Proper manners for accepting admission?

  • 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.

Galois2199
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Nov 29, 2013 11:20 pm

Proper manners for accepting admission?

Postby Galois2199 » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:47 pm

As far as I know, schools offer admissions anywhere from late January to late April; perhaps even later. In the case of early admissions offers, how does one go about not accepting the offer until they've been rejected from all their top choices? For example, I had one school indicate there may be a rough deadline to accept admission in about a month or so...but what if I haven't heard back from my other schools by then? What's the most respectful conduct here? I've heard it's in very poor taste to accept an offer and then later turn it down when a better comes along. But maybe not.

Thanks for any advice! And good luck to all!

catharsis
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:45 am

Re: Proper manners for accepting admission?

Postby catharsis » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:01 am

Galois2199 wrote:As far as I know, schools offer admissions anywhere from late January to late April; perhaps even later. In the case of early admissions offers, how does one go about not accepting the offer until they've been rejected from all their top choices? For example, I had one school indicate there may be a rough deadline to accept admission in about a month or so...but what if I haven't heard back from my other schools by then? What's the most respectful conduct here? I've heard it's in very poor taste to accept an offer and then later turn it down when a better comes along. But maybe not.

Thanks for any advice! And good luck to all!


Congrats on your offer(s)! From what I understand, if the institution is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and supported the "Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees and Assistants," you have no obligation to make an official decision before April 15th. Unfortunately if you get decisions after April 15th, you're sort of SOL, but I get the feeling that it's a rare occurrence.

I would get in contact with whoever has been in communication with you and let them know you're excited about the offer but are waiting to hear back from a few more places before making a final decision, and ask by when that decision needs to be made. They all know that you're in that position, so it's a common and decent question to ask. I would avoid accepting any offers before you know for sure you're attending; it's better to inquire about to your application status at the other schools first (where your decision is pending).

TakeruK
Posts: 812
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Proper manners for accepting admission?

Postby TakeruK » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:35 pm

See this link for the full text on the CGS Resolution mentioned above https://www.cgsnet.org/ckfinder/userfil ... lution.pdf

It is important to remember:

1. This is true only for schools that is on this list, that is, most US graduate programs. Canadian ones, for example, are not bound by this but I know some programs (e.g. UBC and Toronto) will go by the April 15 rule since many people applying to these schools also apply to US schools. If the CGS resolution applies to you, the offer letter should mention it and give a link to the above PDF.

2. This is only for financial support offers, not admission offers. So, an unfunded Masters program will not always give you until April 15th. Most PhD programs are funded so this point isn't as important. However, it is possible that a funded PhD program can make you respond to an offer of admission before making an financial offer, but that's rare.

3. There is absolutely no penalty at all for a school to break this resolution, and there is no enforcement, as far as I know. So, you might still be pressured into making a decision!

---

To answer your specific case, the best thing to do is to first think about your options carefully. You might not need to hear back from every single school before you make a final choice, especially if the last schools to respond are at the bottom of your list. So as the deadline approaches, first decide if you already have all the information to make a decision. If you do, then go and make it. Don't procrastinate just because you have until April 15th. A lot of people are waiting on top applicants turning down offers.

However, I am not saying you should rush yourself into a bad decision either. If the 1 month deadline approaches and you have not heard back from schools you are still interested in (or if you want to wait until you visit all the schools you are interested in first), then I would contact the other schools and politely ask about their approximate timeline for decision. Mention that another school wants a response by date X so you would like to know their estimated decision date so that you can ask for an appropriate extension from your first school. Do this about 2 weeks before the deadline.

After you hear back from the other schools, contact the first school and explain politely that you are interested in other schools and that they told you a decision will be made by about Date X. Ask for an extension on your decision deadline to be a week or two past the last date. In my opinion, to be professional, you should always request a specific length of time when requesting an extension, not just a general "give me more time please". Do this about 1 week before the deadline. If you don't hear back from all the other schools before you have to send this email, make an educated guess based on GradCafe's "Results" postings or from "profile threads" on this forum! For many programs, they don't get around to sending out rejections until later in February/early March, so I would actually say no news is probably bad news once the above sources show people have already received offers.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Proper manners for accepting admission?

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:19 pm

My reponse to these questions is that you should always keep schools which have admitted you as up-to-date on your thoughts as possible, as it helps them plan their second wave of admissions.

For instance, if you got into school X, but are waiting on school Y, I would write to X telling them that. If you got into school X and also school Z, and think you prefer Z, I'd write to school X telling them about Z's offer, what excites you about X, why you prefer Z, and ask for extra goodies from X--ask if you can have a conversation with professors at X about details of their research group (funding, what projects are open); ask if they have ability to increase their monetary offer to match Z's, etc. If you got into school X and you're super excited--let them know that too.

In other words, don't make a decision before April 15 unless you're absolutely sure (which usually means you've visited every school you have a chance of going to), but keep schools abreast of the evolving probability of you accepting their offer. Once you've been accepted, being honest with your opinions won't hurt you--schools know they're not everyone's top choice--but it will help the school plan, and will let them be more proactive in delivering the second wave of offers.

Schools mostly don't wait for a hard no before they move on. They can easily handle an extra student or two in one year, so when it becomes likely you won't come, they'll offer to the next person on the waitlist, and consider you enrolling a fortunate bonus. They can't do this if you're purposefully keeping them in the dark.

nik
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Nov 09, 2013 7:10 pm

Re: Proper manners for accepting admission?

Postby nik » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:13 pm

Hi... I ask you guys, specially bfollinprm and TakeruK to give me some suggestion/help/idea. Just for your info., I also read this thread: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5405

1. If you search the grad cafe for "Physics Pittsburgh", you can see a guy wrote:

email to notify of message that "The admission committee is hard a work reviewing materials" ... and they "expect to have a decision for you within the next two weeks, if not sooner". it seems they're doing a little bit of fishing for people who already have better offers.


I was luckily accepted to U-Pitt but then U-Oklahoma wrote to me:

We are in the process of making offers for our program in Physics and Astronomy PhD program. Our offer is a graduate teaching assistantship (stipend) with full tuition waiver and a health plan.

Are you interested? Please reply to this email.

If you are interested, I will send you a formal offer.


Apparently, they are really fishing. Why is it like this? Is it common every year or only to this year?

2. Someone wrote in Facebook that he talked to 4 professors in 4 UC's (Berk, Davis, & 2 others) and they all said that this year the fund is very low. Is that apparently true? Only for the UC's or for all US-schools?

3. Many people here and also in the grad cafe pointed out that this year the admission processing started much earlier than other years. Can I predict that the fund is really very low this year and they want to give some early offers so that some will withdraw/decline and they can select some wait-listed candidates?

4. In the grad cafe, recently I saw many many posts where people are literally 'begging' others to decline offers if they don't want to attend. I also saw few similar posts in this forum. Is it usual (i mean like early years) or is it something new?

5. Finally, when I saw the "profiles and app. result" thread of early years, I found many people has really withdrawn or declined the offers they do not want to attend. But this year, I didn't see many people have done this. Specially I saw some profiles who are accepted in ~8 top-12 schools, and perhaps holding all the positions. Usually, around what time is it likely that the high-profilers will make some rooms for the "fallen leaves"? beginning March, mid-March, end-of-March... or do we have to wait till 15 April when the unaccepted offers are auto-declined?
Last edited by nik on Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Arbitrary
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:05 am

Re: Proper manners for accepting admission?

Postby Arbitrary » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:30 pm

nik wrote:5. Finally, when I saw the "profiles and app. result" thread of early years, I found many people has really withdrawn or declined the offers they do not want to attend. But this year, I didn't see many people have done this. Specially I saw some profiles who are accepted in ~8 top-12 schools, and perhaps holding all the positions. Usually, around what time is it likely that the high-profilers will make some rooms for the "fallen leaves"? beginning March, mid-March, end-of-March... or do we have to wait till 15 April when the unaccepted offers are auto-declined?


As far as I understand, most of the top 10 programs (perhaps apart from UCSB) have already sent all their offers and waitlist prompts. I wouldn't count on there being any room left after the high profilers choose which school they want to attend. For now, you may want to decline the offers you are certain you don't want to accept. This may help some poor person who depends on it.

TakeruK
Posts: 812
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Proper manners for accepting admission?

Postby TakeruK » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:45 pm

nik wrote:1. If you search the grad cafe for "Physics Pittsburgh", you can see a guy wrote:

email to notify of message that "The admission committee is hard a work reviewing materials" ... and they "expect to have a decision for you within the next two weeks, if not sooner". it seems they're doing a little bit of fishing for people who already have better offers.


I was luckily accepted to U-Pitt but then U-Oklahoma wrote to me:

We are in the process of making offers for our program in Physics and Astronomy PhD program. Our offer is a graduate teaching assistantship (stipend) with full tuition waiver and a health plan.

Are you interested? Please reply to this email.

If you are interested, I will send you a formal offer.


Apparently, they are really fishing. Why is it like this? Is it common every year or only to this year?



I think they just want to check if you are still interested before they even bother sending you an offer. It might be that this school is a common safety school for many candidates who will accept offers from higher ranking schools. So, if these candidates already got into more preferred (to them) schools, they might no longer be interested in U-Oklahoma. For U-Oklahoma, if they make an offer to someone who got into a better school and that person just sits on their offer and waits until April 15 to decline it, then they are stuck with a position/offer they can't go back on. So, they are asking you to make sure you are still legitimately interested in the position before they waste an offer on someone who isn't going to attend. I think this is a good practice because usually a direct question like that will prevent people who have very little intention to attend U-Oklahoma to say yes and take up an offer.

(Also, some schools have limited nominations for fellowships and if they nominate someone who isn't going to attend, they don't get to renominate someone else--they just lose that spot!)

Therefore, for you and for others in your position, I would say that this is the time to think about what offers you might already have and how seriously you would consider an offer from U-Oklahoma. If you have offers from places you are sure you want to attend more, then you should thank U-Oklahoma for their time and say that you are no longer interested. But if you are still legitimately interested in U-Oklahoma (i.e. no other offers elsewhere), then you should go ahead and say that you are still interested in hearing their offer.

2. Someone wrote in Facebook that he talked to 4 professors in 4 UC's (Berk, Davis, & ...) and they all said that this year the fund is very low. (apparently,) Is that true?


In my program, we admitted fewer students than normal this year (4 offers made instead of the usual 8-10). The professors said this is a combination of both 1) we are unsure of the future of federal funding (NASA and NSF) especially due to the recent instabilities in the government and 2) the last two years have had over 75% of the admitted people attending so the total grad student population is fairly large right now. Ultimately, even though they have funding this year, they want to make sure that there exists enough funds to pay for all grad students for all years!

Also, from talking to many professors, the UC schools tend to have low funds anyways (as with most public schools). At the last election, there was a referendum for raising taxes to help increase funds for the UC schools, and it passed so that is good. But there is still a potential of closing the Lick Observatory, which is an important UC resource!

3. Many people here and also in the grad cafe pointed out that this year the admission processing started much earlier than other years. Can I predict that the fund is really very low this year and they want to give some early offers so that some will withdraw/decline and they can select some wait-listed candidates?


At my program, the timing has been exactly the same. I don't know how funds for all schools across the nation are doing and I don't think very many people know. But, I can see this year being a little bit less ideal than other years due to the government shutdowns and budget issues that has happened in the last year. Many programs should have some kind of backup/reserve fund so that these types of events don't have as much of an effect (i.e. average out over time) but some schools have more resources than others.

I don't think it's particularly useful or practical to try to predict anything based on this kind of information though.

4. In the grad cafe, recently I saw many many posts where people are literally 'begging' others to decline offers if they don't want to attend. I also saw few similar posts in this forum. Is it usual (i mean like early years) or is it something new?


I have seen these kinds of threads every year so I don't think this year is dramatically different from the past.

5. Finally, when I saw the "profiles and app. result" thread of early years, I found many people has really withdrawn or declined the offers they do not want to attend. But this year, I didn't see many people have done this. Specially I saw some profiles who are accepted in ~8 top-12 schools, and perhaps holding all the positions. Usually, around what time is it likely that the high-profilers will make some rooms for the "fallen leaves"? beginning March, mid-March, end-of-March... or do we have to wait till 15 April when the unaccepted offers are auto-declined?


I think it's still too early for a lot of people to decline offers. I think that most people cannot really make decisions until they have visited the schools. The visit season is usually from mid-February to mid-March, and you will see more declines once people have visited a few schools and determined their top X choices. In my year, my last open house was something like March 9 and I took a week or two afterwards to decide. I know some people at top programs who waited until April though. However, for these people, they generally did narrow it down to 2 or 3 schools and declined the rest by late March.

Finally, I do agree with the above poster that at this point, most top programs are finished with admissions. At this time last year, all but one of my programs had gave me their decision (and the last one was because they did interviews in late February). I know that my current program does not do waitlists or more than one wave of admission--they make one set of offers in late January. Some years we get everyone attending and some years we get zero. It might still happen, but I think that at this point, if you were still hoping for a top school, it would be wise to start thinking of alternate plans (don't give up yet, but start the process of thinking about your second set of preferences so that you are ready to make a decision when you finally get all of the information).

(You can find out whether or not you're likely to hear from other schools and/or if schools have made offers yet by looking at the Results Search at thegradcafe.com. From previous years, you can see if they tend to accept in waves or not. For top programs that do interviews, usually seeing interviews pop up but not getting one yourself means that you are rejected--all of the programs that rejected me had interviews but I was not invited to any of them!)

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Proper manners for accepting admission?

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:59 pm

nik wrote:Hi... I ask you guys, specially bfollinprm and TakeruK to give me some suggestion/help/idea. Just for your info., I also read this thread: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5405

1. If you search the grad cafe for "Physics Pittsburgh", you can see a guy wrote:

email to notify of message that "The admission committee is hard a work reviewing materials" ... and they "expect to have a decision for you within the next two weeks, if not sooner". it seems they're doing a little bit of fishing for people who already have better offers.


I was luckily accepted to U-Pitt but then U-Oklahoma wrote to me:

We are in the process of making offers for our program in Physics and Astronomy PhD program. Our offer is a graduate teaching assistantship (stipend) with full tuition waiver and a health plan.

Are you interested? Please reply to this email.

If you are interested, I will send you a formal offer.


Apparently, they are really fishing. Why is it like this? Is it common every year or only to this year?


I'm with TakeruK on this one.


2. Someone wrote in Facebook that he talked to 4 professors in 4 UC's (Berk, Davis, & 2 others) and they all said that this year the fund is very low. Is that apparently true? Only for the UC's or for all US-schools?


I'm pretty sure Davis was smaller than usual but because of some one-time issues: too big of a first year class last time around (30-40% too large) and a change in how international student tuition is paid by the school, which has put some short-term strain on the department budget.


3. Many people here and also in the grad cafe pointed out that this year the admission processing started much earlier than other years. Can I predict that the fund is really very low this year and they want to give some early offers so that some will withdraw/decline and they can select some wait-listed candidates?


I doubt there's enough information here to validate any hypothesis.

4. In the grad cafe, recently I saw many many posts where people are literally 'begging' others to decline offers if they don't want to attend. I also saw few similar posts in this forum. Is it usual (i mean like early years) or is it something new?


Yes, it's usual. And it's good form to reject offers the moment you know you aren't interested.


5. Finally, when I saw the "profiles and app. result" thread of early years, I found many people has really withdrawn or declined the offers they do not want to attend. But this year, I didn't see many people have done this. Specially I saw some profiles who are accepted in ~8 top-12 schools, and perhaps holding all the positions. Usually, around what time is it likely that the high-profilers will make some rooms for the "fallen leaves"? beginning March, mid-March, end-of-March... or do we have to wait till 15 April when the unaccepted offers are auto-declined?


People normally wait until after the open houses, which have just started. Some wait until the last minute, but it's bad form. If there is a school you're waiting on by the middle of next month, I'd send them an email to see where you stand.




Return to “Prospective Physics Graduate Student Topics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest