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So a professor agree to accept me to his lab. I guess that I should write this down on my SOP to increase my chance. The question is: should I use what he said as a material to write in my SOP?

Below is my draft:

I have contacted him, and within an hour I got his reply: “You would be a terrific addition to our group!”. He said that I'm “correct that more insight is needed on the relation between A and B”. The lab is currently working to formulate a C theory. He sent me a paper he wrote with his student, XYZ, to illustrate one of the approaches. I have suggested some ways to expand the work during my discussions with the professor.

One feedback for this:

Very awkward. I'd delete. At the very least rephrase. It feels like a brain dump. He already knows you'd a be a great addition, no need to state it here...It's also a bit presumptuous to me that you're so comfortable critique a professor and such. Could be another bias of mine?

I'm speechless. This is the only paragraph that will make me stand out from the others, yet it is presumptuous? Is this the culture problem or is it just me? I can't see why this is presumptuous.

  • 1
    This sounds like very positive feedback, but based only on what you share with us here, do note that it is not perfectly clear that the professor has accepted you to his lab. You would make a terrific addition can be read in all kind of ways (e.g. "if you make it through the general application process, we should talk"). People in an Anglo-Saxon culture tend to have a very enthusiastic (often euphemistic) way of talking. – gnometorule Oct 27 '15 at 15:59
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Yes, you should delete that. It doesn't add value. You should mention that you were accepted and what you plan to do, but there is no need to include the following smalltalk. Getting the Prof to say "You would be a terrific addition to our group!" is politeness not an achievement in itself. An achievement would be if he said that after you worked there for a month.

Also, I don't think that is the only thing that makes you stand out. The Prof surely has reasons why he accepted you, he doesn't accept at random. Maybe you could ask him what led to that decision.

How is the following:

Professor X wholeheartedly accepted me to work on the relation between 
A and B, which will help to formulate C theory. I very much look forward
to work on this topic because ...
  • I can accept that I should delete that (that's why I ask this question). But I don't understand why this is bad. After all, what I mention is just the fact, and why do the fact itself can be presumptuous? – Ooker Oct 27 '15 at 12:45
  • @iayork can I still use the latter saying in my SOP, with a change? It will be "He said that it’s “correct that more insight is needed on the relation between thermodynamic and information-theoretic entropy”." – Ooker Oct 28 '15 at 7:26
  • @Ooker Did you ask your Prof. why he accepted you? Because it feels to me, that you don't know what to write in your SOP. In that case you should stop worrying about this point and start collecting strengths of yours until you have something to write. You definitely have more to show than you currently think and you need to find out what this is. Otherwise you will be rejected by the University. – icehawk Oct 29 '15 at 13:15
  • isn't the second quote his reason to accept me? (I'm the one who propose that direction). @iayork I'm not arguing. You said that the first quote is bad, because people can endorse me. I accept. However the second one is not an endorsement, so I want to make clear that if it's still bad or not. Here is my full draft, if you are interested. – Ooker Oct 29 '15 at 14:23
  • @Ooker no, not alone. It is expected that you have your own ideas. Btw your draft has significant room for improvement. I can give you some hints but not in the comments. – icehawk Oct 30 '15 at 15:24

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