I am a graduate student at a well ranked US institution A, and my undergraduate was from a very low ranked and small institution B in another country. Sometimes students from institution B (encouraged by my previous advisor there) ask me for the documents I used to get admitted to A. This includes my CV, motivation letter, and even the emails I sent my current advisor at A to contact their for the first time.

I don't feel like sharing my CV is a big issue, but I feel uncomfortable with things like my motivation letter and first-contact email with my current advisor. This is because:

  1. I invested a lot of hard work and time in these (probably months and several rejections until gaining some experience).
  2. I want to help them so I offered to give them feedback on their documents, but they insist on having mine to see how I did it (and because my previous advisor at B tells them to do so).
  3. I am afraid that I could get involved in some problem, most of them plan to apply to my same program (somehow small) and even contact my current advisor.

Should I just share these documents? Maybe I am overthinking something small, but it does not feel completely fine.

2 Answers 2


Actually, I think you are doing the right thing. Your point 2) especially - offering advice and feedback. And if someone else copies your SoP and such and it is noticed, then it will be bad for them anyway.

But answer requests as we do here, with general advice. Even better share that advice with an old undergraduate advisor who can pass it on without bothering you much.

They are asking for something that isn't their due, actually.

  • 2
    I would also add that the OP should talk with their advisor and/or department chair to see how they feel about it. I'm sure nobody wants to see copies, but showing what good application materials look like might be fine (and might not). It is 'easy' to see what good journal articles look like - you read journals. Much harder to recognize how much work goes into an application if one has never seen one.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 21:18

Give them a general advice and explain a general procedure but do not share your personal things like CV, e-mails, correspondence etc.

You have invested a lot of hard work and time in these and your experience could be valuable for many but it should not harm you in any way so just guide them in general terms but not very specific.

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