Contacting schools for feedback

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mhazelm
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Contacting schools for feedback

Postby mhazelm » Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:32 pm

I can't remember where, but somewhere I recall someone saying that they called the schools that rejected him to see if they had any comments on his application. Is this a taboo thing, or ok? What I'd like to do is to find out whether I was rejected mainly due to my sh** GRE scores or whether there was some other flaw (like they didn't think I had enough research, or whatever). That way I can try to fix the flaw in the next year before I apply again. Has anyone done this? Who do you contact and what do you say?

asouljahman
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby asouljahman » Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:48 pm

mhazelm wrote:I can't remember where, but somewhere I recall someone saying that they called the schools that rejected him to see if they had any comments on his application.


This is absolute nonsense!!

I swear... physics students can be the most paranoid creatures on this planet! I guess it's because of that 'overly analytical trait thingy' that's working overtime or sumpthin'.

I contacted one department sometime ago, and the secretary was quite nice. She explained that the school was on spring break and so the committee was taking that time off to make decisions for their first wave. She also said I could email the Director directly, but I said I'd wait it out instead.

No big deal, dude. Just be polite.

P.S. it's not that difficult to tell when someone is smiling over the phone...
Last edited by asouljahman on Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

admissionprof
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby admissionprof » Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:51 pm

mhazelm wrote:I can't remember where, but somewhere I recall someone saying that they called the schools that rejected him to see if they had any comments on his application. Is this a taboo thing, or ok? What I'd like to do is to find out whether I was rejected mainly due to my sh** GRE scores or whether there was some other flaw (like they didn't think I had enough research, or whatever). That way I can try to fix the flaw in the next year before I apply again. Has anyone done this? Who do you contact and what do you say?


When students contact me to find out why they were rejected, I almost always answer them. Of course, it can be awkward if it was due to some negative letters, since those are confidential, but usually there are more discussable reasons.

abeboparebop
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby abeboparebop » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:49 pm

asouljahman wrote:
mhazelm wrote:I can't remember where, but somewhere I recall someone saying that they called the schools that rejected him to see if they had any comments on his application.


This is absolute nonsense!!

I swear... physics students can be the most paranoid creatures on this planet! I guess it's because of that 'overly analytical trait thingy' that's working overtime or sumpthin'.

I contacted one department sometime ago, and the secretary was quite nice. She explained that the school was on spring break and so the committee was taking that time off to make decisions for their first wave. She also said I could email the Director directly, but I said I'd wait it out instead.

No big deal, dude. Just be polite.

P.S. it's not that difficult to tell when someone is smiling over the phone...


I think you're misreading the sentence you quoted... she's not actually worrying about being rejected, she's contacting schools from which she has already been rejected.

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grae313
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby grae313 » Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:28 pm

mhazelm wrote:I can't remember where, but somewhere I recall someone saying that they called the schools that rejected him to see if they had any comments on his application. Is this a taboo thing, or ok? What I'd like to do is to find out whether I was rejected mainly due to my sh** GRE scores or whether there was some other flaw (like they didn't think I had enough research, or whatever). That way I can try to fix the flaw in the next year before I apply again. Has anyone done this? Who do you contact and what do you say?


Seems to me like a reasonable thing to do. The worst that can happen is they'll tell you they can't/won't discuss it.

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noojens
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby noojens » Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:52 pm

admissionprof wrote:When students contact me to find out why they were rejected, I almost always answer them. Of course, it can be awkward if it was due to some negative letters, since those are confidential, but usually there are more discussable reasons.

This surprises me... I had assumed that recommenders would write lukewarm letters at worst - it seems like a professor would really have to harbor a grudge against a student to write them a bad letter. Do you often see outright negative letters?

admissionprof
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby admissionprof » Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:43 pm

noojens wrote:
admissionprof wrote:When students contact me to find out why they were rejected, I almost always answer them. Of course, it can be awkward if it was due to some negative letters, since those are confidential, but usually there are more discussable reasons.

This surprises me... I had assumed that recommenders would write lukewarm letters at worst - it seems like a professor would really have to harbor a grudge against a student to write them a bad letter. Do you often see outright negative letters?


They are seldom outright negative, but damning with faint praise. "He is above average in our class", "He tries very hard", "She might succeed in graduate school".... things like that.

Theoretischer
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby Theoretischer » Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:25 pm

Last time I checked trying hard and being above average were good things.

kaosgrace
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby kaosgrace » Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:32 pm

They are, but a related phenomenon to grade inflation is recommendation letter inflation. American recommendation letter writers generally make their best students sound like minor deities; "trying hard" is for those lesser beings who actually have to try. There's the implication there that the student in question is an actual human who has occasionally been observed to fail in his/her efforts.

Theoretischer
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby Theoretischer » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:48 pm

.
Last edited by Theoretischer on Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kaosgrace
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby kaosgrace » Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:50 am

Well, of course. But for those students whom the letter writers actually believe to be excellent prospects for grad school, the "trying" aspect can be left unstated; the writer can instead talk about the things the student has actually succeeded at, the things that make him/her stand out. No American recommender would mention a student's "trying hard" or being "above average" unless those were actually the best things he/she could say about the student; a student whom the recommender actually believed to be a top prospect for grad school would be called "brilliant," "promising," "outstanding," "dedicated," etcetera.

I agree with you that nearly everyone has the potential to be better at science and math than they currently are. I think trying is important. But recommenders have a certain responsibility to convey their honest (if perhaps euphemistically stated) opinion of a particular applicant's potential to become a professional physics researcher so that grad schools can decide whom to accept. The grad schools can't accept every student who applies, and the truth is that not everybody has equal potential to be a professional physicist - at least not by the time they're senior undergrads applying to grad school (whether everyone has equal potential as a young child is a debate I'll leave to the nature/nurture people). So distinctions have to be drawn somehow; recommenders can't just write that every applicant walks on water. The approach most have taken is to say the absolute best things they can honestly say about each student. If "above average" or "tries hard" somehow makes it into that list of best things, that's absolutely damning with faint praise.

cato88
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby cato88 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:59 am

I think "brilliant" and "outstanding" are probably way too often in recommendations. Not every graduate student is brilliant I wouldnt even consider half the grad students at top 10 schools brilliant.

gumpstuck
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby gumpstuck » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:12 am

mhazelm wrote:I can't remember where, but somewhere I recall someone saying that they called the schools that rejected him to see if they had any comments on his application. Is this a taboo thing, or ok? What I'd like to do is to find out whether I was rejected mainly due to my sh** GRE scores or whether there was some other flaw (like they didn't think I had enough research, or whatever). That way I can try to fix the flaw in the next year before I apply again. Has anyone done this? Who do you contact and what do you say?


On a slightly related note... How feasible is it do you think to contact the admissions committee to appeal the rejection decision? I know that sounds ridiculous but I'm just throwing it out there to see if anyone has ever done that before?

admissionprof
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby admissionprof » Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:50 am

gumpstuck wrote:
On a slightly related note... How feasible is it do you think to contact the admissions committee to appeal the rejection decision? I know that sounds ridiculous but I'm just throwing it out there to see if anyone has ever done that before?


I've never heard of that succeeding. Ever. Every couple of years, someone asks, and it is quite annoying (we respond with a quick "no").

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dlenmn
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby dlenmn » Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:15 pm

gumpstuck wrote:How feasible is it do you think to contact the admissions committee to appeal the rejection decision?


Exactly what higher authority would you appeal to, and on what grounds? The supreme court because it's unconstitutional? Good luck!

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Helio
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby Helio » Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:03 pm

dlenmn wrote:
gumpstuck wrote:How feasible is it do you think to contact the admissions committee to appeal the rejection decision?


Exactly what higher authority would you appeal to, and on what grounds? The supreme court because it's unconstitutional? Good luck!



But it is my pursuit of happiness :lol: :lol:

phys09
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby phys09 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:32 pm

dlenmn wrote:
gumpstuck wrote:How feasible is it do you think to contact the admissions committee to appeal the rejection decision?


Exactly what higher authority would you appeal to, and on what grounds? The supreme court because it's unconstitutional? Good luck!


I guess if you got outside finding, something like an NSF fellowship, I could imagine you'd have a chance at a successful appeal. (Not that I have one, just that I figure everyone loves a freebie.) Sound possible? Or maybe even this would just come off as obnoxious whining.

cato88
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby cato88 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:13 pm

gumpstuck wrote:On a slightly related note... How feasible is it do you think to contact the admissions committee to appeal the rejection decision? I know that sounds ridiculous but I'm just throwing it out there to see if anyone has ever done that before?

The chances of success zero because an appeal only ever works if its a sure case that you should have been admitted in which case you would have been part of the initial waves of acceptances. There is only the graduate school to appeal to which would only defer back to the department.

Your essentially calling the admissions committee stupid/wrong for not admitting you
by appealing to any higher power like the graduate school.
Then the graduate school is going to defer to department which is only going to
be ticked and probably less likely to accept you if you apply the following year.

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dlenmn
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby dlenmn » Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:54 pm

Helio wrote:But it is my pursuit of happiness


I realize that is a joke, but a lot of people don't realize that phrase is not in the constitution...

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Helio
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Re: Contacting schools for feedback

Postby Helio » Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:40 pm

dlenmn wrote:
Helio wrote:But it is my pursuit of happiness


I realize that is a joke, but a lot of people don't realize that phrase is not in the constitution...


yes i know the declaration of independence, which could be seen as a preamble to the constitution




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