Leverage professor for WL movement?

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Anonymous User
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Leverage professor for WL movement?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Apr 20, 2020 12:27 pm

*This should be in the WL or admissions forum, but I cannot seem to post anon there. Anon because you could easily back into this from my post history.

I'm currently waitlisted at my top/only choice T14 and am below both medians. My level of correspondence with them through the process I think has been appropriate, but definitely starting to walk the line of a bit on the heavy side.

I work in a very niche area of the intelligence community and noticed that what appears to be a fairly prominent professor has been studying this area extensively for the past ten years or so and recently led a large conference discussing it. The field isn't quite astronaut rare, but while the school may occasionally enroll students from the employer, its possible this professor would have never run into a potential student in the niche area. They have also only studied this area while I have been employed directly in it.

I'm considering reaching out to the professor in hope that they might be interested enough to send a good word to the admissions team. The issue is that this niche area can be viewed as fairly controversial, especially out of context. The agency is already on my resume, but this area is not. My concern is that any boost I might gain by a potential push from them could be outweighed by a potential stigma associated with this role. Not a perfect analogy, but maybe for the discussion think something like drones (but rarer, and more interesting). The professor might want to talk to me all day, but the adcoms might negatively view someone associated with them.

The question: is it common for professors to go to bat for potential students and how much pull would they have? Do you think that a professor's pull would outweigh any negative connotations the adcoms might have with topic?

Note that my specific function is not classified and I would not be looking to discuss anything classified with the professor (obviously).

nixy

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Re: Leverage professor for WL movement?

Post by nixy » Mon Apr 20, 2020 12:40 pm

I don’t think that reaching out to the professor now is going to help you. If you had a relationship with them before you applied, that would be one thing. Or even if you had talked to them before you applied, in the context of “I’m thinking about applying to your school and wondered if you had time to talk to me about (special area) and legal practice;” then a prof might take an interest. But even if the prof would be interested in talking to you, in a vacuum, because of what you do, as soon as it’s clear you’re an applicant trying to get off the waitlist, you reaching out is going to look entirely like an attempt to manipulate the process. (Profs have a pretty attuned radar for this kind of thing.) After all, if the prof had been part of your interest in the school, wouldn’t you have already reached out?

Tl;dr - this is tipping over the line into the heavy side.

Anonymous User
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Re: Leverage professor for WL movement?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:00 pm

nixy wrote:I don’t think that reaching out to the professor now is going to help you. If you had a relationship with them before you applied, that would be one thing. Or even if you had talked to them before you applied, in the context of “I’m thinking about applying to your school and wondered if you had time to talk to me about (special area) and legal practice;” then a prof might take an interest. But even if the prof would be interested in talking to you, in a vacuum, because of what you do, as soon as it’s clear you’re an applicant trying to get off the waitlist, you reaching out is going to look entirely like an attempt to manipulate the process. (Profs have a pretty attuned radar for this kind of thing.) After all, if the prof had been part of your interest in the school, wouldn’t you have already reached out?

Tl;dr - this is tipping over the line into the heavy side.
Thanks for the feedback and you're probably right. I think I am just struggling with the fact that there's not much I can do here but wait. I definitely wish I had stumbled onto this professor earlier in the cycle though - I am pretty confident they will want to connect, but I suppose if I get in I can reach out.

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