Smarty Pants and Depressed

Raghuram Sukumar Study in USA 37 Comments

I debated several times before coming up with the the above title. But, you will understand the reason at end of this email conversation for the blog title.

Time and time again I have said applying to US colleges for higher education is not a joke. You have to pay attention to every detail. Students are expected to have certain degree of professionalism.

Student X Writes –

I received an email with Subject – Depressed.

I applied for Fall 2011 to the USA for Mechanical engineering.
My GRE score is 1320 (Q: 760, V: 560, AWA:3.5) My Bachelors score is 65% under VTU. Which isn’t bad but not great either (First class.) My TOEFL score is 94. I’ve 4 projects in my name- 2 internships, an international and national conference paper. I applied early enough as well…
But I got 8 rejects.
I didn’t over-apply. Schools like UT-Dallas and Oklahoma University have rejected me. So have Univ of Florida, ASU, SUNY-Buffalo, Illinois institute of Technology.
My SOP looked decent and my recommendation letters were pretty good.
Can anyone tell me where my profile has gone wrong?
I see people with GRE and bachelors score below mine get into good schools.


Send your SOP, LOR, Resume for review.

FYI – Any documents you sent cane be used in the blog later. If you are ok with that we can evaluate your profile.

Student X (with different email subject, but same email id)

Hello Sir, I’ve forwarded my reco letters and my SOP. I followed everything in the rule book.

You can put my docs online but please don’t mention my name.
Thanks a lot..
Document contains name that is different from the name of the person sending email. So, I doubt Student X sent the original documents for evaluation.


Did you use the the same email id, while completing the application?

(wordings changed, it was not grammatically correct)

Student X

Yes, this is the one…


No wonder your application was rejected.

You applied to some 8 schools right?

Seriously you how can you expect to use such email id [email protected] and get admission?

Email id is edited a bit (but has the same meaning)


How can a person who has engineering degree can even think of using such email id for college application?

Lessons to Learn

  1. When communicating with someone on same topic, always use the same email chain.
  2. If you don’t want to send original document, atlest take time t edited the name in the documents to make it look like yours.
  3. Try to use professional looking email id. If you have your primary email id is not professional looking, then create one.

Try to create an email id that reflected your name. Example

  • Firstname.lastname
  • lastname.firstname
  • firstname initial.lastname
  • firstname.last name initial
  • Avoid using numbers (if possible)
  • don’t use other words

Examples of Bad Email Id’s for using during college applications

Above examples were taken from prospective students who has sent email to HSB.

I will discuss another major problem students have to overcome to have successful career in USA or any other country.


  • Do you agree to the blog title, was it too harsh?
  • Do you think you would have used similar looking email id for your US College application?

Update 1: Student X sent email saying different email Id was used and smartypants email id was used to communicate in the blog and feelings was hurt.

Intent of this post was not to hurt anyone feelings. It was completely based on the email conversation and this will help several hundred students. If proper email id was indeed used, then sorry you got all rejects, but this will serve as a lessons on why one should use a proper email id.

Update 2: Blog title updated.


  1. Haha, I had a cool e-mail address I used before. I shut that down before starting to contact the universities and such 😛

  2. I dont know whether an inappropriate email ID is worthy of getting a rejection, but i certainly believe that it creates a bad impression.
    We all know that universities not only look for a good academic record of the applicant, but they also want to see whether this applicant will continue studying hard, has a zeal to excel, has a matured look towards life etc. For that we send SOPs, LORs etc. They look for minute things in the applications to make their decision. An applicant should be as professional as possible not only during the application process but also during the follow-up.

  3. Thanks to Dr. Deutschman and Daniel for giving your insights on this topic. Getting insider knowledge provides ton of clarity.

    This certainly does clear the confusion and provide closure to the argument.

    Thanks again for your time.

  4. An application is a set of materials, communications, and interactions that hopefully result in an admission offer for the candidate. This mosaic can be distorted by one particular aspect of the application and that can end one's chance of admission. It is good advice to use your name as the email address, or even one created for the express purpose of application communication.

    I would not deny admission to someone based on this alone, but chances are this is an indication of other poor choices during the application process. Applicants are being evaluated with every interaction to the admissions committee and if the other interactions are unprofessional, casual, or in any way antagonistic, then the combined impression could be that the candidate should be denied admission.

    Once I knew a candidate that presented well during the application process and earned admission based on is strong qualifications. After admission, but before enrolling, the new admit began behaving unprofessionally and for the first time ever, I wished to rescind an offer. There was no problem with the email account, but the point is that etiquette and professionalism are linked and candidates should evaluate everything that comes into contact with the admissions committee.

  5. Without seeing the actual documents, I suggest there are several possible issues with this student. First, the email address is ridiculous. It is unprofessional and says very loudly, “I am an immature little kid.” And as an admissions officer, if I had to make a choice between this student and someone else with identical qualifications and a more professional presentation, the choice is obvious. Most of the time I would not deny the student entrance just because of this, but it leaves a poor impression.

    Now add to that the fact that the record is not particularly strong, and the schools listed are reasonably selective, and the final answer is, “Not accepted.” The selectivity of the college and the number of applicants as well or better qualified, is probably the reason for his rejections, but the email address certainly did not help.

    A professional email address is like wearing a clean shirt to an interview — wearing it will not get you a job (or admission) but NOT having one, if you are in a really competitive situation, can kill your chance!


  6. Yes, I totally agree with this.
    Universities would definitely want a professional approach towards your application. Putting myself in shoes of the people involved in giving admits, I would have serious doubts over the credibility of students sending e-mails from id’s like [email protected] or [email protected]
    When I apply this fall, I would definitely use the organizational id provided by my college to apply…

  7. Hmm….

    Of course the E-mail does seem to show a lack of earnest sincerity, I must say that it cannot possibly be a major factor. Maybe the candidate above went for a course specialization in which he had no previous experience or activity. His SOP could have been sub-par or he could have had poor letters of recommendation. Of course, he should have sent a better sounding email Id, but come on! The fact that your entire academic career’s evaluation was overshadowed by an EMAIL ID???

    That just sounds totally iniquitous and rather absurd. Though well, its better to be safe than sorry.

  8. I totally agree with HSB’s views on this, and its good this issue has been brought up. I believe that when universities say that they look at the complete profile of a student, and not just the GRE and academic scores, having a stupid e-mail ID shows complete lack of seriousness and motivation in a candidate. Its all about making good first impressions, after all its a panel of human beings that are evaluating the application and not some computer software.

  9. I seriously wonder how could a student with good academics( “International & National paper” ) use such an e-mail id?

  10. After reading the comments posted below and with reference to above post, I decided to start Email Etiquette series.

    One of the main reason why students don’t take email seriously is because they never had chance to communicate professionally nor spent time to learn how to communicate via email.

    Sending email message and chatting with friends doesn’t improve your professional communication skills.

    You can lose your job for just one wrong word or sentence in email. People take email seriously. Email reflects you as a person.

    1. Mr Happy Schools Blog. You know this happened a while ago.
      You knew you manipulated these emails to your advantage. I would like these posts removed asap because you’ve humiliated me.
      It would be kind of you.
      Thank you.

  11. This is crap. Applications wont be rejected outrightly just because someone has a bad email id. Yes,it may have some negative impact but come on, schools are not looking for people with good email id. They are looking for people with good profiles. I feel that this guy has a good enough profile. There must be other substantial reason for the rejects. I also applied to four schools and got four rejects. My scores are a bit higher than his but I dont have the papers and conferences to my credit that this person has. All along, I was thinking that maybe lack of papers and conferences was the reason for my rejects but this profile has me questioning my assumption. And yes, my email id is [email protected]. So, HSB’s logic is really lame. HSB should be more mature and responsible. Frequencey of arrogant posts have been increasing steadily.

    1. If someone is going to use email that looks like smartypantskickingass then response to that will and should be arrogant. You are still long ways away from learning and understanding communication skills.
      Come to US and try using words Ass, f*ck in your emails or daily words in work place, emails to professors or any other professional communications and see what kind of response you will get.

      From NYTimes
      students seem unaware that what they write in e-mail could adversely affect them, Professor Lahav said. She recalled an e-mail message from a student saying that he planned to miss class so he could play with his son. Professor Lahav did not respond.

      “It’s graduate school, he’s an adult human being, he’s obviously a parent, and it’s not my place to tell him how to run his life,” she said.

      But such e-mail messages can have consequences, she added. “Students don’t understand that what they say in e-mail can make them seem very unprofessional, and could result in a bad recommendation.”

      1. Another Point to add –
        Don’t send or forward emails containing libelous, defamatory, offensive, racist or obscene remarks. By sending or even just forwarding one libelous, or offensive remark in an email, you and your organization (business, school, association, etc.) can face court cases resulting in multi-million dollar penalties.

        1. This guy has an International and National Conference Paper to his credit, then how come he was so careless about the email id he was using.
          But HSB you would be shocked to learn that a majority of the professionals in India still use slangs in their mails. Trust me professional etiquett’s in India are missing big time.

          1. + some colleges don’t even issue email id’s based on their college domain.

          2. This guy is correct. The guy(s) who runs HSB needs to realize that no one wishes to belittle him and chill out!!

            Sometimes, your suggestions just seem very odd. And its a forum….People have a right to say what they wish. Come up with concrete reasoning and facts instead of splurging replies just to bolster your ego!

          3. Completely agree that people have right to say what they wish and same applies to me. Blog is something where I express my opinion and that’s the difference between being a journalist, where story will be balanced. I have to right to express my ego or arrogance through my blog. I thought it was not professional for an engineer to communicate using such email id..which shows the nature of the person. You are thinking in terms of what you want, not what college wants with a candidate they admit.

          4. And sir,

            In this case the college wants someone with a sweet email id instead of a good record???

          5. College admission requirements doesn’t follow commutative law right. It takes only small bit of damaging information to go from getting admission to rejection.

          6. + If you want to have a constructive criticism, I’m all for it and there is no need to use the word arrogant. If someone wants to use the word arrogant, then such reply demands the same respect.

          7. You’re rambling again!…. Try finishing stuff off in one post. This is not a fight or an argument…. we’re just saying what we feel and why!

  12. I don’t know , what is happening with students these days. They Just wat to get admit from US Universities. No matter what it takes.

    I think, so many rejectiong in visa interview is because of this attitude. “Just want to get in USA” This thread is one of the example of this.

    1. I wish there was an option to “like” this comment 🙂
      But, yea.. the focus has got to be the pursuit of quality education, rather than of any country.

  13. the guy totally deserved admits frm utd and Oklahoma, but its hard to believe it’s because of an E-mail ID!
    maybe he should write the university people asking for reason, they usually give.

  14. Hi HSB,

    I have been following this blog from over an year now. I have seen many people posting various experiences here. To be honest, even I am quite depressed on my rejects too but there are many other factors that have influenced my decision some of which include, a low GRE(1080) and wrong choice of the universities. It often so happens that all the valuable things in world are kept for the last and hence, I’ve come across this blog after my application. My rejects haven’t stopped me from focusing my life as I now hold a job at GE LifeSciences, Dubai as a Technical support Engineer and working part-time as a Radio Jockey at a Telugu Radio station here. I enjoy working and making my money but I am re-appearing for GRE on June 9th. I know that I would definitely give it a much more committed try and hopefully I should increase my score by a fair margin. I have a made balanced list of universities to apply for Spring. What happened for Fall made me mend my mistakes but some of the acquaintances I have made during the process of admission (Professors, seniors and fellow-applicants), all have been an asset during this term. They’ve advised me on how to obtain a decent admission with my profile that is a best fit. Lastly, as it did to hundreds of other US aspirants, HSB has played an inevitable role in taking up the challenge the second time.

    Now I am just having my fingers crossed with an optimistic approach.

  15. The reason for your rejections is rightly pointed out by HSB.

    It is very shocking to know that you didn’t realize the magnitude of such a trivial thing as an email id.

    You might want to argue that it’s just an email id, why such a big fuss about it? It’s like going to a job interview wearing shorts and slippers. You’re not offending anybody by it but it looks seriously unprofessional.

    I hope you can learn from this and rectify your mistake. There’ll be no reason why it should be rejected.

  16. Hey
    My sympathy for 8/8 rejections with such a good profile.
    But HSB you really pointed out a very minute points which should help subsequent prospective students.
    Personally speaking, things like this ain’t expected from an engineer not a bit. At least not from someone who did 4 proj, 2 internships and presented an international paper.
    PS: excuse me for over reacting.

  17. well, i would say that the possible chances of reject are, UT DALLAS expects a sound gpa in the undergrad. my friends with gre – 1120 n acads 83% were admitted into UT DALLAS. same goes to SUNY BUFFALO as well. a friend of mine with acads 78% and gre 1140 was through the admission. i guess the same is true for ASU n IIT.

    1. its true, even people with 1000 something gre and 80+ percentage got admits while i got a reject with 1280 and 61%

      1. Hi my gre score is 1280 (700 quant and 580 verbal ,3.5 analytical)
        toefl score is 111 and undergrad gpa is 6.8/10. I have done a few projects and also 2 internships . i had applied for m.s in electrical engg. for fall and have so far got 10 rejects am awaiting decision on my last 4. I have completely failed to understand the reason and have completely lost hope.
        Now reading this article am i to understand that this is all because of my email id? [email protected]?
        If anyone can help me out and suggest what univ’s to apply for spring it would be a world of help.

        1. i would recommend u to apply for texas tech university, george mason university, New jersey institute of technology (NJIT)

          1. i too completely agree with HSB. ONE of the reason for your rejection is your completely unprofessional email id. your low academic percentage also might have played a role. so, before applying again create a good email id and also go through the academic requirement put forward by the university and department for your programme.

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