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I recently was rejected from a high-ranked university's graduate program, even though I talked with a professor and satisfied all their criteria (actually very above the minimum).

How can we find a professor who can help us through this? Is it their citation or awards that make them influential? Or it is their years of teaching there? I think the citation and award play more important roles. (If yes, what should be their number of citations?) This university accepts only a few and they support them financially for all their years. Professors are partially sponsored. TA after one year. I feel that the background also impacts the decision (like the name of the previous university). I did very good (based on all the opinions) but did not study in the West.

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    How admissions are handled varies quite a bit across the world. Highly ranked programs tend to have many more qualified applicants than available places.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 23 at 16:13
  • I know but what if a professor defends?
    – user187068
    Apr 23 at 16:24
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    The decisions have been made. Changing the decisions is not going to happen, whether from the inside or the outside. But most certainly an outside professor trying to influence the process will not be welcome at all.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 23 at 16:28
  • The professor was and is on the committee and I can say a long years of teaching there. Anyway, I don't want to change the decision and I have no power to do so. It was interesting for me that they said my documents were fine and the reason was just the competitiveness of the pool. So I checked the student's profiles and all of them were from good universities in the country
    – user187068
    Apr 23 at 16:30
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    Your friends and you are trying to decide where to go out to eat tonight. Presumably some of you have good reasons for going to one place rather than another, just as professors also have good reasons for deciding whom to admit. Is there some metric that determines who gets to make the decision? Why should the two processes be fundamentally different? Apr 23 at 23:22

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If there are 10 slots and 10 people ranked more highly than you by the admissions committee accept offers, you won't be given one, because they're full. "Satisfied criteria above the minimum" is not how admissions works, you have to be one of the "N" best applicants.

In programs I'm familiar with, professors who have money to spend have somewhat more influence because if they say "I have grant money to fund an offer to an 11th person" then they can, as long as that person is qualified.

"Fit" is also critically important; top "N" doesn't necessarily mean there is some objective ranking that is aimed for. If a program gets a lot of applicants interested in underwater basket weaving and no underwater basket weaving professors are taking students, those applicants aren't a good Fit whatever their application strengths are. So, if a professor is taking students and is interested in applicants that would work with them and the admissions committee knows it, that has influence.

Otherwise, everyone on the admissions committee has a "vote" and each will argue for who exactly they think is in the top N. Most applicants are not controversial, they're either clearly one of the best or clearly not close. The arguments can be intense over who is number "N" and who is N+1.

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  • Thanks.The professor had grants.However, they said they advocated in the committee for me and another one,I think means they didn't insisted on me.They even told me they spoke with the director. By reading some views, I conclude that maybe they aren't influential as they should be according to their years of working there or some problems with students in past which I am not aware of them.I thought I would be in waiting list at least not rejected.They said no reason, all docs fine.But continuously repeat that the committee decided and just it's competitive.I think there must be sth
    – user187068
    Apr 23 at 17:21
  • Actually before applying he said that I cannot guarantee admission as committee votes
    – user187068
    Apr 23 at 17:32
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    @aghani_bayan From what you're saying it doesn't sound like they lack any influence, it sounds like you weren't the best candidate. That's okay, there are lots of great candidates for graduate programs, you should apply to more than one if you want to be admitted.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 23 at 17:34
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    @aghani_bayan If you weren't admitted then yes other students were admitted over you.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 23 at 18:24
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    Just one point of clarification -- depending on the institution, if you have a central admissions committee that admits for the school, then the PIs may actually not get as many students as they want. If the committee says we admit 80 students this year and 30 PIs want 2 students and 40 PIs want 1 student, then not everyone will get a student. The R1 I work at has administrators who assess their ability to support students, e.g., with funding for the guaranteed 5 years. There are other factors too, e.g., if the PI is having other problems. But again, it's going to vary for every institution. Apr 24 at 1:18
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You appear to have a fixation that seniority or academic credentials supersede standards of departmental governance, the quality of the applicant pool, or even the mutual respect of faculty colleagues when discussing and ranking potential candidates.

You should be picking your potential advisor based on a myriad of other factors other than trying to game your way through the admissions committee.

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    @aghani_bayan then why are you so concerned about what professional metrics may translate to committee influence?
    – R1NaNo
    Apr 23 at 18:57
  • I just wondered that's all As many of my friend got accepted they were like I mean finding a professor and meeting. Even with lower gpa, language test ...
    – user187068
    Apr 23 at 19:01
  • You were talking about other factors can you tell me what are they? I am searching for profs who share interests, caring, supportive, and knowledgeable. So they are experienced and they can help you. I feel my question is repeated here many times in different ways.
    – user187068
    Apr 23 at 19:09
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    @aghani_bayan Well your main question, as you have phrased is asking for how you can find someone influential enough to push through your graduate application, and how you can specifically find out who those people are based on their credentials. Nothing to do about caring or research interest. It's like you are fishing for "celebrity" or "clout" to glean some influence. Don't....
    – R1NaNo
    Apr 24 at 16:20
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    @aghani_bayan Ironically, your highest likelihood of getting in not solely on your own merits but by the push of a faculty member is if you seek out to work for a young start-up professor. They are the ones who need the most people, and when we are on admissions committee, we tend to give the most leeway to borderline candidates for those young faculty, because they need to get their research program going. Well-known productive faculty always have interested students and they don't need much support.
    – R1NaNo
    Apr 24 at 16:22

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