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Don't be deceptive

Several students have applied to us, saying that they want to do area X, to which not so many students apply. On arrival, they immediately switch to Y, which is a more popular topic. That annoys us. Ask yourself, is annoying us like this a good strategy?

Grad student(s) wanted

Grad students interested in pursuing PhDs that advance my research agenda are wanted. If you prove yourself, a research assistantship may be available.

New, 2/29/12: I review many applications hoping to find a student who will advance my research program. The odds are small. Therefore, if you are such a person please apply.

My initial cull is to read the first 2 paragraphs of the applicant's background statement, looking for interests that overlap mine. 95% of the time, I stop there and move on to the next application. So, do not waste space by saying that you have liked computers since primary school; state your specific interests and maybe mention me. Thanks.

  1. Thank you for your interest in postgraduate studies at RPI. Because of the volume of inquiries, I have prepared a form letter answering the most common questions, and saying whom to ask for more info.
  2. We always welcome good students. Whether or not support is available, if interested, you should formally apply, mentioning that you need financial aid.
  3. RPI's Graduate Admissions Office can assist you with catalogs, application forms, etc. Our catalog is also online. Start at http://www.rpi.edu and browse. This is also the way to determine how to contact an admissions person in each department.
  4. Please be specific about what department(s) and program(s) you are applying to, using exactly the names in the catalog. Do not say 'computers'. Say something like the following, replacing the proper nouns as appropriate, "Applying to the 'Computer and Systems Engineering' curriculum, specifically the Computer Engineering program, in the subject of Tachyonic Engineering."
  5. In addition, mentioning particular professors' names, with whom you'd like to work, can't hurt.
  6. It is expected that a student intending to pursue postgrad studies in a subject will have an undergrad degree in that area. An applicant to Computer Engineering should have had several courses in each of HW and SW. That is, either a (HW-only) EE or a (SW-only) CS undergrad degree is not adequate preparation for a Computer and Systems Engineering masters degree. If you claim to be prepared for work in Tachyonic Engineering, you should have had courses in that, including building at least one working faster-than-light spaceship. Sending a form letter to professors in areas quite separate from your actual undergrad program is counterproductive. E.g., don't write me if you want to do robotics.
  7. My personal research interests, which include computational cartography, computer graphics, and geometry, and some recent papers, can be seen from my web page: http://wrfranklin.org/ If I had money, I would use it to support people whose previous choice of courses had demonstrated compatible interests to mine.
  8. If applying for a teaching assistantship it will help your application to mention why you might be qualified to do this, with evidence of your fluency in spoken English, beyond your TOEFL score. List some lower-level courses in our department that you would be competent to help in. Check the course catalog description or home page first, since courses with the same title may have vastly different contents at other universities. If you are offered, and accept a TA-ship, you are expected to treat it as a serious job. That includes not leaving early at the end of the semester.
  9. At RPI, PhD students are now expected eventually to be supported as RAs, even if the initial support was as a TA. Therefore, TAships are now generally awarded based on a professor's recommendation.
  10. What little financial aid that the department has, is completely distributed to applicants whose completed files, including test scores and recommendations, have been received by the official deadline.
  11. For further info:
    1. about ECSE, go here,
    2. about CS, go here.
    3. If you wish to ask me more questions, put READYOURNOTE at the start of your subject line.
  12. I get only one or two emails each year from applicants who have read the previous paragraph!
  13. When emailing, send plain ASCII text messages, not encoded with MIME, HTML, binhex, ISO8859 8-bit chars, uuencode, LaTeX, PostScript, Word, or anything else. Break your paragraphs up into lines. My experience is that the less computer-literate that someone is, the worse-formatted the email.
  14. Good luck with your career, either here at RPI or elsewhere. Intelligent, hard-working, people do tend to succeed.