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Some useful tips during the application process for being accepted to universities

Some useful tips during the application process for being accepted to universities

Written by:

Tareq Obaida

Founder, Higher Study Prep

Msc., Texas A&M University

Former Teaching assistant, Texas A&M University

BSc., Electrical and Electronic Engineering, BUET  


1. Email Subject

When you are writing an email to a potential professor, the most important sentence you would write is the subject of the email. A professor receives hundreds of email from students every day and if your subject line is not interesting, professional or catchy enough he could just delete it without even opening it. 
Bad example - 
'Requesting for TA/RA'
'Requesting for funding'
'Hello' 😄
'Application for Ph.D.'

Good example - 
'Ph.D. opportunity under your supervision'👍
'Potential Ph.D. student Interested in your research area research_area_name'👍

The body of the email is also important. In my next post hopefully, I would write about what to write what not to write in an email. Stay tuned. :)

2. Email body- When you are writing to a potential professor

Do not ask for funding in your first email. Imagine you met a stranger and saying "Give me some money" 😜 how would it sound like?

Create a connection in your first email and make the professor feel interested.

You must do some research on professors work prior to writing to him. Try to read or skim-through 2-3 research papers of him/her. Briefly introduce yourself and tell him which research area you are interested in. Now, the research area must be one of the professor's research area, not yours. No one is interested in listening to your research interests unless he is also interested in that area.

Tell the professor how you could be a valuable asset in that field. Briefly introduce your prior experience/knowledge in that field or if you have no experience in that field tell him how your existing experience/knowledge could be valuable too.

Make the professor understand that you have done some research on him and how strong is your interest. There is no harm in little exaggeration in showing your interest.

Close your email in such a way that it triggers further communication. An example could be -

"Please advise me if you find my profile interesting. In that case, I would be happy to communicate with further details."

And don't forget to attach your resume, links to your publications, etc.

Happy writing. :) Let me know in the comment if you have any question.


"One other suggestion, make the email as brief as possible. We are used to writing long emails but guess what- Professors don't have time for that. In fact, don't be surprised if you get a very brief reply often consisting of few words (not even a sentence). That's how professors tend to communicate since they don't have time for lengthy emails" - Lubna Ahmed, Ph.D., Texas A&M University, USA


3. Email tracking and timing: 

Is email tracking a good or bad idea? That's a topic for debate. I personally found it helpful to know if my email was opened or not. 
You can use the service from Install their chrome extension and follow the instruction. You would be able to know if your email was opened and even the time of opening. They have a free option too.
Timing of sending your email is also important. I would recommend sending an email on the first hour of the professor's working hours. Please do check the timezone of the professor's location. It would not be nice to send an email at 3 am. The first hour is usually the time when people tends to check their email most.

4. A tiny but often overlooked tips:

Give a good name to the files that you would send to your professor. Do not just name your files like cv1 or cv2 or sop or sop_revised etc. 😠

A professor receives hundreds of emails and files and yours could be get lost among those. Naming your resume 'resume2' will demonstrate how careless you are and will create an immediate bad impression. 😢

A good example of file name - resume_of_your_full_name👍

Always send your file in pdf format, it's a universal format and it will not break even if the recipient is using a different operating system.👍

Please do not send in Microsoft doc format and expect your professor is using windows operating system or always have Microsoft office in his computer. 😟

5. Try to improve your spoken English:

It will make you more presentable on an online interview with your professor. On top of that, it's an excellent skill for TOEFL/IELTS exam and a must to improve your presentation skill.

Let's us know what technique do you follow to improve your speaking English?

 "Having a regular conversation with someone helps. If there isn't enough opportunity for that, try practicing presenting a certain topic-either a formal presentation or just a talk on an impromptu topic. There is no other better option than practice" - Lubna Ahmed, Ph.D., Texas A&M University, USA

You would also like to know: I20 is the most important document that you will need for a student visa in the USA

Those who are worried about GRE Verbal, they can see the videos: GRE High Frequency Word 

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