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Letting your LOR writers know you are declining offers

Nico Corr

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I applied to three grad programs in IR with the expectation I wouldn't get in my first try, but to my surprise I got in to all three and even got some funding from one school. I was over the moon at first, but since talking to others on this board, and discussing my education plans with a close family friend who is currently in my desired field, I'm starting to reevaluate my decision to even go. This coupled with the fact that I don't think I can pay the deposit, plus tuition for the two prereq econ courses I'd have to take between now and when I start in August makes me think maybe I should decline all my offers and try again next application cycle. I might even want to cast a wider net and see if I can get into some higher ranked programs as well. I'm not sure however how to break this to my LOR writers. Anyone have experience with this? I guess I'm just afraid maybe if I let them know I'm having second thoughts they won't take me seriously If I ask them to write me LORS next time around as well. I'm also thinking about retaking the GRE to get better scores as I've seen people in my field get far superior scores than myself, and am afraid I won't be able to get in next time with them as well. 

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Be honest. It seems as if you don't have second thoughts of continuing your studies; your second thoughts are about having to fund the program yourself (Did you apply for fellowships? Are you looking into only doing a MA?).

You should ask them for their advice about how to improve your record before reapplying. (Just retaking the GRE is not going to cut it.) You will want them to write letters again next year so you want to keep the connection with them. You could even RA for them (sometimes colleges/universities have programs for that) which might improve your letters. 

Edited by MrsPhD
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What are the pre-req econ courses you need? Are there options to take them at a public university or community college, so that the tuition might be more affordable? I guess it's a question of how much time/money you're willing to invest in your future now since there's also a financial and time cost to re-applying in the future. Rather than just breaking the news to your LOR writers, I would ask them for advice about your situation before you make a final decision.

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