Request from admissionprof

  • 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.

admissionprof
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Request from admissionprof

Postby admissionprof » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:54 pm

Hello. As most of you know, I'm chair of Graduate Admissions at a top 50-ish (but not top 20) university. Many institutions are now sending out acceptances, and many of you are getting good news. Skimming through the profiles, 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!

(I posted a similar plea three years ago, so I have self-plagiarized...)

bfollinprm
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:04 pm

admissionprof wrote:This means lots of people on the "waiting list". It also means that many will be accepted later than usual.


The problem is this cuts both ways. With big waitlists, everyone is holding on to their safeties. Especially with places like the UC's, UT Austin, etc sitting on their hind legs. For instance, if I get an acceptance from Chicago, I'd drop 3/4 of my acceptances the same day. And with a busy schedule I'd like to visit schools in trips hitting multiple universities. That's hard when even the fits on my list aren't indicating at all to me whether they'll accept or decline (Hello? NYU? Do you remember I sent an application?) even after I contact them. I feel stymied by the lack of movement on the grad school's front.

For me, this is exacerbated by trying to solve the 2 body problem. If my SO doesn't get into Irvine, for instance, I can drop it, but everything has to stay on my list until the school gets back to me AND her. I'm starting to think nothing will be decided until mid-April.

I know none of this is your problem, but it feels good to vent one way or another.

admissionprof
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby admissionprof » Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:09 pm

bfollinprm wrote:The problem is this cuts both ways. With big waitlists, everyone is holding on to their safeties. Especially with places like the UC's, UT Austin, etc sitting on their hind legs. For instance, if I get an acceptance from Chicago, I'd drop 3/4 of my acceptances the same day. And with a busy schedule I'd like to visit schools in trips hitting multiple universities. That's hard when even the fits on my list aren't indicating at all to me whether they'll accept or decline (Hello? NYU? Do you remember I sent an application?) even after I contact them. I feel stymied by the lack of movement on the grad school's front.

For me, this is exacerbated by trying to solve the 2 body problem. If my SO doesn't get into Irvine, for instance, I can drop it, but everything has to stay on my list until the school gets back to me AND her. I'm starting to think nothing will be decided until mid-April.

I know none of this is your problem, but it feels good to vent one way or another.



I agree. If you get into several safeties, though, and know which you prefer, then you can decline the other. Of course, the two-body problem completely changes everything, since you don't necessarily know which you prefer, and in that case I would be reluctant to turn a place down unless you absolutely know it won't work out. It might not hurt, by the way, to mention to the admissions director at a couple of places that your decision will depend on where your SO goes. Certainly, if I got such a comment, I'd contact the other department (assuming it's different) and let them know -- if your SO is then on the bubble, it would help

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HappyQuark
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby HappyQuark » Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:12 pm

bfollinprm wrote:
admissionprof wrote:This means lots of people on the "waiting list". It also means that many will be accepted later than usual.


The problem is this cuts both ways. With big waitlists, everyone is holding on to their safeties. Especially with places like the UC's, UT Austin, etc sitting on their hind legs. For instance, if I get an acceptance from Chicago, I'd drop 3/4 of my acceptances the same day. And with a busy schedule I'd like to visit schools in trips hitting multiple universities. That's hard when even the fits on my list aren't indicating at all to me whether they'll accept or decline (Hello? NYU? Do you remember I sent an application?) even after I contact them. I feel stymied by the lack of movement on the grad school's front.

For me, this is exacerbated by trying to solve the 2 body problem. If my SO doesn't get into Irvine, for instance, I can drop it, but everything has to stay on my list until the school gets back to me AND her. I'm starting to think nothing will be decided until mid-April.

I know none of this is your problem, but it feels good to vent one way or another.


The problem here, as you pointed out, is a catch 22.

Prospective students need to give up the offers that they don't intend to accept so that those being waitlisted can be given the opportunity. However this can't be done until the students know whether or not their preferred choice is even really a choice, which hinges on the schools sending out acceptances/rejections/waitlists in a timely fashion. Since most of the schools seem to want to send out rejections well after the acceptances have gone out (even for those who are clearly not going to be admitted) the prospective students end up holding onto their offers. I think that resolving the issue has to start with the schools getting quicker and more efficient at selecting their Yes/No/Maybe piles and moving forward with those decisions faster. Does someone with a 3.0 GPA and no research experience really need to wait until after all of the acceptances have gone out to be told they aren't getting into Harvard?

admissionprof
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby admissionprof » Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:17 pm

HappyQuark wrote: I think that resolving the issue has to start with the schools getting quicker and more efficient at selecting their Yes/No/Maybe piles and moving forward with those decisions faster. Does someone with a 3.0 GPA and no research experience really need to wait until after all of the acceptances have gone out to be told they aren't getting into Harvard?


I agree. Why some of these places wait so long to say no is beyond me. I understand the need for a waiting list, but still, they are often ridiculously late in rejecting people.

bfollinprm
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:09 pm

admissionprof wrote:
I agree. If you get into several safeties, though, and know which you prefer, then you can decline the other. Of course, the two-body problem completely changes everything, since you don't necessarily know which you prefer, and in that case I would be reluctant to turn a place down unless you absolutely know it won't work out. It might not hurt, by the way, to mention to the admissions director at a couple of places that your decision will depend on where your SO goes. Certainly, if I got such a comment, I'd contact the other department (assuming it's different) and let them know -- if your SO is then on the bubble, it would help


Sure. I've done as we'll as I could with letting people know where they lie on my priority list, and iwe contact about the status of the other's admission the minute one of us hears back. Another problem is this crazy notion of backloading all the admit weekends. I get the advantage a late weekend gives, but it's hard to take a school of the list until you know you'd love somewhere else more (especially when choosing between safeties, when ancilliary concerns become much more important).

Dreaded Anomaly
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby Dreaded Anomaly » Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:16 pm

bfollinprm wrote:Sure. I've done as we'll as I could with letting people know where they lie on my priority list, and iwe contact about the status of the other's admission the minute one of us hears back. Another problem is this crazy notion of backloading all the admit weekends. I get the advantage a late weekend gives, but it's hard to take a school of the list until you know you'd love somewhere else more (especially when choosing between safeties, when ancilliary concerns become much more important).


Yeah, the late weekends are difficult. Maryland's isn't until April 8, and since as of now I'm deciding between Rochester, Illinois, and Maryland, I won't be able to decline anything until just about the last minute.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby WhoaNonstop » Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:27 pm

However, this chain starts with the top applicants. Of course, there are some people who have different circumstances, but in general if you've been accepted by 4+ places, it might be time to start thinking about which ones you'd prefer over others and giving admission committees a heads up. Like I said, this applies mostly to students applying to top 20 schools and holding on to too many of them. The faster higher programs shorten their wait list, the faster lower end programs will be able to open up positions (due to students accepting higher offers from being taken off a wait list).

I wouldn't think having more than three schools "active" on your graduate school application list should be necessary. You should know enough about the schools, the campus, and the research that intrigues you in order to make eliminating decisions at this time!

-Riley

ticklecricket
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby ticklecricket » Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:53 pm

I wish schools would send out all of their decisions in the same time frame. I got accepted into my "safeties" first, and already arranged visits cause I hadn't heard anything else. I still won't be able to come to a decision until I hear back from the other schools. I agree, it is nice to open up the wait list, but can't schools let people know they're rejected or waitlisted when they've decided that?

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kubikat
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby kubikat » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:51 pm

I just declined a $30000 fellowship offer from USC. Figured that unless I absolutely hate Yale, I wouldn't choose USC over it...But Yale doesn't have its open house till end of March, so I didn't want to make them wait so long. Hopefully I won't hate Yale. :(

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby WhoaNonstop » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:58 pm

kubikat wrote:I just declined a $30000 fellowship offer from USC. Figured that unless I absolutely hate Yale, I wouldn't choose USC over it...But Yale doesn't have its open house till end of March, so I didn't want to make them wait so long. Hopefully I won't hate Yale. :(


I'm sure you will love Yale. Plus, you have to remember, 30k in New Haven goes much further than 30k in southern california. Unless there was some research you were really passionate about at USC, I think you've made the right decision.

-Riley

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kubikat
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby kubikat » Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:37 am

Thanks Riley! I did have a prof there I really wanted to work with, but turned out he didn't have a group... and wasn't really doing much research lately. I was told he might take me as a grad student, which would be awfully nice, but then again, I'd prefer working in a group rather than one-on-one.

swestrings
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby swestrings » Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:04 am

HappyQuark wrote:The problem here, as you pointed out, is a catch 22.

Prospective students need to give up the offers that they don't intend to accept so that those being waitlisted can be given the opportunity. However this can't be done until the students know whether or not their preferred choice is even really a choice, which hinges on the schools sending out acceptances/rejections/waitlists in a timely fashion.


Word. If students were collectively responsible for the budgets of universities, then by Jupiter the universities should be collectively responsible for letting students know in a very timely fashion. Sometimes I feel the universities are competing in who can have the biggest bureaucracies and slowest review processes.

I believe there is no cure for this dilemma.

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HappyQuark
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby HappyQuark » Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:12 am

swestrings wrote: Sometimes I feel the universities are competing in who can have the biggest bureaucracies and slowest review processes.


Stony Brook is currently winning.

matto07
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby matto07 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:57 am

HappyQuark wrote:
swestrings wrote: Sometimes I feel the universities are competing in who can have the biggest bureaucracies and slowest review processes.


Stony Brook is currently winning.


University of Texas is at least a close second. Their app was due Dec 1 !!

t2kburl
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Re: Request from admissionprof

Postby t2kburl » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:46 am

Not sure anyone here will be affected, but UW-Madison (ECE) and UW-Milwaukee (Physics) will get a "thanks, but no thanks" email from me very soon.
I have made my choice. 8)




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