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econappl
02-16-2008, 03:38 AM
As I know, It is very important to contact some professors in the application for engineering PhD and natural science PhD. Is it the same for the application for economics PhD too? Have you contacted some professors before the application? Thanks a lot!

Luckykid
02-16-2008, 03:46 AM
I was under the presumption is was frowned upon...

Harb
02-16-2008, 03:48 AM
I was under the presumption is was frowned upon...
That was my understanding as well.

AstralTraveller
02-16-2008, 05:08 AM
Well, Fulbright made us contact professors at schools we wanted to apply to after we were awarded the scholarship...and I did it, against any logical gut I felt inside. I picked up a few professors, and I must admit that while some did not reply back --a subtle way of saying "I don't give a sh*t about your application or your Fulbright thing"--, some others (four to be exact) were very warm and nice.

Of course, the pre-filled letter that Fulbright handed us to send was almost offensive to the professors IMHO...it went along the lines of "Dear Professor: I am an indigenous coming from a family tribe of recollectors who for centuries have lived under shelters in the jungle. I'm the first generation of my family who learnt to write and read, and after I finished college, I earned a Fulbright scholarship. I discovered I wanted to do research on ______, and wanted to become a professor in ______, to help my tribe out of poverty, so this is why I want to pursue a PhD. Would you please help me get in and explain the details of the application process? Sincerely, Iam N. Ape".... I mean, none of the awardees came from any tribe! Why did we have to pretend something we were not? To inspire pity?

So I rewrote it entirely, and simply told the professors (in three short paragraphs) that I wanted to study Economics, with an especialization in Econometrics, that I had earned a Fulbright Scholarship, that I had admired his/her line of work and research for years (I only contacted people whose works I had thoroughly read before), and that I had contacted him/her because Fulbright had told me so. I also told them that any response was not binding in any way for them, and all I wanted from them was a reply telling me that it was OK for me to list them as the leading researcher in my preferred field, in order to be allowed by Fulbright to apply to their PhD program. Many of them not only replied back, but wished me luck with the application, knowing that they would evaluate all candidates equally. So, I made Fulbright happy (no, not really... but at least I complied with their request), I was happy to have interchanged e-mails with some of my "heroes", and the "heroes" were happy to know there were youngsters who were applying to their department because of them.

Morale of the story? Don't contact professors at Econ departments you are applying to, unless it's absolutely necessary. Yes, you might find nice answers, because many of them are really nice people, but most probably you will be disturbing them.
Most importantly, if you ever have to contact a professor prior to applying or during applications, don't go demonstrating how well you know their work, or to tell them about their papers. And, remember, keep your message short and to the point (unlike this post :blush:). They are busy people, and while they might be willing to help you, they have a thousand other issues to attend before you. So be extremely cautious. :2cents:

ekonomiks
02-16-2008, 05:23 AM
Sending emails to ask about RESEARCH never hurts. After all, before you spend 100 bucks on an application, you wanna know more about the professors whom you wanna work with, as their CV's don't tell you everything. On the other hand, if you had nothing to say or ask about research, sending an email just to increase your chance of admission would be a DUMB DUMB DUMB idea. Also, assume that professors are very smart people and would see right through your intention.

Olm
02-16-2008, 06:24 AM
Never contact professors for Econ before you are admitted. It is a big nono. In fact, a lot of department websites explicitly ask students to not contact professors.

After you are admitted is another story.

AstralTraveller
02-16-2008, 11:35 AM
Well, of course I agree with Olm. Why Fulbright asked us to do so (contacting professors) is beyond my understanding. I did it, but it was not a good idea despite the partially good results.

Maybe it is because they treat all applicants for all disciplines together, and maybe it is even necessary for other subjects, but most likely it's not any good for economics. Despite it all, I'm thankful I survived the experience.

Ibn Abbas
02-16-2008, 12:33 PM
Is it the same for the application for economics PhD too?

In general, it's a bad idea to contact them. But it also depends on the question(s) you need to ask them. I, for example, might be emailing the Ph.D supervisors of universities I will be applying to, in order to find out whether courses in my field (Development and Trade) are offered every year or every other year. It's a very important question, the answer to which is not always available on the website since they don't put up detailed course schedules from the past always.

Here's what the FAQ at NYU says:
NYU > Economics > Graduate Program > Ph.D. Programs > Bulletin (http://www.econ.nyu.edu/graduate/phd/faq.html#intouch)

sushigushi
02-16-2008, 04:36 PM
Well, Fulbright made us contact professors at schools we wanted to apply to after we were awarded the scholarship...

They seriously made you do that?!? How rude!

Which country are you from? I got a Fulbright in the Netherlands, and they made me do no such thing...

macroeconomicus
02-16-2008, 05:23 PM
Sending emails to ask about RESEARCH never hurts. After all, before you spend 100 bucks on an application, you wanna know more about the professors whom you wanna work with, as their CV's don't tell you everything. On the other hand, if you had nothing to say or ask about research, sending an email just to increase your chance of admission would be a DUMB DUMB DUMB idea. Also, assume that professors are very smart people and would see right through your intention.

It seems to me that even this kind of question is appropriate either BEFORE submitting your application or AFTER the decisions had been made and you had already been offered a spot in the program. I personally don't think that research subjects is that important of a question to ask. Applicants usually do not possess enough knowledge to ask intelligent questions beyond "does professor X advise students who would like to work in Y?".

AstralTraveller
02-16-2008, 05:49 PM
They seriously made you do that?!? How rude!

Which country are you from? I got a Fulbright in the Netherlands, and they made me do no such thing...

Small Latin American country :(

Ancalagon The Black
02-17-2008, 05:13 AM
I have always contacted professors. Some reply and some don't. Some replies are really nice and others are curt and business like. I requested everyone to visit my e-portfolio which displays my entire application in a much better way.

However, I have built up a nice email conversation with a few professors especially from a school where I want to go to. Maybe, if that professor is asked to recommend a person out of a pile of prospective applicants, he will remember my name and ask for me to be nominated.

Thats the exact kind of hope, I am dealing with. :)

Ancalagon The Black
02-17-2008, 05:16 AM
AT:

I wish that the Fulbright was available to graduate students in India instead of professors and post docs. I wonder what they would write for us ... "indigenous caste of snake charmers wanting to do research in the economics of snake venom?"

But seriously, that was the official letter?

dr_Shpak
02-17-2008, 11:29 AM
i contacted some professors too. some of them replyed (from princeton for example).
I know a guy how got to Stanford finance only because he contacted one professor very good. His profile was not the best i ever saw :) But it was 5 years ago :(

AstralTraveller
02-17-2008, 12:52 PM
AT:

I wish that the Fulbright was available to graduate students in India instead of professors and post docs. I wonder what they would write for us ... "indigenous caste of snake charmers wanting to do research in the economics of snake venom?"

But seriously, that was the official letter?

Well, the letter was not "official", but sent by a local officer on behalf of the local Fulbright Commission to us to "guide us" in the type of letter we should send to the programs.

And, while the sample I posted is not verbatim, yes, it is pretty similar to the one they sent to me, only shorter. And without references to "Iam N. Ape". That was me writing with tongue held firmly in cheek :blush:

"Indigenous caste of snake charmers wanting to do research in the economics of snake venom?" Nah, I don't think indian officers (or anybody from any other country different than mine) would be that stupid. :(

AT

Ancalagon The Black
02-17-2008, 05:27 PM
Yes, we are generally very sneaksy... :D