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AN INSIGHT INTO E MAILING

By Afnan Bin Helal on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 1:02am

(This doc has been Compiled by Afnan Bin Helal in an effort to draw a basic guideline as to
Emailing. Having been in a time constrain, I however apologize if any portion of this document is
misleading.)
SECTION A: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

1. How should I Ask about Admission, Fellowships or Assistantships in Email?


Asking directly that I need admission or funding is a very bad idea. It does not show that you are
interested. You have to frame your sentences properly indicating your interest in school and
program. Honestly, do not try to just create a fake interest or impression by saying your school is
good, blah, blah, blah. Be genuine and write sincerely what you know about the school and what
kind of research is at school. Do some homework about school, read the department website and
research area, program info. You have to indicate that you are interested in the school because you
like so and so stuff and you would like to be part of it. For funding, you may ask like I like to do
research in this area, how is the funding situation for new students in this area ?. Do new students
get any assistantships in first semester ?. By phrasing it this way, you are not being desperate. It is
asking in general. Most of the times, professors say, once you arrive here, meet me and we can
discuss funding information.
2. What should be the Subject line for Emailing professors for Graduate School Admission?
Subject line is the most important piece of email. Most the emails are not even opened by
professors; they just look at subject line and delete them. The main reason is, they get so much
email from university, students, research, etc. If you put in subjects like Hello, Hi, How are you? ,
admission, scholarship, etc. The chances are your email is not even read. They will just delete it.
Here are some sample subject lines to email professors for admission:

Fall 2011 Prospective Student: Research Info needed

Summer 2011 Student: Artificial Intelligence Research Question

Spring 2012 prospective student: Need Admission Information

Fall 2012 Student : Need info on Research prospects at UW-Madison

Summer 2012: Research Assistantships Info needed, URGENT !


The key word to mention in subject line is PROSPECTIVE STUDENT. The trick is, no professor
would throw away any email if it has prospective student because, you are a potential student to the

university and they will read it and reply or forward it right person if they do not know. Think about it,
prospective students are the future customers for the School.
3. Why is it important to have a good subject line for emailing Admissions or Professors?
I started my first Graduate (MS) class and the professor handed out the syllabus. The guidelines on
the first page under contact section, Email Subject should at least say the COURSE NUMBER and
some relevant info, if not, Emails will be deleted as SPAM. I thought to myself Oh MY GOD !
none of my emails were read. Just imagine the situation from a professor perspective, professors
teach two to three classes and students they interact with can vary anywhere from 50 200, also
they are in all the faculty email listings, they get emails from University, Personal emails,
advertisement emails, etc The reality is, there are way too many emails for them to open, read and
validate. On top of this, there is a virus threat. So, NO ONE really opens the email if they see
anything that is not familiar or really meaningful. Please avoid the subject line as I stated in the
beginning. It is same case with admissions department. A university strength can vary from 10,000
to 70,000. Imagine how many people would be applying ? at least 30,000 to 200,000. Admissions
do not take time to read every email that does not say any appropriate info about seeking admission.
They just delete or put in other list and review later. Overall, the point is, email subject is very critical.
In fact, personally I do not read any email if I do not see proper subject line, because I get so many
emails
4. How important this is to put Professors Research Information in Email?
Your email should clearly demonstrate that you have a complete understanding about the professors
research area and what he actually does in that area. The key thing to understand is, every
professor specializes in particular research area and they have research grants only related to that
particular research area. They can only consider you for funding, if you are interested in the research
they specialize in. When you write an email to professor, you should mention about research and
use some technical jargon related to his research area. You may only do that if you have read few
research papers that they have written. So, if you can read few research papers of the professors
and mention about them in the email, it clearly shows that you have done your homework and they
will be interested in at least replying to you. You should try to write your technical interests and be
able to tie to back to the research area of the professor. You can mention about your research
papers or technical presentations. If you have none, just show your interest by doing some
homework about topic. For instance, you may say, I am very interested to pursue research in
Neural Networks and their impact on real time decisions. You have to do your homework and write
as much research info as you can.
5. Does it really count; English, Grammar and Punctuations in the Email?
I have seen students write emails without using proper English, especially grammar and
punctuations. If you do not write email without proper English, it clearly indicates your incompetency
and lack of good writing skills. Professors do NOT want to even reply to these kind of emails. They
are academicians, writing good English is mandatory to succeed. The expect someone applying to
Graduate school to have proper writing skills and ability to articulate your ideas properly. So, be
careful when you write email. Do not use chat language like c u then, hw r u ?, life gud . You have

to write proper English with proper capitalizations, punctuations, and grammar. If you do not have
these, you may not get positive response. In fact, in one of my first graduate classes, one of my
professors told us that he will not respond to emails that do not have proper English and we may get
negative points too. So, be careful!
6. What to investigate and take action accordingly if my email goes unanswered?
There are many reasons an email might go unanswered. Heres a list of some of the more common
reasons.
They never got your email:
Email does go missing in the ether and can get eaten by a spam filter without anyone realising it. If
you dont hear back in 2-4 weeks, its fine to try again. Just review the rest of these points first, and
make sure youre writing the clearest email possible. Choose a clear subject line that doesnt look
like spam.
The email is completely incoherent. I hope that everyone reading this will avoid this one, but its
surprisingly common. Some people send off an email with so many misspellings, missing words, and
other problems that its impossible to figure out whats going on without taking a great deal of time
and energy. Not a high priority for people with a lot else on their plate.
The email is very vague. Some people send a very general email I want to learn about Wicca: tell
me everything. Some people have a generic answer they cut and paste to this kind of email a list
of good resources, places to start, discussion forums with lots of people who might have a spare
moment to answer. (This website is my partial answer to this.) But if someone doesnt have that set
up, they might not answer.
The email is asking about something the reader cant offer. For example, someone might ask
about training in a totally different area of the country. Again, many people now have a simple reply
they can paste in with information on how to find groups in someones area, but if they dont, finding
that can take quite some time.
The person is not online much:
It can be easy to forget, but there are lots of people out there who do not live online. Many spend
only a few minutes on email most days, or focus on communication with close friends and family, and
spend most of their time doing other things. Some people may not have email at home, or might
have computer problems, or just be out doing other things.
Whatever the reason, it often means that someone may not answer vague or general emails and
just focus on the very specific ones related to their group.
Some group leaders only answer group-related emails at specific points. Some do it once a
week or once a month (unless a crisis or special event comes up, when it might be longer). Some
only answer emails about the group when their next training opening comes along. The group I
trained with used to save up emails until the next set of introductory classes was scheduled (which
might be 3-4 months after the email), though they now send a brief reply with an idea of when the
next class might be much more quickly.

7. Any Bad Example?


Here is that sort of email:
Dear Professor xx, I am a student at XXX College and Im thinking about graduate school on xxx
and Im getting in touch to ask if you can give me any advice or direction about that.
Sincerely,
X
Another one;
Hi Professor, Im applying for admission to your university for Fall semester, Im want to know if you
can give me funding?
These are instant-delete emails.
8. I had clear guidelines, and I tried it in several potential ways but I am yet to get a response?
What should I Do now?
Keep breathing, thats the key. Even if your approach is right the fact is not many professors usually
respond to prospective students applying to Masters Degree.
Here is an Example;
Dear Dr.x,
I, XXXXXX, am pursuing bachelors degree in electrical engineering at Anna University, Chennai,
India. I am applying for MS(EE) program offered by XXXXX in Fall 2010. I am interested in joining
your research group at the Multimedia and Networking Lab.
I studied your article Hand Gesture-based Computing for Hearing and Speech Impaired, which
appeared in the IEEE Multimedia Magazine. I am currently working on a voice controlled robot for
physically challenged persons. I am very much interested in the part that deals with generation of
gestures from speech input. I would like to contribute to your work in that area.
Will you be accepting students into your lab for the year 2010? I would be glad if you could direct me
to few other related publications.
Thanks for your time. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
The email was good but the Professor replied;
You can touch base after you arrive here. However, I do not have any funding for Masters students.
9. What are the Basic rules/ tips to follow while emailing Professors?
There are some basics you have to remember before you start to think about emailing. Most of these
apply for emailing professors for the first time. I have explained few of them in previous articles. I will
summarize them and list them as rules.

Have good subject line.

No grammar or spelling mistakes.

Proper punctuations, capitalization, etc. Good English.

No long emails. Should be around 5 to 7 sentences or less.

Email only on week days ( think of weekdays in US)

Do NOT attach anything like resume or you research paper, etc( in first email)

Read few research papers published by the professor before emailing.

Use proper technical jargon related to their research

Refer to professor as Dr. LAST NAME of Professor. No Dear or Hi, etc.

Try to highlight the key research area or your project by bold or underline.

Do NOT refer to local companies or anything that is local to your country.

Do NOT ask directly if you will get funding in first email.

Three basic guidelines for emailing professors at prospective graduate programs:


1. Do not inundate the professor with questions. Ask only one or two specific questions and
you will be much more likely to get a reply than if you ask a series of questions.
2. Be specific. Dont ask questions that will require more than a sentence or two in response.
In-depth questions about their research usually falls in this area. Remember that professors
may be pressed for time. An email that looks like it will take more than a minute or two to
answer may be ignored.
3. Dont ask questions that are outside of a professors purview.

SECTION B: SAMPLE E-MAILS

Sample-1
Dear Professor XXX,
I am a student at XXX College with a major in xxx. I am a [junior] and will be graduating next May. I
have a [4.0 GPA] and experience in our colleges [summer program in xxx/internship program in
xxx/Honors College/etc.].

I am planning to attend graduate school in xxx, with a focus on xxx. In one of my classes, xxx,
which was taught by Professor XXX, I had the chance to read your article, xxxx. I really enjoyed it,
and it gave me many ideas for my future research. I have been exploring graduate programs where I
can work on this topic. My specific project will likely focus on xxxx, and I am particularly interested in
exploring the question of xxxxx.
I hope you dont mind my getting in touch, but Id like to inquire whether you are currently accepting
graduate students. If you are, would you willing to talk to me a bit more, by email or on the phone, or
in person if I can arrange a campus visit, about my graduate school plans? I have explored your
departments graduate school website in detail, and it seems like an excellent fit for me because of
its emphasis on xx and xx, but I still have a few specific questions about xx and xxx that Id like to
talk to you about.
I know youre very busy so I appreciate any time you can give me. Thanks very much,
Sincerely,
XX
Sample-2
Dear Professor or Dear Dr.Last Name,
My name is /First Name/ and I am a current student at /University or College Name/ . As part of my
Undergraduate project work with Professor Dr.XYZ implementing x y and z methods using
technologies, .
I am contacting you because Im applying to programs in Major this . My research interests are in A,
B, and C
From your web page I saw that that you have done research on project x and y. Because of our
similar interests, your lab is one of the ones I am intrigued by at Graduate University. If you will be
accepting any students into your lab for the 2007-2008 year? Id be interested in hearing more about
your particular lab and getting in touch with some of your current students.
If not, can you recommend other professors with similar interests who will be accepting students? If
you are accepting new students, Please feel free to direct me towards your most recent research
(manuscripts, etc) as well.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
Best Wishes,
You.

SECTION C: UNDERSTANDING E-MAILS /PROFESSORS FEEDBACK


This part has been a common interest now at this part of the year. And thats a lot to go compiling a
brief understanding as to it. Lets see.

SECTION D: WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT

SCETION E: TO-DO, NOT-TO-DO

Personalize the message

If you send an e-mail the focus of your contact should be on the professor not on you.

Do not use any fancy formatting

Send it from a professional email address (that is, your school email or an address that
includes your name).

Do not use emoticons.

Do not attach anything to your e-mail. If you want to provide additional content send the URL.

Don't spend time tooting your horn. Don't tell the professor how smart or hard-working you
are. All graduate students are smart and hard-working. Dont send an email to sell yourself. v

Don't send an e-mail more than a few lines long. Some say no longer than screen-full. I say
no longer than a paragraph.

Don't send information about your GRE scores, GPA, etc. The purpose of the e-mail is to ask
for information about professors research or the program. It is not time to sell yourself.

Err on the side of formality. Address the professor formally. In other words address first
faculty members as Professor or Dr. rather than by their first name (and never by Miss, Ms., Mrs., or
Mr.).

Make your subject line useful. It should convey the subject of the message.

Spell the professors name right.

Never send spam e-mail to long lists of professors. Any message that you send should be
tailored to the professor in question.

Ten Graduate Application Tips


By Imteaz Bhuiyan on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 7:42am

(Originally compiled by Imteaz Ferdoush, University of Regina)


This document is written for Prospective Bangladeshi Students in Canadian Universities (PBSCU)
Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BSAAC/). Anybody wishes to use the document must refer
the original writers name and also the name of the group.

Ten application tips


by Matthew Might from http://matt.might.net/articles/
1. Contact a faculty member you'd like to work with. Email them a month or so before you
apply. [Please read my guidelines on how to send email.] Tell them you were considering
applying, and you're curious about the research opportunities available in the field. Comment
intelligently on some research that faculty member has done. Attach any research you've
done, and briefly summarize your research interests. That faculty member can then make
sure your application receives a thorough review. Bear in mind that professors receive lots of
form-letter spam from prospective students. It's painfully obvious when the email is formletter spam, and most professors will summarily discard it.
Send a short follow-up email in December/January so they remember to tell the admissions
committee to watch for you!
2. Be brief. Even "lowly ranked" schools will receive hundreds or even thousands of
applications for a few dozen slots. Most applications are skimmed first, and read only if
something catches the reviewer's eye.Bold-facing items can help catch a reviewer's
attention. There simply isn't time to read long-winded applications.

Short bullet points

Make it easy to digest

Your application
[But, please, make your bullet points grammatically parallel.]

3. Choose your area of interest/preferred faculty carefully.Applications are reviewed by the


faculty in the area for which the prospective student states an interest. If you choose this
poorly, the right person will not see your application. Reviewers also get annoyed when there

is a mismatch between area preference and faculty preference. At least skim the home
pages of every faculty member. It's also a good idea to look for faculty with an active
research program and current Ph.D. students. Faculty without funding can't easily admit
students. New/pre-tenure professors are especially eager to find good graduate students,
and sometimes they have start-up funding to use until they get a grant.
4. Be different. Don't talk about how you've been interested in the field ever since you were a
child and that you wrote your first program/proved your first theorem at age eight. The
admissions committee already knows that it's been your lifelong dream to become a scientist.
(That's why you're applying.) Many personal statements start off this with this standard backstory, and it's a waste of space.
5. Use quotes carefully. A lot of personal statements start off with a quote. If you use a quote,
make sure it's witty, relevant and one that the reviewer has never seen.
Do not misquote or misattribute a quote. (Also, Benjamin Franklin was not a U.S. president.)
Definitely do not misunderstand a quote and weave that misunderstanding into a narrative
about why you want to go to grad school.
6. Put up a personal/research home page. Make it professional. Highlight any interesting
projects you've worked on there. Remove all references to your political and/or religious
preferences. (Clean up your Facebook/twitter profile, too.)
7. Proof-read your documents. This should go without saying, but having typos in your
statements looks sloppy. If you're not a native English speaker, have a native English
speaker proof-read your materials.
8. Make your application look good. I know this shouldn't matter, but I find myself putting
more effort into well-typeset applications. I notice when applications use LaTeX (and use it
well), too. Palatino,Computer Modern and Times New Roman are good fonts for applications.
9. Choose your recommenders carefully. Cultivate working relationships with your
recommenders. This is the only way to get convincing recommendations out of them. (If you
tell a professor you're interested in research after class one day, they'll have you helping out
on a research project by that evening. Professors are always short on research manpower.
Trust me.)
10. Don't get a job. Once you get accustomed to a real salary and you start putting down roots,
it's going to be difficult to go back to being a student. You'll be living in a small apartment,
working on demanding problems all day long and getting paid a subsistence wage to do so.
This will be your life for four to seven years. The least inconvenient time to do this sort of
thing is right after undergraduate school. I often tell undergrads pondering a Ph.D., "You're
only dumb enough to get a Ph.D. once, so you'd better not let the moment pass you by."

First E-mail Template


By Samiul Alam Anik on Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 7:30pm

Dear Professor
I am interested in HCI. Do you have any graduate research position available for the fall of 2013?
I have read your papers on XYZ, ABC and found them very interesting. (Add some suggestions
from the future works of those papers)

Research Experience:

Increase in speech fluency of the Autistic Children:


Initially we did a three month observation over the autistic children of Autism Welfare
Foundation(AWF), Dhaka. There we found that traditional method for speech fluency was not much
successful. After Observation we developed a computer game using Java swing component and
MySql Database. Our game produced encouraging results over a participant during three months of
observation.

Clustering-Based Ensemble Classication Model for Block Learning:


In this project, we considered a real life scenario where data is available in blocks over the period of
time. We had developed a dynamic cluster based ensemble of classifiers for the problem. We had
applied clustering algorithm on the block of data available at that time and have trained a neural
network for each of the clusters. The performance of the proposed dynamic system was tested
against static system using extensive experiment.

Publications:
A Computer Game based Approach for Increasing Fluency in the Speech of the Autistic Children, in
the proceedings of The IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT),
Athens, Georgia, USA, July 2011, IEEE Computer Society Press

A Novel Clustering-Based Ensemble Classification Model for Block Learning in the proceedings of
The 2nd International Conference on Pattern Recognition Applications and Methods (ICPRAM

2013), Barcelona, Spain, 15 - 18 February 2013.(to appear)


Short Curriculum Vitae:
Name: Samiul Alam Anik
Undergraduate Degree: BSc in Computer Science and Engineering (Majored in Artificial
Intelligence) (Graduated in February, 2011)
University: Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
CGPA: 3.54 out of 4.00
Class Position: 48 out of 138 students
Curriculum Vitae and Scanned Copy of Transcripts are attached.