A plea from admissionprof

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admissionprof
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A plea from admissionprof

Postby admissionprof » Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:44 pm

Hello. As most of you know, I'm chair of Graduate Admissions at a top 50 (but not top 20) university. Many institutions are now sending out acceptances, and many of you are getting good news. Skimming through the profiles (and no, I will NOT try to identify anyone--I would consider that inappropriate), one can see that many people have applied to a dozen or more institutions. I understand that and would do the same in your position.

But consider the following: if everyone gets accepted to, say, 5 places, then only 20% of the people we make offers to will accept. Of course, it could be 10%, and it could be 30%. Budgets are very tight this year, and many places will be in serious trouble if they go over their expectation. So many departments are being cautious. This means lots of people on the "waiting list". It also means that many will be accepted later than usual.

So please, please, please. If you are accepted to universities A and B, and you KNOW that you would prefer A to B, then please contact B and decline the offer. You don't have to wait until April, and you won't hurt anyone's feelings---but you will likely open up a spot for someone else, possibly someone who reads this website. Of course, often you don't know if you prefer A to B until you visit, in which case you should keep both offers open. But if you have gotten accepted to the graduate program at the University of Northern South Dakota, and you later hear from MIT, and you are certain that MIT is higher on your list than UNSD, just tell UNSD that you're declining. They can then perhaps make an offer to someone else. In fact, you can even withdraw your applications from places that you know are lower on your list from one you've been accepted to.

Best of luck to all of you!

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trani
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby trani » Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:00 am

I think that is completely legitimate plea, which is why I tried to contact one of the departments I applied to today asking what is the procedure for withdrawing my application. Unfortunately my inquiry hasn't been answered yet. Is there any standard procedure? (Note that I have not been accepted to that school yet, so I can't just use the decline form they send out)

MrKite
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby MrKite » Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:35 am

Will do (if Im so lucky to have such a choice!)

excel
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby excel » Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:48 am

trani wrote:I think that is completely legitimate plea, which is why I tried to contact one of the departments I applied to today asking what is the procedure for withdrawing my application. Unfortunately my inquiry hasn't been answered yet. Is there any standard procedure? (Note that I have not been accepted to that school yet, so I can't just use the decline form they send out)


Last year, I had simply emailed the admission directors to let them know that I am withdrawing my application so as to not create any unnecessary competition for students who may potentially want to enroll in those programs. That worked well enough: the admission directors basically replied back saying that they have taken note of my decision, and that was it.

evilclaw2321
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby evilclaw2321 » Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:51 am

I second this plea give us second tier waitlist type people the best chance we can get please.

cato88
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby cato88 » Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:55 am

I was planning on withdrawing as soon as I get into a school I want to go to more passionately. Not even going to wait for decision if I dont have to. Want to help out as quickly as possible. I still dont understand why people wait for all decisions to come in even if they get the admission they want most in early and why that isnt considered an extremely selfish act of ego stroking.

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dlenmn
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby dlenmn » Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:37 am

cato88 wrote:I still dont understand why people wait for all decisions to come in even if they get the admission they want most in early and why that isnt considered an extremely selfish act of ego stroking.


Well, perhaps they are simply greedy and want to go to as many visiting weekends as possible to maximize free food and drink intake. :twisted:

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Helio
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby Helio » Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:54 am

cato88 wrote: I still dont understand why people wait for all decisions to come in even if they get the admission they want most in early and why that isnt considered an extremely selfish act of ego stroking.


cause some schools take their merry time deciding (Stanford) or as dlenmn can tell you, some decide last minute

Just like we have a deadline to decide. Schools should have a uniform deadline and have to make up their mind by a certain date. It would just streamline this processes of waiting till kingdom come for acceptance

cato88
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby cato88 » Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:37 am

cato88 wrote:I was planning on withdrawing as soon as I get into a school I want to go to more passionately. Not even going to wait for decision if I dont have to. Want to help out as quickly as possible. I still dont understand why people wait for all decisions to come in even if they get the admission they want most in early and why that isnt considered an extremely selfish act of ego stroking.

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xudis149
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby xudis149 » Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:24 am

I really hope I get to be in such a situation where I have multiple choices. :)

If I make it to more desirable places.. Of course I will then withdraw from those places where I am not extremely keen

dsperka
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby dsperka » Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:56 pm

Is it ok to at least wait until you get some of the financial details??? I don't really want to go somewhere I've been accepted but what if they offer me an insane amount of money?

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zxcv
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby zxcv » Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:40 pm

dsperka wrote:Is it ok to at least wait until you get some of the financial details??? I don't really want to go somewhere I've been accepted but what if they offer me an insane amount of money?

Yes, of course. Wait until you have made up your mind with all information relevant to that decision - not before and not after.

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Helio
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby Helio » Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:48 pm

Somebody maybe make this a sticky, so it does not get lost over the next couple years

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noojens
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby noojens » Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:00 pm

Word. And as a side note, thanks to admissionprof for helping clarify some of the murky bits of the admissions process. Your posts have really been invaluable.

Cheers. :)

FNR
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby FNR » Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:10 am

admissionprof wrote: So please, please, please. If you are accepted to universities A and B, and you KNOW that you would prefer A to B, then please contact B and decline the offer. You don't have to wait until April, and you won't hurt anyone's feelings---but you will likely open up a spot for someone else, possibly someone who reads this website.



I do not know, admissionprof.... I am afraid that some grad schools tend to keep their decision until the Late March or Early April.... :( How could we decide to accept or reject then? :cry:

astroprof
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby astroprof » Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:22 pm

We are not asking you to make a rash decision. In all likelihood, you will hear from
different programs at different times, including some acceptances as late as April 15.
However, if you have been accepted by a program that you KNOW you prefer over
some others, it is very helpful to everyone if you decline or withdraw (whichever is
appropriate) from those other schools. This allows programs to offer more timely
admission to other students, and that allows those students to make their decisions
in a timely manner, etc. As admissionprof says, you will not hurt our feelings if
you decline (or withdraw) early. Rather, we will take it as an indication of
responsible professional behavior, and we will wish you best of luck at your
institution of choice.


Helio wrote:
Just like we have a deadline to decide. Schools should have a uniform deadline and have to make up their mind by a certain date. It would just streamline this processes of waiting till kingdom come for acceptance


While I understand your frustration, many schools have a rolling admissions process.
For example, we are aiming for a specific number of students (+/- 0, as we are
a small program), and cannot know in advance how many will accept/decline our
offers. In many cases, there are highly qualified applicants that we cannot make
offers to immediately because we do not have sufficient funding (TA/RA/Fellowships).
To force schools to a uniform deadline would prevent us from making offers to these
applicants once funding has been identified.

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Helio
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby Helio » Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:33 pm

astroprof wrote:
Helio wrote:
Just like we have a deadline to decide. Schools should have a uniform deadline and have to make up their mind by a certain date. It would just streamline this processes of waiting till kingdom come for acceptance


While I understand your frustration, many schools have a rolling admissions process.
For example, we are aiming for a specific number of students (+/- 0, as we are
a small program), and cannot know in advance how many will accept/decline our
offers. In many cases, there are highly qualified applicants that we cannot make
offers to immediately because we do not have sufficient funding (TA/RA/Fellowships).
To force schools to a uniform deadline would prevent us from making offers to these
applicants once funding has been identified.


Totally forgot about that part, but even with rolling admissions could not general dates be set for the individual rounds. Say:

Feb 5th: Round 1
Feb 20th: Round 2
Mar 1st: Round 3
etc. etc.?

It is just a thought. I don't understand how schools like Wisconsin can make up their mind in 30 days and Stanford needs over 2.5 months, when their applicant pool differs by about 50 people. Yes a week maybe two is fine, but not month that just seems like you are slowing it down on purpose

stardust
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby stardust » Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:59 am

As a student, there is a reason to wait until you get a decision from
all the schools you applied to. That reason is simply, what if you go to
your first choice school and you decide you absolutely hate it there for
whatever reason. Then you can say, well I got into these other schools
before. Maybe I can move to one of those programs.

pqortic
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby pqortic » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:48 am

stardust wrote:As a student, there is a reason to wait until you get a decision from
all the schools you applied to.

you mean after you chose MIT, hate it and want to go to UNSD. that rarely happen. :wink:
Last edited by pqortic on Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

cato88
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby cato88 » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:54 am

stardust wrote:As a student, there is a reason to wait until you get a decision from
all the schools you applied to. That reason is simply, what if you go to
your first choice school and you decide you absolutely hate it there for
whatever reason. Then you can say, well I got into these other schools
before. Maybe I can move to one of those programs.

But why do you need to wait for all your decisions, that still
doesnt justify waiting for all.
In that case one should really consider why a program that misses the mark
by that much is your first choice in the first place. I also dont think it is unreasonable
to say that you should not need to keep more than 3-4 schools in limbo. There
are people including in this forum who have applied to schools near/above 10
is it really unreasonable to suggest that if you get into greater than 4 schools you
immediately narrow your choices down to 4 at least ideally 3 or less
and decline the other offers.

cato88
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby cato88 » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:01 am

Helio wrote:It is just a thought. I don't understand how schools like Wisconsin can make up their mind in 30 days and Stanford needs over 2.5 months, when their applicant pool differs by about 50 people. Yes a week maybe two is fine, but not month that just seems like you are slowing it down on purpose

Thats weird because it would benefit everyone if schools gave decisions from top tier to bottom tier. Students wouldnt have to hold on their decision because they are waiting for a reach school.

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Helio
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby Helio » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:39 am

cato88 wrote:
Helio wrote:It is just a thought. I don't understand how schools like Wisconsin can make up their mind in 30 days and Stanford needs over 2.5 months, when their applicant pool differs by about 50 people. Yes a week maybe two is fine, but not month that just seems like you are slowing it down on purpose

Thats weird because it would benefit everyone if schools gave decisions from top tier to bottom tier. Students wouldnt have to hold on their decision because they are waiting for a reach school.


That system would be better, but look at all the top tier schools. Berkeley made their decisions around March 1st last year (deadline around Dec, 15th), UCSB has this huge range from late Jan to early Mar (Deadline Dec. 15.), Harvard is late Feb to late March (deadline Dec. 15th) and Stanford is around March 1st (Deadline Dec. 15th). As you can see some of the top programs can take forever to reach a decision. Yes fine you might have a ton of applicants, but i doubt they read every single app when some of them are below requirements and when professors at those unis tell me they have 10 to 20 minutes per application.

cato88
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby cato88 » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:45 am

I have no idea why those schools take as long as they do when MIT manages to go over the same amount of applications and start making offers early Febuary. Other schools should follow MIT's example.

excel
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby excel » Fri Feb 06, 2009 6:32 am

cato88 wrote:
stardust wrote:As a student, there is a reason to wait until you get a decision from
all the schools you applied to. That reason is simply, what if you go to
your first choice school and you decide you absolutely hate it there for
whatever reason. Then you can say, well I got into these other schools
before. Maybe I can move to one of those programs.

But why do you need to wait for all your decisions, that still
doesnt justify waiting for all.
I also dont think it is unreasonable
to say that you should not need to keep more than 3-4 schools in limbo. There
are people including in this forum who have applied to schools near/above 10
is it really unreasonable to suggest that if you get into greater than 4 schools you
immediately narrow your choices down to 4 at least ideally 3 or less
and decline the other offers.


Among the graduate programs that a student has applied to, I do not think it wise or reasonable to drop without visiting any graduate program that s/he may end up choosing. And, unless s/he had applied to a large number of "safeties", most programs should fall into this category.

However, I do think that most students must have applied to one or two "safeties", and should withdraw from those programs after getting into programs they are genuinely interested in.

coconut
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby coconut » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:17 am

Is it considered rude to reject a school before visiting? I just feel like if I visited a school that I'm not very interested in, I would be wasting their time and money.

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secander2!
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby secander2! » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:26 am

I believe the consensus is that shouldn't visit a school that you don't want to go to. If you're already planning on rejecting it, then I think it would be a waste of their time and money for you to visit.

Hypatia
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby Hypatia » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:28 am

... and in case of international students it might be impossible to visit a school.

excel
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby excel » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:55 am

coconut wrote:Is it considered rude to reject a school before visiting? I just feel like if I visited a school that I'm not very interested in, I would be wasting their time and money.


secander2! wrote:I believe the consensus is that shouldn't visit a school that you don't want to go to. If you're already planning on rejecting it, then I think it would be a waste of their time and money for you to visit.


Yes. In fact, if you already know that you will not attend a program, it is best for everyone that you simply withdraw your application. That is the point of this thread. The professors in this thread have said that the admission director does not consider it rude, but actually appreciates it. And, this agrees with my personal experience (based on the admission directors' replies to my withdrawal e-mail last year).

cato88
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby cato88 » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:19 pm

excel wrote:Among the graduate programs that a student has applied to, I do not think it wise or reasonable to drop without visiting any graduate program that s/he may end up choosing. And, unless s/he had applied to a large number of "safeties", most programs should fall into this category.

However, I do think that most students must have applied to one or two "safeties", and should withdraw from those programs after getting into programs they are genuinely interested in.

Is it that hard to narrow down your choices to 4.
When you go to Baskin Robbins do you have to try all 31 flavors
to decide when you know that your just going to end up having
one of the three flavors in a Neapolitan.

abeboparebop
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby abeboparebop » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:52 pm

cato88 wrote:Is it that hard to narrow down your choices to 4.
When you go to Baskin Robbins do you have to try all 31 flavors
to decide when you know that your just going to end up having
one of the three flavors in a Neapolitan.


The obvious reply is that picking a grad school is in no way analogous to picking a flavor of ice cream.

cato88
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby cato88 » Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:12 pm

The obvious reply is that the example was based on the amount of choices not the actual choices.

I dont understand why one cannot narrow a decision down to 4 choices.
Assuming someone is applying to a variety of schools > 6 some safeties-reach and schools right in the ballpark
and you are accepted to > 4. Is it really unreasonable to say that if you get into your top 4 choices you should decline
your safeties. If your top 4 choices are that off the mark in satisfying your requirements for graduate schools then why in the world are they your top 4? Did you have any introspective thought into why you are pursuing graduate school? Did you conduct basic research into the programs before applying to them? If the answer to the previous questions are NO what could you have to say to guide your SOP?

excel
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby excel » Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:15 pm

cato88 wrote:The obvious reply is that the example was based on the amount of choices not the actual choices.

I dont understand why one cannot narrow a decision down to 4 choices.
Assuming someone is applying to a variety of schools > 6 some safeties-reach and schools right in the ballpark
and you are accepted to > 4. Is it really unreasonable to say that if you get into your top 4 choices you should decline
your safeties. If your top 4 choices are that off the mark in satisfying your requirements for graduate schools then why in the world are they your top 4? Did you have any introspective thought into why you are pursuing graduate school? Did you conduct basic research into the programs before applying to them? If the answer to the previous questions are NO what could you have to say to guide your SOP?


1. Where are you getting the magic number 4 from? In your earlier post, you were referring to the situation of applying to ~10 programs, which is true for many students as you said. If 1 or 2 of these 10 programs are safeties, that means the student has 8-9 programs of genuine interest. Sure, someone may apply to 6 programs and have 2 safeties+4 genuine interest, and someone may apply to 10 programs with 6 safeties, but these are special cases and no way universal.

2. Regarding the programs of genuine interest, I do not consider it wise to rank them before visiting--this may bias one's visit experience and impression. If anyone wants to rank them, very well--it is his or her business. But, every applicant has the right to not rank programs till after the visits. So, you cannot expect the applicant to pre-select 4 programs out of his/ her pool of programs of genuine interest.

I do agree with you on the fundamental point here: almost all students would have programs of genuine interest + safeties, and as soon as s/he gets a financial offer from a program of genuine interest, s/he should withdraw from the safeties.

cato88 wrote:
excel wrote:Among the graduate programs that a student has applied to, I do not think it wise or reasonable to drop without visiting any graduate program that s/he may end up choosing. And, unless s/he had applied to a large number of "safeties", most programs should fall into this category.

However, I do think that most students must have applied to one or two "safeties", and should withdraw from those programs after getting into programs they are genuinely interested in.

Is it that hard to narrow down your choices to 4.
When you go to Baskin Robbins do you have to try all 31 flavors
to decide when you know that your just going to end up having
one of the three flavors in a Neapolitan.


If my life depended on my choice and I have never tasted any of those flavors before, yes, I would try ALL 31 flavors. However, as my choice of ice cream is not that important, I just try 1 flavor at one time, not even 4. I am sure if an ice cream manufacturer comes up with 10 new possibilities, they will sample all 10 before choosing 1 possibility to pursue long term--their choice would impact their company's future in a big way.

cato88
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby cato88 » Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:48 pm

excel wrote:1. Where are you getting the magic number 4 from? In your earlier post, you were referring to the situation of applying to ~10 programs, which is true for many students as you said. If 1 or 2 of these 10 programs are safeties, that means the student has 8-9 programs of genuine interest. Sure, someone may apply to 6 programs and have 2 safeties+4 genuine interest, and someone may apply to 10 programs with 6 safeties, but these are special cases and no way universal.

2. Regarding the programs of genuine interest, I do not consider it wise to rank them before visiting--this may bias one's visit experience and impression. If anyone wants to rank them, very well--it is his or her business. But, every applicant has the right to not rank programs till after the visits. So, you cannot expect the applicant to pre-select 4 programs out of his/ her pool of programs of genuine interest.

I do agree with you on the fundamental point here: almost all students would have programs of genuine interest + safeties, and as soon as s/he gets a financial offer from a program of genuine interest, s/he should withdraw from the safeties.


Come on 4 is just an example number just like 10 for the number of applications. Making such a big deal over choosing a number is such a bad logical foundation for an argument.
Its not that hard to make some decisions before visiting. Say you get into UCSD , Stanford , UCLA, U-Colarado-Boulder, Rutgers, Harvard, MIT, JHU ,UMD,NYU? (These are only examples)
You could distinguish them based on your research interest send an e-mail to a professor that your interested in and ask if he is going to need graduate students in his group? Maybe followup with how many?
You could narrow down by how many groups interest you overall?
How does this school/program help your post PhD plans?
A little research about the location like the Madison thread recently?
Ask your advisers about their opinion on your thoughts regarding the previous questions?
I could make a longer lists and if people chipped in absurdly many.

--------------
Suppose you decide you have absolutely no idea what you want to research given the previous choices you should pick one of the large graduate programs like MIT ,UCLA , Harvard,UMD , U-Boulder, Stanford
Maybe you have an east coast-west coast preference
MIT, Harvard, UMD
or
UCLA , Stanford , U Boulder.

Maybe you send e-mail to some research groups youre interested and find out they have almost no room
for new graduate students.

Knock another one of or two

Your down to 3 . Was it that hard.

----------------------------
Maybe you really want to go to top 20 school
You can knock initial down to 6

-----------------------------
Maybe your hell-bent on working with 2-3 research groups
send an e-mail and find they have space
knock down lists to up to 3
--------------------------------------
gradschoolshopper.com has info on most programs

And on and on. You could make a lists under < 5 if you can just gather information about yourself and
send a few e-mails which I am pretty sure a professor would answer because if they werent interested in you
then you would not have been admitted. I suppose if you dont want to gather information a decision would be
hard but you really have to gather information and keep doing so even after you narrow your list down and visit
schools because nobody is going to make the decision for you.

excel
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby excel » Fri Feb 06, 2009 8:22 pm

cato88 wrote:
excel wrote:1. Where are you getting the magic number 4 from? In your earlier post, you were referring to the situation of applying to ~10 programs, which is true for many students as you said. If 1 or 2 of these 10 programs are safeties, that means the student has 8-9 programs of genuine interest. Sure, someone may apply to 6 programs and have 2 safeties+4 genuine interest, and someone may apply to 10 programs with 6 safeties, but these are special cases and no way universal.

2. Regarding the programs of genuine interest, I do not consider it wise to rank them before visiting--this may bias one's visit experience and impression. If anyone wants to rank them, very well--it is his or her business. But, every applicant has the right to not rank programs till after the visits. So, you cannot expect the applicant to pre-select 4 programs out of his/ her pool of programs of genuine interest.

I do agree with you on the fundamental point here: almost all students would have programs of genuine interest + safeties, and as soon as s/he gets a financial offer from a program of genuine interest, s/he should withdraw from the safeties.


Come on 4 is just an example number just like 10 for the number of applications. Making such a big deal over choosing a number is such a bad logical foundation for an argument.
Its not that hard to make some decisions before visiting. Say you get into UCSD , Stanford , UCLA, U-Colarado-Boulder, Rutgers, Harvard, MIT, JHU ,UMD,NYU? (These are only examples)
You could distinguish them based on your research interest send an e-mail to a professor that your interested in and ask if he is going to need graduate students in his group? Maybe followup with how many?
You could narrow down by how many groups interest you overall?
How does this school/program help your post PhD plans?
A little research about the location like the Madison thread recently?
Ask your advisers about their opinion on your thoughts regarding the previous questions?
I could make a longer lists and if people chipped in absurdly many.

You should do all this before applying, not after. And, by the way, dont expect applicants to be genuinely set on one research area, much less one research group. Many students change their mind after a year of graduate school.

And, if the number 4 was just a random number you picked as an example, then we are in agreement.

My point is simple: you cannot claim any particular number, 4 or 6 or anything else, that you think someone else should pre-narrow down their options to. It is not your or my place to set a limit on how many programs some other student has genuine interest in. The number of weekends in ~2 months and a student's financial condition set an approximate inherent limit to the number of programs that a student can visit, and be genuinely and practically interested in. It is wrong to try to impose any limit on applicants.

cato88
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby cato88 » Fri Feb 06, 2009 8:32 pm

I simply think that one should be able to narrow a fair amount of schools just by asking yourself the previous questions and researching schools. Dont fool yourself into believing that you really have done enough research after youre acceptances if you have a lists of schools in the upper single digits. Dont sit around gathering acceptances hell bent on not researching schools further/asking questions/ or doing introspection until school visits that obviously does not show you honestly considered admissionprof's original post. Think about it this way for the school that you may only have a flicker of interest after not having researched/asked questions about there is another student who has done his research /asked questions/done the introspection and still has that school in a short list who would benefit a whole lot from a visit than the former student would because the hardest elimination is going to be in your short list and for smaller programs they are not going to have the funding to aid in funding everyones visit.

excel
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby excel » Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:18 pm

cato88 wrote:Think about it this way for the school that you may only have a flicker of interest after not having researched/asked questions about there is another student who has done his research /asked questions/done the introspection and still has that school in a short list who would benefit a whole lot from a visit than the former student would because the hardest elimination is going to be in your short list and for smaller programs they are not going to have the funding to aid in funding everyones visit.


In my previous posts, I have been clear in dividing programs into programs of genuine interest and safeties.

cato88 wrote:I simply think that one should be able to narrow a fair amount of schools just by asking yourself the previous questions and researching schools. Dont fool yourself into believing that you really have done enough research after youre acceptances if you have a lists of schools in the upper single digits.


Yes, you can narrow down your starting list, but claiming that it can be narrowed down to any particular range (lower/ middle single digits according to you) for everyone is just a claim based on no valid reason or evidence whatsoever. Just writing down a bunch of specific questions that may guide your decision does not show that there exists an upper limit in low/mid single digits on the number of graduate programs that every applicant can narrow down before visiting.

cato88
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby cato88 » Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:40 pm

excel wrote:
cato88 wrote:I simply think that one should be able to narrow a fair amount of schools just by asking yourself the previous questions and researching schools. Dont fool yourself into believing that you really have done enough research after youre acceptances if you have a lists of schools in the upper single digits.


Yes, you can narrow down your starting list, but claiming that it can be narrowed down to any particular range (lower/ middle single digits according to you) for everyone is just a claim based on no valid reason or evidence whatsoever. Just writing down a bunch of specific questions that may guide your decision does not show that there exists an upper limit in low/mid single digits on the number of graduate programs that every applicant can narrow down before visiting.

If you cant narrow your choices down based on your research interests, goals , sending e-mails to professors, introspection,financial reasons to low/mid single digits how do you expect to narrow your choices down to one. Based on how nice the buildings look when you visit or the impression given by the interactions with people chosen by a department to put their best foot forward. I cant possibly prove that there is a number that is perfect or anything regarding admissions just like I cant prove that you cant get into graduate with 2.3GPA. There might be a case but it is not the norm. I also cant prove that there is anything wrong with choosing a school on how nice the buildings look. Its personal there are no proofs/show/qed only opinions and elaborations of the basis for those opinions.
All I can say that if you cant make a short list with all the information available outside of a school visit then I dont understand what you are going to be base your final decision on other than some random superficial impression.

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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby excel » Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:42 pm

cato88 wrote:
excel wrote:1. Where are you getting the magic number 4 from? In your earlier post, you were referring to the situation of applying to ~10 programs, which is true for many students as you said. If 1 or 2 of these 10 programs are safeties, that means the student has 8-9 programs of genuine interest. Sure, someone may apply to 6 programs and have 2 safeties+4 genuine interest, and someone may apply to 10 programs with 6 safeties, but these are special cases and no way universal.

2. Regarding the programs of genuine interest, I do not consider it wise to rank them before visiting--this may bias one's visit experience and impression. If anyone wants to rank them, very well--it is his or her business. But, every applicant has the right to not rank programs till after the visits. So, you cannot expect the applicant to pre-select 4 programs out of his/ her pool of programs of genuine interest.

I do agree with you on the fundamental point here: almost all students would have programs of genuine interest + safeties, and as soon as s/he gets a financial offer from a program of genuine interest, s/he should withdraw from the safeties.


Come on 4 is just an example number just like 10 for the number of applications. Making such a big deal over choosing a number is such a bad logical foundation for an argument.
Its not that hard to make some decisions before visiting. Say you get into UCSD , Stanford , UCLA, U-Colarado-Boulder, Rutgers, Harvard, MIT, JHU ,UMD,NYU? (These are only examples)
You could distinguish them based on your research interest send an e-mail to a professor that your interested in and ask if he is going to need graduate students in his group? Maybe followup with how many?
You could narrow down by how many groups interest you overall?
How does this school/program help your post PhD plans?
A little research about the location like the Madison thread recently?
Ask your advisers about their opinion on your thoughts regarding the previous questions?
I could make a longer lists and if people chipped in absurdly many.

--------------
Suppose you decide you have absolutely no idea what you want to research given the previous choices you should pick one of the large graduate programs like MIT ,UCLA , Harvard,UMD , U-Boulder, Stanford
Maybe you have an east coast-west coast preference
MIT, Harvard, UMD
or
UCLA , Stanford , U Boulder.

Maybe you send e-mail to some research groups youre interested and find out they have almost no room
for new graduate students.

Knock another one of or two

Your down to 3 . Was it that hard.

----------------------------
Maybe you really want to go to top 20 school
You can knock initial down to 6

-----------------------------
Maybe your hell-bent on working with 2-3 research groups
send an e-mail and find they have space
knock down lists to up to 3
--------------------------------------
gradschoolshopper.com has info on most programs

And on and on. You could make a lists under < 5 if you can just gather information about yourself and
send a few e-mails which I am pretty sure a professor would answer because if they werent interested in you
then you would not have been admitted. I suppose if you dont want to gather information a decision would be
hard but you really have to gather information and keep doing so even after you narrow your list down and visit
schools because nobody is going to make the decision for you.


One counter example would suffice to kill your argument.

Counterexample: Applicant A1 has significant research experience in condensed matter experiments and thinks that may be likely his general area of PhD. So, he would like to avoid too small physics programs in case he wants to do something other than condensed matter. No restriction based on coast, weather or anything else. He is primarily concerned that the graduate students are happy, and that a supportive and vibrant academic environments exists, especially an environment in which he will feel at home (The importance of these factors can be found from many posts on this site). He does not give much weight to US NEWs rankings.

I claim that applicant A1 cannot wisely narrow down his list to mid/low single digits, and is a counterexample to your arguments.

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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby excel » Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:50 pm

cato88 wrote:
excel wrote:
cato88 wrote:I simply think that one should be able to narrow a fair amount of schools just by asking yourself the previous questions and researching schools. Dont fool yourself into believing that you really have done enough research after youre acceptances if you have a lists of schools in the upper single digits.


Yes, you can narrow down your starting list, but claiming that it can be narrowed down to any particular range (lower/ middle single digits according to you) for everyone is just a claim based on no valid reason or evidence whatsoever. Just writing down a bunch of specific questions that may guide your decision does not show that there exists an upper limit in low/mid single digits on the number of graduate programs that every applicant can narrow down before visiting.

If you cant narrow your choices down based on your research interests, goals , sending e-mails to professors, introspection,financial reasons to low/mid single digits how do you expect to narrow your choices down to one. Based on how nice the buildings look when you visit or the impression given by the interactions with people chosen by a department to put their best foot forward. I cant possibly prove that there is a number that is perfect or anything regarding admissions just like I cant prove that you cant get into graduate with 2.3GPA. There might be a case but it is not the norm. I also cant prove that there is anything wrong with choosing a school on how nice the buildings look. Its personal there are no proofs/show/qed only opinions and elaborations of the basis for those opinions.
All I can say that if you cant make a short list with all the information available outside of a school visit then I dont understand what you are going to be base your final decision on other than some random superficial impression.


Not clear what you mean. You dont think admission visits have any role in guiding your decision from several to 1? How do You plan to use your admission visits in your decision process?

By the way, I agree that one should not base one's decision on random superficial impressions. Moreover, I think one should not create any superficial impression in one's mind by creating a bias towards or against programs of genuine interest by ranking them before considering all possibly available information holistically.

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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby admissionprof » Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:56 pm

I'm grateful that so many of you understand the situation. But the thread seems to have gotten off-topic. I do NOT suggest that people automatically withdraw (or decline) without sufficient information. But note that some places have visiting weekends in late February or early March. If you have already visited a few, then you do have enough information to eliminate some, and those you should decline right away.

Bottom line---if you are sure you won't be going somewhere, decline or withdraw IMMEDIATELY. If you aren't sure, then don't. The real problem is when people hold many offers until early April, and don't decline any until they've decided where they are going. At that point, it is hard for the admissions committees to invite anyone to visit before the 15th. All I'm asking is for people to be reasonable.

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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby cato88 » Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:13 pm

excel wrote:Not clear what you mean. You dont think admission visits have any role in guiding your decision from several to 1? How do You plan to use your admission visits in your decision process?

I have never advocated nor will I that one should decide on a single graduate school without visiting a school. I did say you could make a short list based on e-mails to professors/research on program/ personal introspection/preferences. If you are left with a short list of 7 or whatever keep looping on the previous questions/research/introspection and if you dont get anywhere until visiting weekend then visit and loop again but at this point you should have necessary info on that school. That is all I was ever suggesting, hopefully that is clear.

This might seem obvious but I have the impression that some people want to wait until ALL their decisions come in before they put a single thought into the basic questions like "Am I interested in this school outside of it being a place of last resort to go to graduate school?". If you first choice is MIT and you have been accepted is there any reason to even wait for a decision for your UCI/UCR decision to come in which only was a safety. Do you care that much about the decision even if your not that interested in going. There are people who would wait for a full offer to be able to put that notch in the bedpost and let it linger before they withdraw/decline.

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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby excel » Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:30 pm

cato88 wrote:
excel wrote:Not clear what you mean. You dont think admission visits have any role in guiding your decision from several to 1? How do You plan to use your admission visits in your decision process?

I have never advocated nor will I that one should decide on a single graduate school without visiting a school. I did say you could make a short list based on e-mails to professors/research on program/ personal introspection/preferences. If you are left with a short list of 7 or whatever keep looping on the previous questions/research/introspection and if you dont get anywhere until visiting weekend then visit and loop again but at this point you should have necessary info on that school. That is all I was ever suggesting, hopefully that is clear. This might seem obvious but I have the impression that some people want to wait until ALL their decisions before they put a single thought into the basic questions like "Am I interested in this school outside of it being a place of last resort to go to graduate school?".


I mentioned about choosing without admission visit just to bring you to the point of agreeing to the importance of graduate school visits in the decision process--because you seemed to be playing down the importance of graduate school visits through comments about building color and whatnot. As I said before, as long as you do not seek to claim a conservative upper limit on the number of programs every applicant can decide to visit, we are very much in agreement-- applicants should not feel pressurized and end up making rash decisions. We have always been agreeing on the fundamental point of the thread. Cheers.

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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby excel » Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:33 pm

Just so that cat's last comment and my last comment do not send the main point of the thread into obscurity ,...

admissionprof wrote:
Bottom line---if you are sure you won't be going somewhere, decline or withdraw IMMEDIATELY. If you aren't sure, then don't. The real problem is when people hold many offers until early April, and don't decline any until they've decided where they are going. At that point, it is hard for the admissions committees to invite anyone to visit before the 15th. All I'm asking is for people to be reasonable.

robertson
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby robertson » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:26 pm

I followed your suggestion admissionprof, I was accepted at my top choice and I decided to withdraw my application to my safety school. I was 99% sure I wouldn't have gone if I had been accepted. They repplied saying that they appreciated my fast withdrawal, Uwash has one of the nicest secretaries of all :D

tshafer
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby tshafer » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:29 pm

I did the same.

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G01
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby G01 » Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:57 pm

I was also selected to one of my top realistic choices and I have withdrawn my application from my safety as well.

nonick
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby nonick » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:54 pm

Ok, so after I have been accepted to Cornell and UIUC, I decided to cancel my flight reservation to Baltimore, and will send emails to the JHU, Brown, and Madison physics departments that I am declining their offers in the next couple of days. Hopefully, that will help some of you guys who are waiting to hear back from any of those schools.

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a13ean
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby a13ean » Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:10 pm

blanked
Last edited by a13ean on Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

nonick
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby nonick » Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:36 pm

a13ean wrote:I've been accepted at my first choice school but unfortunately I can't decline any others since my girlfriend is still waiting to hear from her program there....

yeah, the famous two body problem... now I am finally glad that I broke up with my gf last semester...

PoincareSection
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Re: A plea from admissionprof

Postby PoincareSection » Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:41 pm

nonick wrote:
a13ean wrote:I've been accepted at my first choice school but unfortunately I can't decline any others since my girlfriend is still waiting to hear from her program there....

yeah, the famous two body problem... now I am finally glad that I broke up with my gf last semester...

:lol:
That's funny but terrible.




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