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Edulix Advisory Page on Contacting Professors
for Information on Research Assistantship

Thanks, mainly to the Internet, it has now become easy and also advisable for aspiring graduate students to establish some kind of professional contacts with professors at their programs of choice even before setting foot on campus. The contact is done, primarily to seek advice and information from professors who are actively pursuing research in the areas of mutual interest to the aspiring graduate student and the professor.

Recognizing the importance of such cordial and professional contacts (what we call here at Edulix as "Prof-letting"), the Edulix Academic Advisory Panel has released the following guidelines for its membership.

  1. Do your Homework First. This involves going to the web-site of the programs of interest and browsing through the web-sites of professors that outline their teaching and research areas. Use popular search engines like "Google" to search for papers that the professors have published. In general, assistant and associate professors tend to be very much active in research, particularly cutting-edge research. Your search should, therefore, should concentrate on them.
  2. The introductory e-mail should be
    1. Short with a maximum length of 1-page.
    2. Cordial, polite and up to the point.
    3. Do not ask financial aid in your first contact. First determine whether the professor has ongoing researches and have opening for RA.
  3. The e-mail should contain the following:
    1. Introduction. Mention your name, your major area of study, the institution you graduated from, GRE and TOEFL scores and your GPA or aggregates. Also if possible indicate your rank standing.
    2. Details on your Research Interests. This section should contain description of your interest areas, how you found about the research interests of the professor, your observation that there is a mutual interest in selected research areas. Also include any course work, work experience, project work or research that you may have done that is directly or indirectly related to the professor's work.
    3. Reasons why you think you are Qualified to work with the Professor. This section is where you are expected to convince the professor that you are qualified and possess the right combination of skills (written and oral communication skills, ability for independent study and research, track record of good academic, work and research experience). Be honest and do not embellish your records. If you do not have enough experience in research or industry but possess enough will and discipline to carry good research, indicate that.
    4. Concluding Remarks. Wrap-up your e-mail with a polite salutation and list of references, web-sites with your resume, etc.
  4. Once you send your e-mail, wait for 2-3 weeks. If there is no reply, do send another message. If the professor does not reply to these e-mails, then respect his wishes and discontinue communication.
Sample Letter:

Dear Professor A. XXXX

My name is S. G. and I am a graduate of the Asian Institute of Technology at Bangkok with a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. My GRE score is 1970 (A=710, Q=760, V= 500). I had scored 240-270 in TOEFL while my CGPA stands at 3.2/4.0. My rank is 10th in a graduating class of 75 students.

I am interested in pursuing a graduate study and an eventual career in the areas of wireless communications. I have taken 2 undergraduate courses in this area and my final project involved designing an interface and a software architecture for a WAP-based browser. The project won an honorable mention in the annual college of engineering technology competition. I also had a Summer internship at the Kyocera wireless unit here in Bangkok in 2001.

I became aware of your similar research interest in this area through browsing your home-page and also your publications. I have applied for a master's degree program in your institution and have a lot of interest in joining your research group. Because of my good grasp of the theory of wireless communication and the projects I have done together with my experience as a Summer intern at Kyocera Wireless, I am confident that I can be a productive member of your research group. I will definitely be very glad to be considered for any current or upcoming graduate research or project assistantship you may have.

You may find more information on my academic and industry background on my site at:

http://www.edulix.com/shared/community-member.tcl?user_id=9999

With my best regards,

S.G.
Bangkok, Thailand

Document Prepared by:
A. Bikila - Edulix Advisory Panel

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