Grad student trade?

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wavicle
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Grad student trade?

Postby wavicle » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:57 pm

Maybe it's because I recently watched Moneyball, but what do you think about the idea of a post-April 15 trade? That is when a student asks to be released from their acceptance of offer after April 15 they can do so with truly no hard feelings if they are able to trade places with another student on the waitlist. Assuming both students want acceptance at each others schools.

TakeruK
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Re: Grad student trade?

Postby TakeruK » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:35 pm

I would think it's tough because the school that the student already accepted may have planned on getting 4 acceptances out of 12 offers, but that student could have been the 6th student to accept. So, maybe the school doesn't want a "replacement". In addition, the student in question might be in a certain subfield while the waitlisted/other student could be wanting to join a group that is already quite full. And one student may have a fellowship but not another! Now, double (or even square!) all the complications because there is likely to be similar issues at the other school too!! And, the students who want to trade places might not be ranked the same on the respective waitlists.

This might work if, for some reason, student X and Y are almost exactly the same. However, I think this would work out naturally anyways, if the conditions were so perfect.

I wonder if schools share their waitlists or list of accepted students with each other. I feel like this would be a breach of privacy so they probably would not. So, how would a trade be set up in the first place, unless the two students shared the information themselves.

Finally, as far as I know, even if you accept an offer of admission, you are not legally obligated to attend that school. Just like any other school, you can quit whenever you want, including before school starts. (You may become ineligible for some of your financial awards though, and might have to repay them if you quit after they pay you). It's not leaving a school that's hard, the hard part is that most of the time, when you sign to accept a school, there is a clause that requires you to declare that you haven't already accepted another offer without getting a release first. So, without a release, the second school might refuse your acceptance.

But of course, it's not the legal obligation that one should be worried about, as profs have posted, your name will probably be remembered in that department. It sounds like schools will grant a release if a student asks for it so if you really think another school is a better fit for you, you should go ahead and ask for a release and change schools. You have to act in your own best interests, but every action has consequences and you would have to live with them (possibly causing another student to lose their spot, damaged reputation etc.). I imagine that, as professionals, many of us will have to make decisions with serious consequences in our careers -- there isn't always a way to do things so that everyone wins, but you need to do what you feel is right for you and accept that your actions have consequences. (Not directing this at "you", just using the general "you").

admissionprof
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Re: Grad student trade?

Postby admissionprof » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:52 pm

TakeruK: Your answer is excellent and I agree completely. I would never share our acceptance lists or waiting lists with any other school, unless I had permission of the student. Sometimes (for a nearby school) a student with a two body problem might need help, for example. But I've never heard of a "trade" before and can't see how it would be workable.

By the way, many admissions directors do read this website, and can sometimes identify an applicant (and thus see where else they've applied and the results). But we would never, never, never take any action based on that knowledge. That would be, IMO, highly unethical. I look at the information to get an idea of what stipend levels our competition is paying, and things like that. But even with that, I can't see how any sort of "trade" could ever be worked out.

wavicle
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Re: Grad student trade?

Postby wavicle » Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:51 pm

Sometimes I just ask questions for the heck of it. There are a few threads that discuss the problem of not hearing back from a school until after April 15, and I was proposing a solution--something I didn't notice of others (at least in recent years).

Yes, it does seem improbable to find a comparable student for a trade. Does half the entering class even know which subfield or group they want to enter?

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InquilineKea
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Re: Grad student trade?

Postby InquilineKea » Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:10 am

admissionprof wrote:TakeruK: Your answer is excellent and I agree completely. I would never share our acceptance lists or waiting lists with any other school, unless I had permission of the student. Sometimes (for a nearby school) a student with a two body problem might need help, for example. But I've never heard of a "trade" before and can't see how it would be workable.

By the way, many admissions directors do read this website, and can sometimes identify an applicant (and thus see where else they've applied and the results). But we would never, never, never take any action based on that knowledge. That would be, IMO, highly unethical. I look at the information to get an idea of what stipend levels our competition is paying, and things like that. But even with that, I can't see how any sort of "trade" could ever be worked out.


Hmm, I'm not totally sure if they wouldn't take an action based on that knowledge. If they're making an *extremely* difficult decision between two applicants, but one applicant has offers from other schools and the other doesn't, and the one with offers from other schools has offers from schools that would obviously fit him/her more, then it's hard not to let that influence you (although you wouldn't list that as your reason).

admissionprof
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Re: Grad student trade?

Postby admissionprof » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:15 pm

InquilineKea wrote:Hmm, I'm not totally sure if they wouldn't take an action based on that knowledge. If they're making an *extremely* difficult decision between two applicants, but one applicant has offers from other schools and the other doesn't, and the one with offers from other schools has offers from schools that would obviously fit him/her more, then it's hard not to let that influence you (although you wouldn't list that as your reason).


I disagree. First, I am the only member of our committee that reads the site, and I am a professional and am quite capable of ignoring information that should be ignored. It sometimes happens that we learn, on a confidential basis, something negative about a student and then have to write a LOR for a student. If the negative info was confidential, we have to completely ignore it, and we do. It's like giving a review session before an exam when you've written the exam - you have to answer questions ("is this going to be on the exam?") as if you hadn't made it up yet.

The situation you describe actually did happen within the last few years - I knew that someone was unlikely to accept due to offers from better fit schools, and they were borderline with another applicant. I ignored that fact until the committee had formally made the offer. After that, I suggested that he/she was unlikely to accept, so we went ahead and accepted the other. (Alas, they both turned us down)

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InquilineKea
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Re: Grad student trade?

Postby InquilineKea » Thu Mar 29, 2012 8:38 pm

Oh wow - thanks for the points and for the personal example. I'm just more used to earth/atmospheric/planetary science admissions, where in (many) cases, admissions is not done by committees, but rather, by individual professors deciding whether or not to take someone. In this case, one person could determine the fate of an individual applicant.

Alternatively, if there is a potentially controversial applicant, then knowing the person's offers could possibly make one less likely to burn political capita in trying to personally vouch for an applicant. Does this happen? Rarely, but yes. See http://3dpancakes.typepad.com/ernie/200 ... h_low.html

When I arrived at UC Irvine, the director of graduate admissions, a software engineer, told me he had burned some political capital to get me admitted despite my crappy GPA, that he had a lot riding on my success, that he'd gambled on me because of my work experience, and that I'd better not let him down. (That was the last time I ever talked to him. A month later, I realized I didn't want to do software engineering.)


The committee looks at the MAYBE pile, and if there's still space, maybe the top of the PROBABLY NOT pile. If a student's GPA is under 3.0, it's very likely that no one on the committee will even look at their application. (This is a bit of an oversimplification.)

...UNLESS they're rescued by someone on the faculty. Occasionally, I'll get an email from someone I know at another school asking me to look out for their student's application and pointing out their other strengths: independent study projects, research experience, internships, other employment, etc. If the student looks interesting, I'll pass the note to the committee, asking them to look at the file. That doesn't guarantee that they'll be admitted, of course -- especially if they're in the NO pile -- but if a faculty member really wants to admit someone, it's harder for the committee to say no.

That's how I got into grad school. Someone on the faculty liked my application, despite my bad grades, and they pulled for me.

asdfuogh
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Re: Grad student trade?

Postby asdfuogh » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:32 pm

admissionprof, I don't know if everyone is as professional as you are (or can be, despite attempts) because I can't imagine being able to ignore a key piece of certain knowledge if I have it (meaning, you didn't figure it out by guessing someone's profile). I think it's also possible that people of committees may not tell you truthfully if they look at this website (I don't tell people I reddit, for instance..). In any case, thanks for that inside information, I think it's important to get a different perspective.

Sleeker
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Re: Grad student trade?

Postby Sleeker » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:16 am

admissionprof wrote:By the way, many admissions directors do read this website, and can sometimes identify an applicant (and thus see where else they've applied and the results). But we would never, never, never take any action based on that knowledge. That would be, IMO, highly unethical. I look at the information to get an idea of what stipend levels our competition is paying, and things like that. But even with that, I can't see how any sort of "trade" could ever be worked out.

The fact that I could probably easily be identified by anybody on admission committees at the schools I applied to influenced my decision not to rank my schools by how much I wanted in them. For example, even I, without access to applications, was able to identify another prospective within two hours of meeting that student.

TakeruK
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Re: Grad student trade?

Postby TakeruK » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:22 pm

Agree with Sleeker -- I decided the safest way to list the schools in my profile post (until I made a decision) was in order of application due date. It would be really easy for a prof to identify me through my profile -- Planetary Science is very small and it would just be a matter of matching up undergrad institution and grad year. In general, I am not too concerned since I didn't really include anything that wasn't already on the application, other than maybe the list of schools I applied to. But I don't really think that information could really hurt me, even if someone wasn't completely professional.

I guess I could also be worried that someone may read my other posts on the forum, and if they don't agree with the type of person I am, it could affect my application. But it is very unlikely that profs would spend that much time tracking down their applicants' online presence (looking at a URL included in an application is one thing, but finding and matching up anonymous profiles in an online forum is another!).

Maybe I am naive, but I think adcom members are professional enough to not use "privileged information". After all, these people are professionals, and they do act as peer-reviewers for journals and grant proposals, which also have to be kept confidential. I'm not saying everyone will be perfect about this, but I have confidence in the process! (otherwise we might as well never submit to peer reviewed journals, lest we get our paper rejected and then scooped!)

bfollinprm
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Re: Grad student trade?

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:34 pm

TakeruK wrote:In general, I am not too concerned since I didn't really include anything that wasn't already on the application, other than maybe the list of schools I applied to. But I don't really think that information could really hurt me, even if someone wasn't completely professional.


Agreed. People knew me when I went to visit schools, and I was very upfront about where else i was applying in my applications. it definitely didn't hurt at all; schools who thought I would be a good fit aren't going to worry about whether or not I agree with them, other than to assign a probability of my acceptance of their offer of admission (so they know whether or not to also accept someone else).

I know a student who applied to a school where he explicitly stated in the SOP that he would under no circumstances attend if his girlfriend was not also admitted; his girlfriend was rejected and a month later they sent him the acceptance letter. I talked to a member of the committee about this; the fact that he wouldn't accept the offer had absolutely no bearing on the consideration of the application, though it did cause the school to extend an offer to another student as well (since they knew the chance of the student coming was essentially zero).




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