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Thread: Is it always better to mention specific professors in SOP?

  1. #11
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Re: Is it always better to mention specific professors in SOP?

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    Quote Originally Posted by startz View Post
    When I am reading apps, many applicants list names that don't make any sense. Folks who have left or people who don't fit the research areas the students say they are interested in. I mostly ignore it, but it certainly doesn't help the application. My advice--if you really have a reason for wanting to work with a particular faculty member it's fine to mention. But trying to game the process doesn't work.
    Thank you for your input starz.
    If I mention one professor for the reason that you mentioned above but that professor happens to be leaving, would that lead to a negative impact on my chance of getting admitted?

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    Re: Is it always better to mention specific professors in SOP?

    I pay very little attention, so it wouldn't matter. Can't speak for what others do.

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    Re: Is it always better to mention specific professors in SOP?

    Quote Originally Posted by startz View Post
    I pay very little attention, so it wouldn't matter. Can't speak for what others do.
    Thank you again.
    What would be the most important part of the statement then?
    Future interests? I feels like other than future interests the rest section is rather very general, talking about coursework and research experience?

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    Re: Is it always better to mention specific professors in SOP?

    To me, very little of the statement is important...but others differ.

    Talking about specific research you have done is sometimes valuable. If you have a credible reason for signaling that you would accept an offer to join the program, like "my husband will be a second year PhD student in microbiology at your University," that can help.

    This is also the place to explain something special that looks like a problem. For example, "You will see that I got B's in linear algebra my sophomore year. I was being treated for cancer. Fortunately, the treatment was successful and you will see that I got an A+ in real analysis as a junior." [Showing you have overcome the problem is important here. Otherwise, leave it alone.]

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    Re: Is it always better to mention specific professors in SOP?

    Quote Originally Posted by startz View Post
    To me, very little of the statement is important...but others differ.

    Talking about specific research you have done is sometimes valuable. If you have a credible reason for signaling that you would accept an offer to join the program, like "my husband will be a second year PhD student in microbiology at your University," that can help.

    This is also the place to explain something special that looks like a problem. For example, "You will see that I got B's in linear algebra my sophomore year. I was being treated for cancer. Fortunately, the treatment was successful and you will see that I got an A+ in real analysis as a junior." [Showing you have overcome the problem is important here. Otherwise, leave it alone.]
    Thank you so much for your insightful advice!

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    Re: Is it always better to mention specific professors in SOP?

    We read the SOP to get a sense of your general areas of interest (so we know if you are a good fit with our department) and whether you can communicate clearly. No need to name professors.

    In many cases, naming professors backfires because three professors work in very different areas, or one is retired, or doesn't work with graduate students, or isn't research-active, etc.

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