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Would you have an advantage when applying for some graduate school if you write in your forms that you own some useful equipment already from your independent research and you would offer free time to the institute to use it or for undergraduate teaching purposes. Something in the price range of 90'000$, like a bioluminescence microscope or a large telescope?

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That might certainly catch my eye if I read your application, but I'm not sure how much weight it would carry. I would be a bit nervous offering it quid pro quo - that seems to get into a dangerous or at least gray area in the vicinity of a bribe for admission.

My suggestion, if you include such information, would be to limit your disclosure to a demonstration of your commitment to the topic of interest, or to talk about ways you have already used the equipment for outreach purposes to demonstrate your value to the community as an emerging scholar - and not as a condition on accepting your application.

The problem is the perception, and whether you offer it directly or not you could be perceived as trying to sway the admissions committee. For example, a police officer has some leeway in choosing whether to cite you or not; offering the officer $100 is going to get you in trouble, whether you say "I will give you $100 if you let me go" or if you say "Hey I just wanted to let you know how much I care about police officers in general, so I am going to put this $100 on your car, you can take it if you want."

Your situation is different because the legality is much less clear than the example I just gave, but I would be uncomfortable accepting a student who wouldn't normally meet the expectations of the university because they were offering the use of some equipment.

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  • No, of course not a hard condition, but in the sense of a significant advantage, like that you'd certainly be on the pile of applicants that most likely make it to the final round and interviews. Also in combination with what you've already achieved with it on the basis of your enthusiastic autodidactic learning. – Lucas Nov 4 '16 at 17:21
  • I amended my answer to respond to your comment; I would reiterate that using your personal ownership of some equipment to demonstrate your enthusiastic autodidactic learning ability is certainly fine, though I wouldn't personally weight it above having equal experience with similar equipment owned by anyone else. – Bryan Krause Nov 4 '16 at 17:32
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Smacks of bribery. I would avoid any quid pro quo. If you get in, you should owe your department your best efforts, and nothing else, and they owe you an opportunity for an education.

Mention in your statement the kind of research that you do and the types of experience that you have, because that's relevant to your package. Do not mention that you will make the equipment available to them, because that would not be appropriate.

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