- 1374 小时
I know how interested some students are in coming to the USA for a higher |
degree. I have written this as a useful guide for you. I have also written
this to let prospective international students try and focus their own
efforts properly, instead of wasting their energy sending me emails. Here
are two sample letters.
A sample letter that will never get the candidate an assistantship with me:
I am very interested in going to the US for higher studies. I am seeking
admission and financial assistance in your esteemed University. I am very
interested in artificial intelligence and computer architecture. I have
programming experience in C++, C and Java. I am also familiar with several
software packages in the Windows environment (MS Word, Excel Spreadsheet
etc.). I also have networking certification from NOVELL. My GRE score is
2050, and I got 99 percentile in the TOEFL exam.
I request you to spare a few moments from your precious time to go through
my attached resume.
Sir - if you are kind enough to offer me assistantship, I promise to work
very hard for you. I have a very good academic record since primary school.
Alternately, can you tell me what are my chances of getting assistantship
from your department?
Can you kindly inform me about the last dates for Summer term 2002 before
which I can apply?
Thank you for your valuable time,
My comments: I simply delete these emails, which I consider garbage. The
person seems to be too obsequious and flattering. In the emails that I do
read (occasionally), I do a first scan for keywords like "precious",
"respected" etc. deleting the email if I find one. Obviously the person is
not professional enough. The person is interested in artificial
intelligence and computer architecture - these are quite unrelated areas,
making me think that he is trying to cover as many professors as possible
to get aid from any possible source. Besides, he does not have anything in
support of his claim (about his interest in artificial intelligence). He
emphasizes on his software skills, making me think that his goal is to get
a programming job in the US and higher studies is only to allow him access
to the US job market. His GRE scores are OK, but not exceptional. He asks
me to tell him what his chances of getting an assistantship are, elsewhere
in the department. I have absolutely no way of finding that out, and even
if I knew, I would not bother to reply back. He also asks me to give him
information about summer deadlines. How am I supposed to know that? (I
would typically expect that this information should be available from the
University web site, or from the grad school, but my guess is as good as
yours.) Finally, this letter is too generic. He probably uses exactly the
same format for hundreds of email letters to various professors throughout
the country, leaving no stone uncovered. I receive hundreds of email like
this. Regretfully, I cannot answer everyone, and these applications do not
interest me at all.
I have even received emails from students asking me to evaluate their
chances of getting admission, based on their GRE scores, TOEFL scores and
GPA. Here is an example:
Highly undesirable email
I am applying to a few US Universities for higher studies, including your
I am a fourth year electronics engineering student at XYZ University,
India. My undergraduate GPA is 3.2/4.0. I obtained 2000 in my GRE
examination (V: 500, Q: 800, A: 700), and 456 in the TOEFL.
Can you spare some valuable time to assist me in determining what my
chances are for assistantship in your department and in other Universities?
I will appreciate any help from you.
My comments: This letter is at least as bad as the previous one. It too
looks excessively obsequious and unprofessional with words like 'respected'
and 'esteemed'. I will not respond to queries like this, even if I could
possibly "detemine their chances". As I mentioned earlier, my mailbox gets
flooded with these queries such as this each week, and I have no time to
respond. But more significantly, I do not have the slightest way of knowing
this, not even in KSU EECE department, leave aside other Universities. You
are much better positioned to do that, based on your own peers'
experiences. Take an example, how much information can you, as a student,
give me about the criterion for promotion from associate professor to full
professor in your University? Likewise, I have no idea what policies
graduate schools in the US follow to admit/denying admission to prospective
students. I barely know the format of the GRE exam, leave aside TOEFL. I do
not have the slightest idea how to distinguish between a 'good' TOEFL score
and a 'bad' one. Besides, I know that most Indian Universities do not
follow a GPA system. His "GPA" is most likely inaccurate, obtained by
applying some arbitrary conversion formula devised largely to scale up the
overall percentage score. Use GPA to fill in the official admission form,
if you please, since there is no space for marks, but do not give that
information to me unless your University actually follows a 4 point GPA
system. (Unfortunately, I cannot distinguish a good percentage score from
an average one either.)
I have even received letters with personal items unrelated to the
profession - something which I consider to be highly negative (examples -
"I looked at your family pictures in your homepage", or "I am from the same
part of the country as you are" etc.).
Now, here is a letter that would DEFINITELY attract my attention:
Dear Prof. Das,
I am applying to KSU (amongst other places) for a Ph.D., and I am very
interested in your research areas. I would like to explore the possibility
of doing my research with you, with financial support.
One possible area that would interest me a lot is in applying Tikhonov
regularization to your problem in computational neuroscience, since I
understand that neural data can be very noisy, and yet sparse. Alternately,
I am also interested in applying evolutionary algorithms to your genetic
neural network parameter estimation. One of my other interests in in
parallel processing. Are you considering parallel implementations for any
of your optimization/estimation algorithms? Considering that the projects
that you list in your web site would probably be very computationally
intensive, that may be a worthwhile strategy to pursue.
I presented a paper entitled "Hybrid Gradient Descent Based Training of
Probabilistic Recurrent Networks" in the International Conference on Neural
Networks and Image Processing, Bangalore, last year. It is a reviewed
publication. If have attached a copy of the article in pdf format.
If you have available funds, and are interested in my application please
let me know soon.
My comments: This is a straightforward letter from someone with a genuine
interest in my area. He is an exceptional candidate. He has evinced a keen
desire to learn, and already has considerable mastery over my area of
research. If I have any funding available, I would definitely try my very
BEST to get this person. This person may have an MS degree, while many
applicants have only a BS degree.