When should one withdraw an application?

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ModusPwnens
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:57 pm

When should one withdraw an application?

Postby ModusPwnens » Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:38 pm

zpedram wrote:So I'm basically tired of waiting for UCSB and Stanford! Do u think it would work against me if I emailed them and asked for my application status? I mean I got accepted into my first-choice school, so I don't "really" care for their results. I just want to know If i were qualified in their point of view as well or not! :D what do you guys think I should do?


AprilMay4 wrote:
Minovsky wrote:Well, zpedram did say that they didn't really care for their results. AprilMay4 does bring up a good point, but the way zpedram described their situation, it does sound like they're just trying to stroke their ego.


True, he did say that. But I mean, I don't except people who have gotten into schools to withdraw applications from schools as amazing as Stanford and UCSB until after at least receiving a decision. I mean, isn't that what we paid so much money to know? And if it were me, (which it could be because I applied to Stanford and they haven't sent out anything yet) I would just want to know because I would always wonder about it. I will most likely get rejected from Stanford, and I will be perfectly fine with that, but I still want to know so that I don't always wonder. My opinion on this would be different say if he had gotten into Princeton and was still wanting to know if he got into say, Greendale Community College or something. That would clearly be ego stroking.


Discussion was a bit off-topic, so new thread.

If zpedram meant what he seems to have been implying - that he has no interest in Stanford or UCSB, but just wants to hear the decision - then he is ego-stroking. The only reason to do this is to have a sense of satisfaction from having been accepted to Stanford, and that's arrogant. I think that it's totally possible that he means something else, though, like he's leaning toward a school to which he's already been accepted, but still would still have a genuine interest in Stanford or UCSB if he were admitted. If this is the case, he should absolutely wait for a decision.

I disagree with you, though, AprilMay, that the reason we paid an application fee is to hear a result - I think you're looking at the process in two wrong ways.

1. Since an applicant can't know a priori which schools will admit them, they hedge by applying to several schools, and thus pay a bunch of application fees. Of course, if someone were to know with certainty that they would be accepted to their top choice, then paying extra application fees would be a waste of money. But if you're lucky enough to get an offer from your top choice and you withdraw your other applications, that money was not wasted - that is the cost of hedging a stochastic process.

2. When you apply, you make a good faith commitment that you are genuinely interested in the program and you give the school a bit of money. In return, the school makes a good faith effort to evaluate your application. But if, at some point, you change your mind and are no longer genuinely interested in a program, you've broken your agreement with the school, so you should withdraw your application so that other applicants who are genuinely interested can be given your spot. Not doing this is equivalent, in my mind, to a school deciding you reject you in February, but not telling you until April. In both cases, one party has broken it's agreement with the other.

Plus, I really don't feel bad for you if you got in to Berkeley. Also, apologies if you are female, zpedram.

blighter
Posts: 256
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:30 pm

Re: When should one withdraw an application?

Postby blighter » Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:15 am

What if Stanford offers him a really generous fellowship?

kangaroo
Posts: 130
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 5:31 am

Re: When should one withdraw an application?

Postby kangaroo » Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:30 am

ModusPwnens wrote:
zpedram wrote:So I'm basically tired of waiting for UCSB and Stanford! Do u think it would work against me if I emailed them and asked for my application status? I mean I got accepted into my first-choice school, so I don't "really" care for their results. I just want to know If i were qualified in their point of view as well or not! :D what do you guys think I should do?


AprilMay4 wrote:
Minovsky wrote:Well, zpedram did say that they didn't really care for their results. AprilMay4 does bring up a good point, but the way zpedram described their situation, it does sound like they're just trying to stroke their ego.


True, he did say that. But I mean, I don't except people who have gotten into schools to withdraw applications from schools as amazing as Stanford and UCSB until after at least receiving a decision. I mean, isn't that what we paid so much money to know? And if it were me, (which it could be because I applied to Stanford and they haven't sent out anything yet) I would just want to know because I would always wonder about it. I will most likely get rejected from Stanford, and I will be perfectly fine with that, but I still want to know so that I don't always wonder. My opinion on this would be different say if he had gotten into Princeton and was still wanting to know if he got into say, Greendale Community College or something. That would clearly be ego stroking.


Discussion was a bit off-topic, so new thread.

If zpedram meant what he seems to have been implying - that he has no interest in Stanford or UCSB, but just wants to hear the decision - then he is ego-stroking. The only reason to do this is to have a sense of satisfaction from having been accepted to Stanford, and that's arrogant. I think that it's totally possible that he means something else, though, like he's leaning toward a school to which he's already been accepted, but still would still have a genuine interest in Stanford or UCSB if he were admitted. If this is the case, he should absolutely wait for a decision.

I disagree with you, though, AprilMay, that the reason we paid an application fee is to hear a result - I think you're looking at the process in two wrong ways.

1. Since an applicant can't know a priori which schools will admit them, they hedge by applying to several schools, and thus pay a bunch of application fees. Of course, if someone were to know with certainty that they would be accepted to their top choice, then paying extra application fees would be a waste of money. But if you're lucky enough to get an offer from your top choice and you withdraw your other applications, that money was not wasted - that is the cost of hedging a stochastic process.

2. When you apply, you make a good faith commitment that you are genuinely interested in the program and you give the school a bit of money. In return, the school makes a good faith effort to evaluate your application. But if, at some point, you change your mind and are no longer genuinely interested in a program, you've broken your agreement with the school, so you should withdraw your application so that other applicants who are genuinely interested can be given your spot. Not doing this is equivalent, in my mind, to a school deciding you reject you in February, but not telling you until April. In both cases, one party has broken it's agreement with the other.

Plus, I really don't feel bad for you if you got in to Berkeley. Also, apologies if you are female, zpedram.


Disagree. The premise is simple: you pay the fee, they evaluate the application. Whatever moralistic/rationalization that you supplanted cannot override that axiom. Is he/she a bit of jerk for wanting to hear back for egoistical reasons? Maybe. But that's well within his rights, and if one wants to respect the meritocracy of the application system, one cannot use social justice/equality reasons just because it becomes more convenient or advantageous to you.

AprilMay4
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:37 pm

Re: When should one withdraw an application?

Postby AprilMay4 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:17 am

I don't think I have thought about the application process in the wrong way at all. I don't know anyone that decided just to pay $125 just for the h*** of it. I mean, I only applied to schools that I would seriously consider going to, which is why I'm having such a hard time deciding myself.

And I also think that this discussion should be based on what school your talking about. As blighter pointed out, what if they did offer him a really generous fellowship? I mean, it's Stanford. No one applies to Stanford if they wouldn't seriously consider going there. At least, I don't believe anyone would. If we were talking about the bottom rung school that he applied to as his safety safety school, then yeah, I agree with the idea of withdrawing your application before it's finished being processed.

But even if someone did apply to Stanford just to find out if they could get in. They just essentially gave Stanford a $125 donation. Why is that an unforgivable thing? They aren't taking anyone's spot in the long run if they did end up getting in and rejecting the offer. That spot would still go to someone on the waiting list. And I'm saying this as a special case for schools like Stanford and Princeton and Berkeley. I'm not sure I even think the action of wanting to know if you could get into those schools is egotistical. In my mind, the action of wanting to know is human nature, especially for a student like me who has worked so hard (like I'm sure we all have) and wants to know if I worked hard enough and am good enough to get it. Don't get me wrong, I'm still considering every school! I just don't see anything wrong with wanting to know.

I will also say though, that I'm not defending what zpedram did. I think asking admissions before they are delivered to us would be inappropriate if he really isn't considering them. I also think that the tone the post was written with was a little insensitive as there are many qualified students that are still waiting to hear from schools.

Summary: I don't agree with his post, but I find nothing wrong with waiting until after you receive a decision from a school like Stanford before withdrawing your application.

Lavabug
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:19 pm

Re: When should one withdraw an application?

Postby Lavabug » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:58 am

kangaroo wrote:Disagree. The premise is simple: you pay the fee, they evaluate the application. Whatever moralistic/rationalization that you supplanted cannot override that axiom. Is he/she a bit of jerk for wanting to hear back for egoistical reasons? Maybe. But that's well within his rights, and if one wants to respect the meritocracy of the application system, one cannot use social justice/equality reasons just because it becomes more convenient or advantageous to you.

The people who are being denied/waitlisted their admission as a consequence also paid the same fee.

Though the analogy might be stretched a bit too far, it is akin to paying for public health insurance and taking advantage of it when you don't really need it, leaving the needy in an uncomfortable position for no other reason than "fun"/bragging rights. That's pretty irresponsible and selfish if you ask me, especially when most schools specifically ask for students to do their fellows a favor and withdraw their applications if they know they're not going. It wastes the university's time too, and even for selfish reasons... as a future academic, is that the impression you want to leave in an academic institution?

AprilMay4 wrote:I don't think I have thought about the application process in the wrong way at all. I don't know anyone that decided just to pay $125 just for the h*** of it. I mean, I only applied to schools that I would seriously consider going to, which is why I'm having such a hard time deciding myself.

And I also think that this discussion should be based on what school your talking about. As blighter pointed out, what if they did offer him a really generous fellowship? I mean, it's Stanford. No one applies to Stanford if they wouldn't seriously consider going there. At least, I don't believe anyone would. If we were talking about the bottom rung school that he applied to as his safety safety school, then yeah, I agree with the idea of withdrawing your application before it's finished being processed.

But even if someone did apply to Stanford just to find out if they could get in. They just essentially gave Stanford a $125 donation. Why is that an unforgivable thing? They aren't taking anyone's spot in the long run if they did end up getting in and rejecting the offer. That spot would still go to someone on the waiting list. And I'm saying this as a special case for schools like Stanford and Princeton and Berkeley. I'm not sure I even think the action of wanting to know if you could get into those schools is egotistical. In my mind, the action of wanting to know is human nature, especially for a student like me who has worked so hard (like I'm sure we all have) and wants to know if I worked hard enough and am good enough to get it. Don't get me wrong, I'm still considering every school! I just don't see anything wrong with wanting to know.

I will also say though, that I'm not defending what zpedram did. I think asking admissions before they are delivered to us would be inappropriate if he really isn't considering them. I also think that the tone the post was written with was a little insensitive as there are many qualified students that are still waiting to hear from schools.

Summary: I don't agree with his post, but I find nothing wrong with waiting until after you receive a decision from a school like Stanford before withdrawing your application.

I think you missed the point. No one is arguing against waiting to see if one receives a better offer. I think we're all considering the situation where one already has the best offer they could hope for and in where any other admission would not make them have second thoughts about choosing their school, irrespective of their caliber.

quantum_fan
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:30 pm

Re: When should one withdraw an application?

Postby quantum_fan » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:08 am

AprilMay4 wrote:I'm not sure I even think the action of wanting to know if you could get into those schools is egotistical. In my mind, the action of wanting to know is human nature, especially for a student like me who has worked so hard (like I'm sure we all have) and wants to know if I worked hard enough and am good enough to get it. Don't get me wrong, I'm still considering every school! I just don't see anything wrong with wanting to know.


I can definitely identify with this sentiment, but it's often true (and not just rhetoric from the department) that many more people are qualified for admission and prepared for success at an institution than they can possibly make offers to. I think admissionprof has confirmed this either recently or in the past. Moreover, even if you are one of the best qualified candidates, the research group that you expressed interest in may not be taking any new students this year. Or maybe they're just taking significantly less than another area of the department, so you don't get in due to the interests you expressed in your statement of purpose. In this sense, not all acceptances to the department are equal. There are just so many circumstances that affect your admission other than your own qualifications that being accepted or not is not a very reliable indicator of being "good enough" to be physics grad at school x.

I agree with you that most of us probably do want to know if we would get in, but I'm not sure how we can justify that when acceptance is so heavily dependent on the current state (funding, spread of students among areas, professors on leave, etc) of the department.

bschroe
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:33 pm

Re: When should one withdraw an application?

Postby bschroe » Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:45 am

blighter wrote:What if Stanford offers him a really generous fellowship?


Exactly. When we talk "top choice", we're usually implying all other costs equal. If Stanford is going to pay me $50k + cost of living (we're talking hypotheticals--go big or go home), then hell yes I'm going to choose them, even if I'm absolutely in love with Berkeley.

As a more realistic example, I felt kind of the same when I got my Ohio State acceptance (thinking where I have a realistic shot), but now that I have my TAMU offer and have looked more closely, I'm not so sure anymore.

kangaroo
Posts: 130
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 5:31 am

Re: When should one withdraw an application?

Postby kangaroo » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:53 pm

Lavabug wrote:
kangaroo wrote:Disagree. The premise is simple: you pay the fee, they evaluate the application. Whatever moralistic/rationalization that you supplanted cannot override that axiom. Is he/she a bit of jerk for wanting to hear back for egoistical reasons? Maybe. But that's well within his rights, and if one wants to respect the meritocracy of the application system, one cannot use social justice/equality reasons just because it becomes more convenient or advantageous to you.

The people who are being denied/waitlisted their admission as a consequence also paid the same fee.

Though the analogy might be stretched a bit too far, it is akin to paying for public health insurance and taking advantage of it when you don't really need it, leaving the needy in an uncomfortable position for no other reason than "fun"/bragging rights. That's pretty irresponsible and selfish if you ask me, especially when most schools specifically ask for students to do their fellows a favor and withdraw their applications if they know they're not going. It wastes the university's time too, and even for selfish reasons... as a future academic, is that the impression you want to leave in an academic institution?

AprilMay4 wrote:I don't think I have thought about the application process in the wrong way at all. I don't know anyone that decided just to pay $125 just for the h*** of it. I mean, I only applied to schools that I would seriously consider going to, which is why I'm having such a hard time deciding myself.

And I also think that this discussion should be based on what school your talking about. As blighter pointed out, what if they did offer him a really generous fellowship? I mean, it's Stanford. No one applies to Stanford if they wouldn't seriously consider going there. At least, I don't believe anyone would. If we were talking about the bottom rung school that he applied to as his safety safety school, then yeah, I agree with the idea of withdrawing your application before it's finished being processed.

But even if someone did apply to Stanford just to find out if they could get in. They just essentially gave Stanford a $125 donation. Why is that an unforgivable thing? They aren't taking anyone's spot in the long run if they did end up getting in and rejecting the offer. That spot would still go to someone on the waiting list. And I'm saying this as a special case for schools like Stanford and Princeton and Berkeley. I'm not sure I even think the action of wanting to know if you could get into those schools is egotistical. In my mind, the action of wanting to know is human nature, especially for a student like me who has worked so hard (like I'm sure we all have) and wants to know if I worked hard enough and am good enough to get it. Don't get me wrong, I'm still considering every school! I just don't see anything wrong with wanting to know.

I will also say though, that I'm not defending what zpedram did. I think asking admissions before they are delivered to us would be inappropriate if he really isn't considering them. I also think that the tone the post was written with was a little insensitive as there are many qualified students that are still waiting to hear from schools.

Summary: I don't agree with his post, but I find nothing wrong with waiting until after you receive a decision from a school like Stanford before withdrawing your application.

I think you missed the point. No one is arguing against waiting to see if one receives a better offer. I think we're all considering the situation where one already has the best offer they could hope for and in where any other admission would not make them have second thoughts about choosing their school, irrespective of their caliber.


Again disagree. Withdrawing early is a gesture of goodwill, but no one (the school or waitlisted applicants) are entitled to it. Everyone who is part of the application process, both the school and the applicants, tacitly knows that the only rule of the game is submit an app, pay the fee, application gets evaluated, decision is sent by April 15. Especially as an academic, I would expect no one to continuously deform the gesture of goodwill into an act of self entitlement, which you have did there. And especially as an academic institution, I expect nothing less than professionalism. If an applicant does not break the rules of the application contract, no one on all sides should feel offended. Be grateful for any goodwill gestures, but stop hankering after them like you're entitled to them (this applies to both schools and applicants). If you really wanted to get into the school, you should have boosted your credentials. Simple as that.

And you analogy of the fee to public insurance is way off. You pay money for health insurance for resources of the healthcare system, and those resources should indeed be appropriated in some ideal, fair manner. However, the application fee only buys you a chance of getting your application evaluated, nothing more. That fee does not entitle you to anything else, and definitely not fairness from other applicants who have gotten offers. The application system is meritocratic and obviously inherently unfair, the best gets the options. Whether they are douchebags is a completely separate matter, but they are allowed to be by the tacit application contract. You can always ask nicely and appeal to their sense of decency, but the line is crossed when you start demanding it of them, berating them, chastising them.

Lavabug
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:19 pm

Re: When should one withdraw an application?

Postby Lavabug » Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:58 pm

I don't think I have espoused a sense of self-entitlement by asking, albeit with a bit of humorous aggression, for people to be more considerate of others in their same situation. A little bit of empathy for peers makes the world a better place. I haven't asked for the rules of the game to be bent in my favor.
kangaroo wrote:[
If you really wanted to get into the school, you should have boosted your credentials. Simple as that.

At this stage, aren't we all past that? I'm sure everyone has done their best here and like it has been stated , the fact that one is qualified doesn't guarantee admission because sometimes there just isn't enough funding for everyone. No one's asking anyone to give up their hard-won admission earlier than they want to, just to make other people's job easier and ease the stress off other allegedly qualified (and therefore waitlisted) applicants if they already have made up their mind.

And I brought up the analogy with health insurance because it's something I have experienced myself. My country has a history of some people abusing the health system and some other public services. Now everyone has to pay the consequences, leaving people who can't afford it in really dire situations (long waitlists, reduced coverage...). But that's another matter, and grad school is obviously not life-or-death, hence I warned it may be stretching it too far.

Also, according to some academics I know are involved in selecting phd candidates, the selection process is not purely meritocratic, and that explains why people without perfect grades or GRE's get into very good schools every now and then. They aim to admit students they think would be happy at their institution, quite literally they said they don't want to admit someone who thinks they're too good for their school and feels like they should've gotten admitted at a better school. They also value other factors such as how badly does the student want to be a researcher, because if it's someone that can "afford to go back to their previous job", they won't have the same incentive to be as productive as someone who's putting all his eggs in one basket for an academic career, irrespective of grades. Their words, not mine, and these are people from a top 10 UK uni (and both did PhD's in the US).

I wonder if it has ever reached the point where departments have ever come short of the number of enrollments they were expecting because of people waiting until the last minute to decline an offer (or not responding at all). Don't most departments in the US have deadlines in order to request funding for assistants? I've seen a few admissions from waitlists well into May and June here and at gradcafé, but I'm not sure if they were just reported late or if they actually got an email then.

goingnuclear
Posts: 26
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Re: When should one withdraw an application?

Postby goingnuclear » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:18 pm

This argument has been beaten to death, when really the answer is straightforward. Technically you can wait as long as you'd like (until the given deadline at least) to turn down a school, but you're forgetting a key point...

You're being a douchebag.

By waiting until the last minute to respond to a school which you have mentally rejected already, you're wasting the school's time and efforts on your application and, more importantly, you're wasting the time of waitlisted students. While you may not care about that school beyond egotistical reasons, there's people on the waiting list checking their email 10 times a day and literally losing sleep, because hearing from that school is the most important thing in the world to them. It's like realizing you don't want any groceries, and then watching the bagger pack everything up before telling him you changed your mind. You're being a dick to not only the bagger, but everyone else in line behind you.

Technically it is your right to not tell them until the given deadline. Just like how "technically" you don't have to leave a tip at a restaurant. Or how you "technically" don't have to hold a door open for someone in a wheel chair. If this is how you think then I feel sorry for you, and fear for how you'll do in society. Your argument is based on the fact that you paid an application fee and are thus "entitled" to taking as long as you'd like, and yeah you're "technically" correct. But you're also a dick.

Please, don't be a dick.

TakeruK
Posts: 816
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: When should one withdraw an application?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:26 pm

I also want to point out that some programs do not have waitlists. I know my program made offers to X students and they are hoping X/2 of them will accept the offers. If more than X/2 accept, then they will balance it out by making less offers next year. If less than X/2 accept, then they will probably make more offers the following year. The averages work out well across the entire department, but for a specific option, this results in somewhat varying matriculation numbers -- in some years, everyone declined their offers so we had zero new students.

I agree that one has done nothing technically wrong by playing according to the rules of the "game". Sure, you are allowed to wait until April 15 to make any decision. Yes, it is a gesture of goodwill for someone to withdraw an application to a school they don't want early. But sometimes there is a large divide between doing what is right / good for the community as a whole vs. doing what you're allowed to / entitled to. And I think it's probably disadvantageous in the long run to try to exercise/utilize every single right you have.

The generous timelines (e.g. April 15 deadline) etc. are there for our collective advantage. It prevents a grad school from forcing a student to decide early in order to prevent them from seeing a better offer at another school. This is win-win for both applicant and schools. But I think this system will break if everyone literally decided until April 15 to make a decision. There needs to be some balance where people who have decided early can be responsible and inform the schools accordingly. This allows people who are seriously considering two different schools to not feel the pressure in order to truly make the choice that is right for them.

So, it's unfair to assume someone is just "collecting" offers just because they got into one top choice but haven't accepted it yet. But it's also "wrong", in my opinion, for people to purposely hold onto offers that they have no intention of accepting. Similarly, it's also wrong for someone to have received all the offers by, say, March 1, but decide to severely procrastinate on making a decision. I think this is basically purposely avoiding responsibility and while it's not "illegal" or "against the rules", it doesn't make it okay. This will apply to other parts of academia -- imagine how much worse the peer review process would be if journals gave their reviewers many many months to submit a review (in order to be flexible for busy profs) but then every referee took advantage of this and waited until the last possible moment to submit their review. The world would be a better place if people didn't abuse their privileges, in general. Because if they do, then the rules will have to change to be much more strict.

The bottom line is that real life should not be a competitive "game" where you just simply play by the rules and try to do the best you can. In a board game or a sport, there are usually very finely balanced and defined rules to prevent abuse. Since it's a competition, players are expected to take full advantage of the rules in order to win. I don't think one should approach life in this way. Many rules, especially in academia, are flexible and they are there for our convenience. If everyone tries to "game" the system, the rules will get much more strict and we'll be worse off overall.

astroprof
Posts: 95
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Re: When should one withdraw an application?

Postby astroprof » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:11 pm

Lavabug wrote: I wonder if it has ever reached the point where departments have ever come short of the number of enrollments they were expecting because of people waiting until the last minute to decline an offer (or not responding at all).


Yes, this does happen. Most programs make more offers of admission than they expect to have in their entering class (overcommits), but we cannot predict who will accept our offers in advance. Occasionally, we underestimate or overestimate the yield for a particular class and must scramble at the last minute. If too many students wait to tell us of their decision until April 15, then we are left with too much uncertainty and cannot inform the students on the waitlist of their status in a timely manner. This is a bad situation for both applicants and the department. Further, this is much more of an issue for Astronomy Departments, where the entering class may only be a few people and +/- 1 is a large statistical fluctuation. Larger programs (Physics) can be correspondingly more flexible in their required yield.

There are some common misconceptions about the admission process that are posted in this forum every year. One of which is the significance of April 15. The Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants of the Council of Graduate Schools is an agreement by US Graduate programs to allow students to have until April 15 to accept an offer of financial support. This agreement does not require schools to notify applicants of their status prior to April 15, although it is certainly in the school's interest to do so since the majority of strong applicants will have already committed to another institution by that date. If you are on a wait list, it is entirely appropriate to contact the department prior to April 15 to see if your status has changed, but the department may not be able to offer you admission until after April 15. Some programs are still admitting students up until the day classes start in the Fall.

So, while some forum members will confidently state that "the admission season is over" as early as this month, the reality for most applicants is that the process will continue for many more weeks, and possibly many more months. To ease the angst of your fellow students, I do urge you to make decisions in a responsible, timely manner. This includes narrowing your choices down to just a few schools by April 1, and notifying any school that you have decided against as soon as you have reached that decision. Acting in a responsible manner will help your fellow students, and set the stage for good relationships with faculty at those institutions in your future career.




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