For a number of times in this blog we have recommended international students to contact professors at the U.S. schools they’re applying at.
Some of them took serious effort to talk to their potential grad school advisors, but an overwhelming majority cared less to take the effort to at least contact them.
Here is a very detailed write-up and experience of a grad student who had a very good experience in talking to professors.
- I would contact a couple of professors from each program with whom I would want to do research in.
- When these professors receive calls, they treat them like a professional phone interview. They will ask why do you want to go to that particular school, what you are doing for work or at school, what kind of research experience you have had, what are your future career plans, etc.
- I would start contacting professors the summer or fall before I apply to a program. So, if you are applying this December (which is generally the case for the following Fall semester), I would absolutely send emails before October.
- I had a wonderful experience talking to some faculty members when I applied at one of that school’s master’s programs. Most of the professors were very enthusiastic and supportive.
- If they still do not respond to an email, then they are probably super busy or do not have time to talk to students. Either way, it is not a good indication of the kind of advisor that person would be, in my opinion.
The above few pointers are only snippets from a lengthy article published at The Tao of Graduate School.
Interested students would definitely follow the above link and try to get more detailed information, but there will be another group of “I don’t care” students, who will ignore the detailed information and how that student had interacted with professors before applying to grad school (M.S. and PhD).