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I have to accept/reject offers from 3 universities for an MS in Mechanical Engineering by April 15th while I'm waiting for 3 other universities to respond. Those universities don't seem to have responded to anyone going by results on GradCafe (Berkeley, UT Austin and Purdue). Could this be due to the COVID-19 situation? Will accepting offers now before the deadline and then rejecting later somehow backfire? Will writing to the universities help?

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I reached out to a school I haven't yet heard back from and was told that the applications committee was still in the process of review due to having to adjust to new working conditions, presumably because of COVID-19. I'm sure a lot of them are in the same situation. It doesn't hurt to write to them and ask when to expect an answer. 

As for accepting now and rejecting later, I'm told this is actually a common practice, albeit a little shady. You want to guarantee yourself an option if the others fall through, but if they don't, you shouldn't feel obligated to go with your initial choice when another one suits you better. Sure, it risks burning some bridges with the faculty there and sucks for those on the wait list, but I think it's completely understandable -- you've gotta do what's best for you, bottom line. 

Curious to hear others' thoughts on this... 

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Wow, at least you heard from them. I've sent numerous emails to various addresses trying to get an update on what's going on at Miami U, but nothing. Not a single peep. They're my last hope for this year (not sure about reapplying next year--this COVID thing is really upsetting everything), and I would have thought they would have at least rejected me if they were going to reject me, not just keep me dangling.

Yeah, do what is best for you, this is your path.

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