I'm a 2nd year student writing a request to volunteer as a research assistant to a professor. From what I've read, attaching a transcript to the introductory email is a good idea. [1][2]

I'm considering not including it as my 1st year marks were pretty terrible. My 2nd year went well, but I suspect my 1st year might give a bad impression and disqualify me for many professors.

In such a case, which (if any) are a good idea:

  1. Include the transcript, don't mention anything in the email
  2. Include the transcript, explain reason for bad marks in the email.
  3. Don't include the transcript. Mention good GPA received this semester.
  4. Don't mention the transcript.
  • 5
    Maybe its different at your school, but I just walked up to the professors and asked them what kind of undergraduate projects were open. If you can do it in person, it makes it harder for them to say no and also shows how serious you are. – Neo Jul 3 '14 at 22:09
  • I would just like to point out this question is not exclusively applicable to undergrads. – ff524 Jul 4 '14 at 8:00
  • @Neo Sorry for the late response. That's the plan this fall semester. I'm trying for what remains of the summer as well, where the professors don't seem to ever be in their offices. – Andrei Khramtsov Jul 7 '14 at 14:31

There are two reasons I want to see a transcript when I take on research assistants:

  1. I want to know what relevant classes they have taken, and how they did in those classes. This (hopefully) tells me something about what kind of basic knowledge I can expect them to have in my subject area, which in turn helps me evaluate whether I have a project that is well-suited for them.
  2. I don't want to hire a student that is struggling with their coursework, because a research position is very demanding in terms of time and attention. A student who is currently barely passing classes should be focusing on that, not taking on a new major responsibilities. (My university has a minimum GPA requirement for student research assistants for this reason.)

Definitely include your transcript with your email. Don't explain the reason for the bad grades straight off - why draw attention to the negative? But ideally, you should be able to say something like "I took 'Highly Relevant Course' this spring and it made me really interested in pursuing research in this area", where 'Highly Relevant Course' is something you've done well in, that is directly related to the professor's research. The idea is to show that you have basic knowledge in the relevant area, and you're also not currently struggling to pass your courses.


I'd say a mixture of points 2 and 3. It's always good to be honest with your colleagues and especially a potential supervisor. We've all messed up some grades along the line.

If you include the transcript, mention your relatively good GPA this semester and outline very briefly the reasons how you've improved dramatically compared to last semester I think you'll sound professional as well as eager. Professor's love students who surprise them with their performance and growth, so play up your adaptability, resourcefulness and hunger for results.

Also as a previous commenter said, send the email and then seek them out in person, put a face to the name and start a good impression from the outset.

  • Definitely a good idea to do both. Will try. Thank you. – Andrei Khramtsov Jul 7 '14 at 14:33

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