-2

What errors do applicants make in their CV while applying to US graduate programs, apart from obvious errors like spelling, grammar, formatting etc.?

1
  • Welcome to Academia.SE! On this forum we discourage "list" questions such as this one. Check out help center site to see what we tend to look for... we want questions to be more directly answerable, rather than just lists of information.
    – eykanal
    Nov 9, 2018 at 19:00

1 Answer 1

1

Here are some that I encounter

  1. Listing all of your achievements, rather than your notable ones. No one cares that you got 3rd place in a high-school biology competition. List things that are truly outstanding, not minor stuff.
  2. Not selecting referees carefully - make sure that the reference letter writers you pick actually like you and would write positive letters. In particular, many universities would largely disregard reference letters from lecturers you took a class with. Unless there was some special relationship (a joint project, a really outstanding performance in class), the letter amounts to 'this student attended my class, and got a good grade'; this is information that I can get reading your transcript.
  3. Writing unqualified achievements. I'm not talking about outright lying (obviously don't), but more things like "talented writer". Ok, you're a talented writer - how about some evidence to back it up? Did you win any competitions? Did your work get published anywhere?
  4. CV sections not ordered according to importance: when someone reads your CV, they're probably reading at least 50 more that day. I don't need to wade through unimportant information (languages you speak comes to mind) before I get to what I want to know. Think - what would make a person pick me out of the bunch? Write that first.
4
  • 2
    In particular, many universities would largely disregard reference letters from lecturers you took a class with. --- This part seems extremely strange to me (the rest of what you said seems fine), but maybe by "lecturer" you specifically mean a very low-level teacher (e.g. graduate T.A., post-doc, visiting faculty, etc.) rather than a tenure-track or tenured faculty member. Maybe this is also somewhat field-dependent, since in mathematics (especially pure mathematics) a candidate's teachers are pretty much the only people who could write such letters. Nov 9, 2018 at 7:36
  • While I certainly can't attest to what happens in other disciplines (or in other departments!), this is certainly true from what I encountered, and from speaking to colleagues in my field. I can also say this from the pool of letters I had to read. Generally letters from lecturers who don't know the student tend to be generic and uninformative.
    – Spark
    Nov 10, 2018 at 16:40
  • letters from lecturers who don't know the student --- I don't think anyone would disagree with this, but you did not originally have "who don't know the student". For what it's worth, I don't recall anyone during my undergraduate or graduate years using anyone except a course teacher for a reference, but this was before REU summer research and other opportunities (such as this) were generally available in math. (BTW, I originally upvoted your answer.) Nov 10, 2018 at 19:09
  • 1
    (BTW, I originally upvoted your answer.) --- Looking at this the next day, it seems to suggest that I upvoted your answer and then canceled my upvote at a later time. What I meant is that when I originally read your answer, I upvoted it because, as I said in my first comment, "the rest of what you said seems fine" (and I have not canceled my upvote). Nov 11, 2018 at 10:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .