to go for my PhD, and I don't think it makes sense to go to a school for 6 years without knowing anyone there that is interested in working with you. However, I have been researching grad schools and looking for professors with research interests similar to mine (biomedical imaging/optics), and I have had a hard time understanding a lot of their publications. Again, I have been working with a professor for 2 years doing research, so I have some experience reading scientific articles in my field, but I still find it hard to fully understand everything that is going on in the publications I am reading. I can grasp big picture concepts, like the basic idea of the articles, what techniques they are using, but when it comes down to nitty gritty things such as equations and methods, I find it hard to get through.

    At the same time, however, I feel like it is somewhat normal for even an experienced undergrad to have a hard time understanding everything in scientific articles without clarification about some parts. So my question is: what should I say when I contact professors I am interested in? Should I try to talk to them about their research, or should I just say I am interested in working with them and talk about the research I have done?

    Any other advice on applying to grad school would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you,
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2009 #2


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    You might consider asking your research adviser for suggestions on who to get in touch with - that way, if nothing else, when you contact them you can say "so-and-so suggested I talk to you."

    I'm not a professor, so I don't know what exactly they'd want to hear, but I'd imagine that describing (briefly!) the research you are doing, or have done, couldn't hurt. Hopefully the professor you're contacting will understand what you've been doing, and it will give them an idea of whether you can contribute to their research project.

    (apologies for blatantly misusing "them"/"their" :wink:)
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