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Am I right to be bitter, or just a sore loser?


Hello everyone. I have an interesting situation and I'm wondering if it's commonplace or if I'm right to feel bitter. Here it is:

An individual in the graduate department for a PhD program reached out to my current department, stating that they are seeking more applicants to their program. I contacted her, we had a couple of discussions, and she encouraged me to apply. I also had a couple of conversations with my POI, who encouraged me to apply as well. This was after the program's official application period was complete, by the way, but I assumed I still had a fighting chance, considering it was the department's idea in the first place!

Fast forward, after I've applied and had multiple informal and formal interviews: I'm informed that they had already given out all of their acceptances weeks before (around the time I was being encouraged to apply), and that I'm on the waitlist, if anyone declines.

So essentially, they realized they didn't have enough of a waitlist for comfort, and encouraged me to apply (and spend the $250 application fee!), knowing full well that I had NO chance of being accepted outright- which they didn't tell me. I feel like this was very shady and they should have told me my best case scenario would be the waitlist. I feel purposely misled. 

So, what do you think? Have you heard of this type of behavior before? Is it just how the world works and I should get used to it? Or am I right to feel cheated?

P.S. I was officially informed a week after being wait-listed that they had filled their cohort, if anyone is wondering.

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I have never heard of this and would assume that it's not respectful behavior on that department's part. Can you reach out to ask for a refund for your application fee, on the grounds that your application was never properly reviewed? Would anyone in your current department be happy to side with you on this exchange, since they (presumably) unknowingly helped distribute misleading information? (I know of someone who asked for a refund from a program that essentially did not consider international applications.)

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On 4/15/2019 at 9:06 AM, drunkenduck said:

So, what do you think?


I think that you should ask for a refund after you've spent time managing the way you feel about the outcome. I am saying that your core argument should be that you did not receive complete information about the circumstances of the solicitation for more applications. The thought/feeling behind your argument should NOT be that you were cheated or misled.

This is to say that you bite your tongue in order to get your refund and then you go on with your life. Down the line, if and when you discuss the process described in your OP, you use the coded language of the Ivory Tower: irregularities, miscommunication, and so on.

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You definitely have a right to be angry. I agree with others that you should see if you can make a case for a refund. I had a similar situation with another university that clearly just wanted to extort potential applicants for money.

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