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Cancelling an interview trip?


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I accepted one school's invitation to interview several weeks ago, and the department bought my tickets, etc. It is next weekend, Feb 21-23. Then in the middle of last week, a school I am much more interested in contacted me about their interview/open house visit on the same weekend. Just over 1 week notice seems pretty bizarre, and I'm assuming somebody else must have backed out on them, but that's another matter.

Anyway, I am considering canceling on the first school and scrambling to arrange the visit to the second, and I'm just wondering what other people think of the general dickness of the move? I suspect the first school can recoup some of their money for the plane tickets, and avoid paying for the hotel and all that. I am fairly convinced at this point that I won't be attending this school, so I'm not sure if it's worse to cancel or to accept their hospitality knowing I'll be elsewhere in the fall.

Furthermore, I already told the other school that I had a conflicting visit, and if I suddenly tell them I can go after all, are they going to assume I'm the kind of asshole who backs out of a commitment at someone else's expense?

Ugh. Somehow I thought the nail-biting would ended when these decisions started rolling in.

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I wonder what the grad schools would do in this situation - probably whatever is best for them, right? ;)

Honestly, if you know you aren't going to attend their program, you might as well let them know. That way, they can at least avoid some of the expense of putting you up for the weekend (for no reason).

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I was in a somewhat similar situation. I had an interview scheduled at my safety school. But once I got into my two top chocies and got interviews at a few others I would strongly consider, I realized going to the interview at the safety school would be a total waste of everyone's time, even though there wasn't a scheduling conflict. My mentor from my undergrad institution said that the best thing to do for everyone was to cancel on the safety school. I sent an email to the professor I was to interview with at the safety school that went like this (my mentor looked over it and said it was just right):

Dear Dr. XXXXX,

Since I last spoke with you I found out that I've been accepted with funding at my two top choice programs. Given this new information, I think there is a slim chance that I would attend XXXXXXX. In the interest of not wasting your time and the program's resources, I think it would be best if I did not come out for an interview. I feel badly about having to cancel on you last minute, but I want to be fair to you, the program, and the other applicants. If there were any costs associated with my visit, I would be happy to cover them. I was very much looking forward to meeting you, and I hope that I will have the opportunity to do so in the future.



The professor emailed me back thanking me for letting him know and wishing me the best of luck. My safety school was not going to cover the cost of the flight, so I didn't have to worry about them recouping any money. But in your case I would STRONGLY suggest that you find a way to pay them back for the flight/hotels/whatever costs they were going to incur on your behalf. You will eventually run into these professors at some point in your career and you don't want to start your graduate career off by having already made a negative impression on people in your field.

With regards to the school you want to attend, I wouldn't worry about what they think of your sudden ability to attend. Just tell them that you were able to move things around in order to attend; they won't care about the details. Best of luck to you!

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All of my POI's who invited me for interviews/visits made it very clear that if I couldn't make the official weekend, I could come another time. Have you asked about this? If I were you, I would sent the POI from the unscheduled-interview-school an email asking if there is any way I could come a different weekend, and not necessarily give a reason as to why. They might say "oh of course that is no problem, how's the weekend after?" in which case you're off the hook. If it's not flexible, then visit the school you'd rather go to, because from what I've heard they usually won't accept you if you don't come to the interview. In any case, this is a good problem to have!

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