"waves"?? i dont see the diffraction pattern, just a mess

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

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Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:12 pm

"waves"?? i dont see the diffraction pattern, just a mess

Postby ryan6 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:57 pm

Can someone please explain how these acceptance "waves" are suppose to work out, or point to somewhere that explains them?

From what I can gather, it seems like the acceptance process would just end up in one huge standoff as schools wait for their top picks to accept before they send out another wave of acceptances. Meanwhile, students hesitate to accept as they wait for their favorite schools to send out another wave. Eventually, one party has to either make the gamble or take what they can get. How is the system set up to make sure this happens?

i apologize if this has already been discussed at length. i cant find a comprehensive answer

Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2009 1:14 pm

Re: "waves"?? i dont see the diffraction pattern, just a mess

Postby Ryalnos » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:28 pm

If a school accepts in waves, I imagine the procedure is similar to what follows:

The earliest wave is composed those students whose applications are strong enough that their admission to the grad school is 'obvious'. These acceptances are sent out as soon as possible since there will be serious competition for these students, and it's nice to let them know as soon as possible.

The next wave would probably consist of the tougher decisions. Here, the research interests of those accepted in the first wave might be a factor in deciding some of the admissions. It might be possible for the committees to roughly gauge the interest of the students in the first wave through their registration for visits and other correspondence with the grad school, but I doubt it would be a serious factor in the second wave for most 'decent-sized' departments.

Thus, I imagine that the wait list is where the hesitance of admitted students to accept or decline offers actually becomes significant.

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