Grad School Advice: The Counsel of Elders

"Yes...I know much about this 'computer science' of which you speak."

A couple weeks ago, I finally (finally!) got around to emailing one of my former computer science professors for a letter of recommendation.  Part of the reason I put it off for so long was that I didn’t (and still don’t) know exactly what programs I was applying to.  I felt kind of embarrassed about my apparent lack of direction, but since it was already the end of October, I figured I’d better touch base with him, at the very least to reconnect and remind him of my existence.

As I was writing my email, trying to figure out how to phrase my questions so that it wasn’t obvious I had no idea what I wanted, I realized I was being ridiculous — I should just ask my professor for his advice!  It seemed so obvious that I was kind of mad I didn’t do it sooner.  But better late than never, I suppose.

My professor ended up doing more than just responding to my questions — he forwarded my questions to a couple contacts at other universities, other professors who could directly answer my questions about their specific programs and industries.  As a result, I now have a running dialogue with a few different people who know a great deal about the various programs in which I have an interest and can answer and address my specific questions and concerns.  One of the other professors even put me in contact with one of his current graduate students who went to the same undergraduate university as I did.

It’s only been six months since I left college, but it seems that I’ve already forgot one of the primary tenets of the university experience — that professors are an invaluable resource for…well, everything.  Even if your diploma is a little dustier than mine is, this tenet still applies.  After all, who would know more about what’s out in that jungle than the very people who live in it?

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