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School threatened to revoke admissions offer!


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So as you know April 15th is the official deadline for decisions on funded offers.

One of the schools that admitted me emailed a few days ago asking me to decide by then, or sooner if possible because they had people on the wait list. Fair enough.

Today, I got an email that said the following:

Since we haven't heard back from you, we are assuming that you have decided to attend another program and we are going to admit someone from the waiting list who is also interested in working with [your POI]. If our assumption is incorrect, you need to reply to me immediately since we cannot wait until April 15 to make offers to recruits who are on our waiting list.

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

I mean...is this even legal, if they belong to the Graduate Council and have agreed on the April 15th deadline? What is the point of having an official deadline if they are randomly going to move it up two days and demand that I decide RIGHT THIS MOMENT? What if I was in the hospital, having been hit by a bus, and didn't respond in time as a result?

I was planning on turning them down anyway but wanted to use all the time available so that I could be as sure as possible about my decision. I feel like that is my right to do since I am deciding my fate for the next five years.

Either way, I wrote a polite note back declining the admissions offer, but the more I think about it the more pissed off I am. To top it off, this is not the first time I've dealt with puzzling and somewhat hostile behavior from this administrator, but I was willing to write off the first incident because they were nice to me in person.

However this does make me feel a MILLION times better about my decision NOT to attend their program! Their funding sucked anyway!

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So as you know April 15th is the official deadline for decisions on funded offers.

One of the schools that admitted me emailed a few days ago asking me to decide by then, or sooner if possible because they had people on the wait list. Fair enough.

Today, I got an email that said the following:

Since we haven't heard back from you, we are assuming that you have decided to attend another program and we are going to admit someone from the waiting list who is also interested in working with [your POI]. If our assumption is incorrect, you need to reply to me immediately since we cannot wait until April 15 to make offers to recruits who are on our waiting list.

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

I mean...is this even legal, if they belong to the Graduate Council and have agreed on the April 15th deadline? What is the point of having an official deadline if they are randomly going to move it up two days and demand that I decide RIGHT THIS MOMENT? What if I was in the hospital, having been hit by a bus, and didn't respond in time as a result?

I was planning on turning them down anyway but wanted to use all the time available so that I could be as sure as possible about my decision. I feel like that is my right to do since I am deciding my fate for the next five years.

Either way, I wrote a polite note back declining the admissions offer, but the more I think about it the more pissed off I am. To top it off, this is not the first time I've dealt with puzzling and somewhat hostile behavior from this administrator, but I was willing to write off the first incident because they were nice to me in person.

However this does make me feel a MILLION times better about my decision NOT to attend their program! Their funding sucked anyway!

Wow, just, wow. I would be a little pissed, but I would probably just feel better about not going there.

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I totally disagree with you, LadyL. you treat your acceptance as property, as if its something you own that you can do whatever you'd like with. the reality is that, by sitting on an offer that you know you will reject, you are making life worse for a number of people on the waitlist. so, sure, it's your "right" not to inform the school of your decision just like its my "right" not to be kind to strangers, not to donate to charity, or to throw food and goods away instead of donating them, etc.

the note you received is definitely a little terse, but i think you should consider the positions of others (the department, students on the waitlist) on not just your own fancy in this situation.

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the reality is that, by sitting on an offer that you know you will reject, you are making life worse for a number of people on the waitlist. so, sure, it's your "right" not to inform the school of your decision just like its my "right" not to be kind to strangers, not to donate to charity, or to throw food and goods away instead of donating them, etc.

I've been rejected off waitlists twice in past admission cycles, so I know what that is like. That doesn't change the fact that deadlines are in place to protect applicants from being forced into earlier decisions, when they themselves might be waiting for wait list decisions. Comparing me *following the deadline* with being mean to strangers is taking it a bit far, IMHO. Until the last few days, I was waiting to hear from one other program (now I have given up) so I had my reasons for delaying.

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That the school isn't sticking by its deadline -- and just e-mailed to tell you -- is scary! I worried about that, but confirmed with my schools that their deadlines are later on. Personally, I have a major financial decision to make (both schools are my "dream" schools, per se, but would affect my life in very different ways), and where I attend depends on what I can figure out for my next year or two, given each school's offer. I wish the best for wait listed folks, but schools need to stick to their deadlines for everyone's sake, so we all know what to expect.

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I mean...is this even legal, if they belong to the Graduate Council and have agreed on the April 15th deadline? What is the point of having an official deadline if they are randomly going to move it up two days and demand that I decide RIGHT THIS MOMENT? What if I was in the hospital, having been hit by a bus, and didn't respond in time as a result?

RE Legality -- Yes, it's perfectly legal. The Council of Graduate Schools' April 15 deadline is nothing more than a "gentlemen's agreement" among schools. You, the student, are simply a third party who benefits from the agreement. You're not really a signatory to the agreement, so you don't really have any standing to challenge the agreement.

Just thought I'd add my opinion on that since the legality issue seems to come up frequently in these discussions.

Best wishes.

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The CGS resolution given at http://www.cgsnet.or..._Resolution.pdf clearly states "Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution." So (if the school in question is a signatory of the resolution) I think you should definitely report this matter to the CGS.

The CGS resolution is more than just a "gentlemen's agreement" among schools.

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Scary! I got an offer while I was away for spring break and did not reply for a little over a week, and the department ended up calling my house because they didn't understand why I hadn't replied to their email. I guess they just wanted to make sure it hadn't been sent to the wrong address or something. If they had "assumed" that my non-response meant I wasn't interested, I'd have been screwed just for having taken a well-deserved vacation!

As for waiting until April 15th to decide, that is your right. It may be a tad inconsiderate towards those on the wait list to take one's time deciding, but at the end of the day the offer is yours to take or decline, and you have until that date. A wait list is just that - a wait list, and being put on one is a privilege. Being on a wait list does not mean being conditionally accepted - it means that if the people they have selected end up not taking the offers, you may be reconsidered for admission. I understand the frustration, but deciding which program to attend isn't quite as simple for many people as it may seem during the application process. There are a number of factors to be considered and sometimes it really is necessary for a person to use all the time he or she is given!

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The CGS resolution is more than just a "gentlemen's agreement" among schools.

Actually that's exactly what it is, and there would be no legal repercussions if the school violated their agreement. The most that would happen would be that the school could be kicked out by the CGS which, while embarrassing, would not affect the school in a direct way. Schools are not required to participate in the CGS. For example, my undergrad school (a lesser known state university)is not on the list and that has not prevented them from having a thriving graduate program.

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Apparently it's true that it's just a "gentlement's agreement". On April 6th I was accepted with full funding at a school and was only given 3 days (that is, until April 9th) to give them an answer. Apparently they wanted to move quickly to the next people in the wait list. I just found it very rude. First, they had me waiting for 2 months after the application deadline (4 months since I had applied), and now they gave me just 3 days to think about the offer. And the way they said it looked to me that I was just another number in a list, not that they really cared if I ended up there. Whatever. I ended up in a better program with people that really cared about me and that have been very nice before and after I made my decision.

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I think it was in particularly bad form to tell me on Sunday that I had until 4/15, and then on Tuesday demand I decide immediately. It seems like legally this is permissible, but I think it's ethically really iffy.

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It was tacky of the school to word the email in that way. The April 15 deadline is only good to those holding offers, but the depts and people on waiting lists have to suffer in the meanwhile. I understand the dept's tense attitude, but they could have definitely been a LOT nicer in asking you if you were planning to wait until April 15 to decide. It's good that you sent a polite email back right away, since who knows..you'll probably run across them later at a conference or something. It's just a mental note to you that you made the right choice.

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I think that April 15th should mean April 15th. If a school "cannot wait" until April 15th, then they should leave the Grad Council and move their deadline back to a different date. As an admitted applicant, you have the right to that time to help you make your decision.

My program tried to pressure me as well, but not in quite as startling a way as yours did.

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  • 10 months later...

I am going to say this as nicely as possible. When you know you're rejecting an offer, you need to just do it. Other people are waiting for you to make up your mind. I know it's fun to be the center of the universe and do I ever understand how self-absorbed this process makes a person but taking months to make a decision, even a complicated one such as this, reads as immature to me. Like, did you really never consider these possibilities? You've had plenty of time to research them and ponder them in the abstract.

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I am going to say this as nicely as possible. When you know you're rejecting an offer, you need to just do it. Other people are waiting for you to make up your mind. I know it's fun to be the center of the universe and do I ever understand how self-absorbed this process makes a person but taking months to make a decision, even a complicated one such as this, reads as immature to me. Like, did you really never consider these possibilities? You've had plenty of time to research them and ponder them in the abstract.

First of all, you realize this thread is from last year's admission cycle, correct? Thankfully I am already in graduate school so advice on this matter no longer applies. I see that you are applying this cycle and I remember how stressful the process was. That said I don't think there's any need to imply that I am/was selfish and immature in my actions, or that I didn't put enough thought into it. You're making a bunch of assumptions that reflect more on you than they do on me IMHO.

And FWIW I didn't spend "months making a decision" - I got an offer from this program in late March so I had less than a month to think it over, along with 4 other offers. I only put them in the "no" column maybe a few days before I got that email. And I still think they were jerks for changing the deadline at the last minute because it was more convenient for them.

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First of all, you realize this thread is from last year's admission cycle, correct? Thankfully I am already in graduate school so advice on this matter no longer applies. I see that you are applying this cycle and I remember how stressful the process was. That said I don't think there's any need to imply that I am/was selfish and immature in my actions, or that I didn't put enough thought into it. You're making a bunch of assumptions that reflect more on you than they do on me IMHO.

And FWIW I didn't spend "months making a decision" - I got an offer from this program in late March so I had less than a month to think it over, along with 4 other offers. I only put them in the "no" column maybe a few days before I got that email. And I still think they were jerks for changing the deadline at the last minute because it was more convenient for them.

I'm just making some observations on what I have noticed about this process, having gone through it before. I'm also in graduate school. And yes, I am making observations (sorry, I wouldn't call them assumptions) that reflect on me - I try to be more practical about graduate school and what it is. It's all very romantic and dramatic to have this grand, profound decision to make that everyone is hanging on but I don't think it's very practical or realistic.

I'm sorry you thought they were jerks but A) creating their cohort isn't, surprisingly, about you (this is a general note) and B) how many days were you going to congratulate yourself on having five offers before you turned it down?

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I'm just making some observations on what I have noticed about this process, having gone through it before. I'm also in graduate school. And yes, I am making observations (sorry, I wouldn't call them assumptions) that reflect on me - I try to be more practical about graduate school and what it is. It's all very romantic and dramatic to have this grand, profound decision to make that everyone is hanging on but I don't think it's very practical or realistic.

I'm sorry you thought they were jerks but A) creating their cohort isn't, surprisingly, about you (this is a general note) and B) how many days were you going to congratulate yourself on having five offers before you turned it down?

I planned on spending exactly six days waxing rhapsodic about the grand, profound decision I was making and that everyone was hanging on. I figured that would maximize the romance and drama. I was crushed on day four to have my process interrupted with the surprising reminder that it wasn't all about me.

I really don't know where you're getting all this from but grad school as soap opera is actually kind of a fun literary style!

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I am going to say this as nicely as possible. When you know you're rejecting an offer, you need to just do it. Other people are waiting for you to make up your mind. I know it's fun to be the center of the universe and do I ever understand how self-absorbed this process makes a person but taking months to make a decision, even a complicated one such as this, reads as immature to me. Like, did you really never consider these possibilities? You've had plenty of time to research them and ponder them in the abstract.

I agree. Once one has two offers, choose one to decline and do it immediately (assuming that one has visited campus, has enough info, etc.). Certainly, someone who has three offers should choose the two best and decline the third.

Edit: All that said, it's inappropriate to withdrawn an offer. They can push for a decision, but not revoke.

Edited by lewin00
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