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Unbelievable response from grad school!


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I try not to vent or complain on this forum, but I just had to share this. I got an email on April 15 saying I had been accepted to this school. The acceptance email stated how impressed they were with my application, and were excited to invite me to join their program. Today I got an email from the department chair that said, "If you don't mind, let me get through some accumulated work this week, will get back to you on projects sometime in the next couple of weeks. We are still waiting to hear on assistantships anyway, so I will have more info on funding then." (That is a direct quote.) In the next couple of weeks????!!!!! I applied to this school in December, it's now PAST April 15th, and it will be a "couple of weeks" until they get around to telling me what my project could possibly be?????

In my major, (as I'm sure in many others) you really need to know what your thesis project will be before you get there, because your decision is usually based on what your project will be (that ever-present "fit"), and who you will have as an advisor.

All I can say is that I'm glad that I already know where I'm going.

Edited by Lantern
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That is a direct quote.) In the next couple of weeks????!!!!! I applied to this school in December, it's now PAST April 15th, and it will be a "couple of weeks" until they get around to telling me what my project could possibly be?????

In my major, (as I'm sure in many others) you really need to know what your thesis project will be before you get there, because your decision is usually based on what your project will be (that ever-present "fit"), and who you will have as an advisor.

All I can say is that I'm glad that I already know where I'm going.

I certainly understand the frustration (I wish that I was getting more information about next year right now, since I've made a decision). But try to see it from their perspective: if you already committed to the school before learning about funding our the project assignment, then they'll assume that it's not information that you need by April 15th in order to make a decision. There is a difference between "important" (which your project assignment is) and "urgent" (which your project assignment isn't, given that you already committed).

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No, walt526, I DIDN'T commit to this school! I can't believe my post was interpreted that way. I committed to a different school over a month ago. I would NEVER commit to a school without knowing what my project will be, who my advisor will be, or how much funding I will receive!!! Who would? You'd have to be crazy, to do that! That's like moving far from where you live for a job, without knowing what you will do, who your supervisor will be, or how mucy they will pay!

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No, walt526, I DIDN'T commit to this school! I can't believe my post was interpreted that way. I committed to a different school over a month ago. I would NEVER commit to a school without knowing what my project will be, who my advisor will be, or how much funding I will receive!!! Who would? You'd have to be crazy, to do that! That's like moving far from where you live for a job, without knowing what you will do, who your supervisor will be, or how mucy they will pay!

Stranger things have happened.

In the last two years, I've watched multiple programs in my field across the United States have their funding reduced to almost nothing. At least two did not take any new students last year and one of those is facing that situation again this coming year. No new students potentially means no program at all in the coming years. For those that are continuing with just a handful of students, they're scrambling well after Apr 15 to secure funding as they owe it to their current students to continue support before offering funding to new students. What was once viewed from an elitist standpoint of "oh well, serves them right" is turning into an epidemic as the money slowly dries up from one end of the country to the other. It's a time of major change and adaptation as programs start looking to unconventional sources for funding and the students have to be willing to make that leap with them.

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No, walt526, I DIDN'T commit to this school! I can't believe my post was interpreted that way. I committed to a different school over a month ago. I would NEVER commit to a school without knowing what my project will be, who my advisor will be, or how much funding I will receive!!! Who would? You'd have to be crazy, to do that! That's like moving far from where you live for a job, without knowing what you will do, who your supervisor will be, or how mucy they will pay!

Honestly, I find it a bit difficult to understand the outrage in your post when I keep in mind that you had already accepted another offer a month before this email exchange ever took place. Your not informing this department of your status quite possibly made funding decisions harder on the adcom and as a consequence on other waiting applicants. Money has been tight the last two years and funding decisions sometimes rely on outside factors like state funding, university-wide allocations and the like, so they have tended to be decided later than in previous years. Now, it's possible that your department is simply full of lazy people who couldn't decide on time what the funding+projects were going to be (and aren't you glad you didn't end up deciding to go there?), but it's also possible that the delay is not (wholly or partially) their fault.

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Ok, now I officially feel like a jerk for posting this, and would remove it if I could.

Just to be clear on my situation, fuzzylogician, I was contacted by a professor at this University over a month ago with a specific project that was not even remotely related to what I want to do. I very politely but very clearly told him that I was not interested in his project, and thanked him for considering me. After that, I assumed (incorrectly on my part) that since I was not interested in his project, I would not be accepted. I assumed this because I do understand how little funding is available and how few students schools are able to admit. I then accepted at a different school, but didn't contact this school to inform them that I had accepted somewhere else. An oversight on my part that I now realize.

And yes, dacey, I am fully aware of the difficulty of funding in this economic situation. Thank you for making your point without attacking me. I would completely understand if it was only funding information that was unavailable to me at this time. I was so surprised that they didn't even seem to have their projects worked out.

I know there are bigger injustices in the world, and was not looking for pity. I am very fortunate to be in the situation that I am in. I was simply posting about it because of my complete disbelief that a department chair would expect me to wait several more weeks to find out information that would normally determine the decision I would make had I not already accepted at a different school. This school understands that I will not be attending. I fixed the situation as soon as I realized it was a "situation".

Next time I will keep it to myself. I always felt nothing but support from this community, but now I now how it feels to be attacked online when others misinterpret a situation.

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Well... speaking of misinterpreting someone else's post. I apologize if you thought my comment was somehow attacking you, Lantern. It wasn't. It was simply meant to give you (and the other readers of this thread) a bit of the perspective from the other side. Given your new post, I still don't think your situation is all that unbelievable, but good for you for not going to a school that's so not on top of its game that it accepted you after you clearly stated no interest in the project they offered you and without a clear project+funding decision well after the magic April 15 deadline.. If it wasn't clear to you that they'd accepted you after you said you weren't interested, then something is clearly wrong on their part.

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Ok, now I officially feel like a jerk for posting this, and would remove it if I could.

Have you communicated to this school that you won't be attending so that they'll find making funding decisions a little easier?

Edit: I know you mentioned that you forgot but its not late still. If you haven't done it, please go ahead and send a clear email stating this. You know what people are going through these days from your experience on this forum. So I'm sure you also realize how important it is (well, was) to do this.

Edited by liszt85
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Yes, I have notified this school that I will not be attending. That's what I meant when I said I "fixed the situation", sorry I wasn't more clear. Despite the jerk that this post has made me look like to some, I would never intentionally keep another potential student from an admission or funding offer. I thanked them for considering me, and wished them the best with their funding situation and future students.

In hindsight, I guess I was so bothered by the whole thing because I felt that I had spent so much time and energy on my application (as we all did on all of our applications). For them to tell me after April 15th that they would get back to me a few weeks from now to share information on thesis projects seemed really disrespectful and inconsiderate. I still feel that way, but see that I definitely overreacted. To me, April 15 is kind of like their "deadline". If I had waited until the application deadline, then emailed them to say, "I've been busy, my application will be in in a few weeks". I'm pretty sure I know what they would have said to me - probably something along the lines of "don't bother".

Anyway, you've all put it in perspective. I'm over it.

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Out of curiosity, why are they telling you what your project will be? I've yet to go to a school that told me what I needed to research. I always told them and got an OK from someone who would advise me. I could be way off base here, but grad school should not be about someone else telling you what your thesis is.

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Out of curiosity, why are they telling you what your project will be? I've yet to go to a school that told me what I needed to research. I always told them and got an OK from someone who would advise me. I could be way off base here, but grad school should not be about someone else telling you what your thesis is.

It sounds wierd to me too, but with sciences as I understand it, you tend to start on pre-existing research projects with a professor, and this is often where funding comes from. Correct me if I am wrong, but the sciences work different from humanities like us!

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Out of curiosity, why are they telling you what your project will be? I've yet to go to a school that told me what I needed to research. I always told them and got an OK from someone who would advise me. I could be way off base here, but grad school should not be about someone else telling you what your thesis is.

Yep, Riotbeard was right. I can only speak for the life sciences since that is all I know. There may be other majors/degrees that work in a similar fashion, but I'm not sure.

Basically, in my field, you look for a professor who is doing research that is EXACTLY what you want to do. This is why in my field the ranking of the school is not always of utmost importance. It's much more important to find a professor who can get you on a project that you want to work on. It's important to contact professors before you even apply to see if they will be taking any students and to find out what their current projects are (since the university's websites aren't always up to date). There is usually room for modifying the project slightly, but basically you accept based on what the professor says he/she can fund you to do. Often at a "good" school, you can only go there if you are funded. I know it sounds crazy, but there are schools out there who will not admit you unless there is a professor willing to take you on as an advisee and fund you (supposedly even if you are independently wealthy - I'm not, so I didn't even try that tactic!). I was EXTREMELY fortunate in that I found a professor willing to fund me for EXACTLY what I want to do, and even wants me to have input on my project. This is very rare. To illustrate this in my case, I want to work with highly migratory pelagic fish. There are very few opportunities for this. Aside from the offer I accepted, I was offered a project at a different school involving studying disease in oysters. So this was not really even an option for me.

Maybe that illustrates why I was so upset about not knowing the project.

Edited by Lantern
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