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Hoping someone can shed some light, or at least quell my worrying. Probably the latter. Anyways I emailed a professor with just an introductory email, I had read some of his work and would like to speak about my opportunities at the university if he had the time. He replied the next morning simply asking me to send my undergraduate transcript. I send it off and a week later I get this:

I think your background and qualifications are interesting, and I would strongly encourage you to consider applying to our graduate program. If you have the opportunity, I would also suggest that you physically visit us at XXXX before applying to see whether we have what you are hoping for.

Do let me know if you have questions.

I guess it sounds encouraging, but my fear is it may just be him being kind. My question is if I should continue to pursue other potential advisors at this school? Thanks for any light you can shed on the subject.

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    Encourage you to apply in a graduate program of his department is not the same as agreeing to be your advisor, since a) you might not make it (get accepted) to the graduate program b) he might choose other students over you. – Alexandros Apr 21 '16 at 19:48
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It doesn't sound like he is just being kind. Using the wording "strongly encourage" is a good sign. Many US universities do not let individual professors have much of a say in a admissions and his response may be a reflection of that.

Furthermore, many professors are not willing to commit to advising any students before they have been accepted. It sounds like this professor wants you to apply and would be open to talking more if you are accepted (or are visiting).

You can continue to look for advisers, but I'd imagine most of them will say the same thing. It's never a bad idea to see what else is out there, but it's hard for many professors to say much this early in the process.

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    Good analysis. Note that written materials only reflect part of the student's personality, most advisors will want to get a more direct impression of the student. – Captain Emacs Apr 21 '16 at 20:04
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This relates to a whole bunch of other questions about whether you should stop searching for jobs after you get an informal offer, etc. In the end, the top answer is always the same. If it's a good opportunity, good job! But, keep all of your other options open until it's formalized.

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