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How to politely decline an offer?!


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2 hours ago, dreamerr33 said:

Bumping this thread here,

I recently declined an offer, and the Program coordinator has asked me which school will I be attending. Is it important for me to reply? What could be the consequences if I don't reply, anyone who has had a similar experience?

This is a common question to ask and it's normal for students to answer the question. But there are no "consequences" if you don't want to answer for whatever reason nothing bad will happen to you either. In academia, it's normal for people to update their academic contacts on where they are going to next, and it's courtesy for profs to ask you where you are going. So it's not like a trick question or anything---it's good that they are interested in you! 

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On 4/16/2018 at 8:45 PM, dreamerr33 said:

Bumping this thread here,

I recently declined an offer, and the Program coordinator has asked me which school will I be attending. Is it important for me to reply? What could be the consequences if I don't reply, anyone who has had a similar experience?

They are probably just curious about what you are doing and what programs they are competing with.  There's no harm in the question.

Back when I applied, one of the schools I turned down had me fill out a whole survey explaining the choice. They wanted to use survey data to improve their admissions and recruitment efforts.

The departments go through this cycle every year. The emotions are mainly on the applicants' end. Unless something really extreme is going on behind the scenes, you won't trouble them much by going somewhere else.

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On 4/16/2018 at 10:36 PM, allisonsie said:

For myself, I was able to explain that I had chosen a well-regarded MA to give myself time to really pinpoint my dissertation topic, prepare for my PhD (and languages!) and reapply in two years, and I hoped to be in touch then (one of my professors responded that my reasoning was "thoroughly reasonable.") For my professor of interest at the school I very nearly went to (the decision had me crying so hard I had a headache), I'm going to be a bit more transparent and explain that I opted for this path because my grandfather is likely in the last two years of his life, and this choice allowed me to make progress on my educational goals while also staying in the area so I could spend some time with him, and I'll be reapplying again in two years, once he has likely passed. This was helped because the school I accepted is only 2 hours from my hometown and the other school was a full 13 hours away. So, my advice is, to be honest, talk about how nice it was to meet them, thank them for their help, and ask to stay in touch.

While the train has left the station, I'd would have held back this statement.  That PhD program thought you were already well-qualified and did not need extra MA prep work.  It suggests that you would rather go to a more competitive program than to go there.  So I'd hesitate to re-apply there.  They'll then ask, "What if she gets into a school a notch above us?  Will she still turn us down?"  If the program offered you a funding package from the Graduate School, they likely have to report where declined offers chose to go and that can affect their ability to retain or gain more funding in the future.  I'd use family as a driving force in this case..

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  • 1 year later...

Though it's a few years old, I stumbled across this thread after searching how to decline offers of admission. All of the comments here were super helpful to me -- it's nice knowing that others are experiencing the same feelings as I am throughout this process. I just pulled the trigger on a rejection email and there is definitely a sense of loss even though I know the program wasn't a good fit. It's nice to think that someone on the wait list will be ecstatic to receive admission because of my decision, though. 

To answer the OP's question: I responded to my offer by thanking the department for their kindness & consideration, then explained succinctly that after much deliberation, I would be better suited to a different program. Said it was a pleasure to meet them and that I hoped they could offer admission to another eager candidate. 

Figured I'd bump this thread for others as the April 15th deadline approaches. Now it's time for me to dump my electronics out the window so I don't have to read the grad school's response. That's self care, babey. 

 
 
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