admissionprof wrote:This is very rare. We've been asked once in the past decade. Since we don't want a student who doesn't want to be here, we agreed to let them out of their agreement. But some student who desperately wanted to get in was shut out by this. It is unethical, as you say. And many institutions don't forget when someone screws them over like that.
One of my fellow grad students was admitted to U. Hawaii but without a guarantee of funding. So he accepted here with a nice scholarship. After April 15, Hawaii offered him funding but he felt it was too late. At the time he told me this, it was well below freezing. The wind was blowing and there was a few inches of dirty snow on the ground.
As far as it being unethical, well I've seen my share of misbehavior by grad students. And misbehavior by institutions. I don't think that cancelling an acceptance after April 15th would put one even in the first circle of Hell.* For example, a Fulbright scholar who didn't go to class. And then there are students who take a TA job while having another job on the side, etc.
As far as having an institution not forgetting being screwed over like this, just what are they going to do about it? For those students who will remain in academia (which is a minority I suppose), just how many choices are there for places to apply for a post doc? And will they even remember it at that institution when he gets his PhD 6 or 8 years from now? I doubt it.
It appears to me that even after a student accepts at a particular school, the school really doesn't know if they are going to show up in September. And when students do not show up, it's no big deal.
* I.e. virtuous pagans who were not sinful but were ignorant of Christ.