I have applied to graduate school (EE) and am currently at one of the schools to which I applied to. Is it a bad move if I go to a professor's office and express my interest to work with her, and show her my relevant skills?

Why I think this is a good idea:

I am an engineering physics major applying to electrical engineering. I applied to the niche areas of EE that are a good fit coming from applied physics (electromagnetics and solid state devices), but regardless, coming from outside of EE will give a bad impression to the admissions committee. So I want to do whatever possible to show that I'm qualified.

Moreover, the professor I'm interested in works on computational electromagnetics, and if I can show her that I have the required preparation, maybe she'll be more willing to look into my application through the graduate application system.

So what do you guys think? Thanks.

  • 1
    Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I got my current job by being inquisitive and interested in learning more about the project prior to being offered an interview.
    – Eppicurt
    Dec 19, 2017 at 3:52

2 Answers 2


It sounds like an excellent idea. I like to meet with prospective students, especially ones from atypical backgrounds; a meeting gives both applicant and faculty a chance to gauge whether someone will be a good fit for the program.

However, don't get too pushy. Keep the conversation casual, and don't put on an elaborate show of your knowledge. The best approach may be to ask about the professor's research, and express how it tied into what you already learned and found interesting, as well as what you are interested in studying further in the future.

  • 1
    Do you think I should send an email before? I don't want to do this and instead just knock on her door because in my experience professors are pretty careless with email and take a lot of time to reply, if at all.
    – DLV
    Dec 19, 2017 at 4:10
  • 6
    Absolutely send an email first.
    – Eppicurt
    Dec 19, 2017 at 4:15
  • 1
    @DavidV Yes, send an email first. I meant to say that as well.
    – Buzz
    Dec 19, 2017 at 4:20

Is it a bad move if I go to a professor's office and express my interest to work with her, and show her my relevant skills?

Depending on how the department works, it could be a very good thing or it could be irrelevant. It seems very unlikely to hurt. Some departments allocate graduate students to a given professor (or more accurately the funding) and some professors have funding for a graduate student. These professors can influence the admission of a graduate student beyond what the admissions committee is looking for. If I am looking for a graduate student, and the student seems remotely qualified, I would love to meet them prior to the admissions decisions. If the student makes a good impression, I can then lobby that the student get invited for an interview. If I am not looking for a graduate student, then it is a waste of my time to meet with a prospective student.

It would be much better if you sent an email with your CV prior to stopping by than to just show up unannounced. If you just knock on my door, I am likely to not want to meet with you and without me doing any prep work, the meeting will not be as productive.

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