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Getting off the Waitlist


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I never thought I would be the one writing this but..... I GOT OFF THE WAITLIST!!!! I am still in shock, all systems are currently down...

Zombie400, MidwesternAloha:  Thank you so much!  And thanks for putting up with my whining for these last few months! Tomorrow, when I wake up, that sinking feeling will be gone.  I wish the same for

After receiving rejections and only one waitlist my chances were very slim. But out of the blue yesterday I got accepted off the wait list. I am still in total shock never expected this. Miracles can

Yes - I finally heard from one of my programs, and I've been (you guessed it!), wait listed. I actually feel relieved - it's much better than being rejected. Now it's just a matter of how do I up my chances of being accepted? I assume write the program again to reiterate my interest. Any other tips? Also, If you are wait listed and do get accepted, what are your chances of funding?

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chances of getting of a waitlist at a program that only accepted 5 people this year? Any ideas?

Let them know if they are your top choice, be polite but firm and don't pester them too much. That's all I can think to do, so that's what I'm doing at least.

Good Luck!

I saw someone got in last year from the waitlist at the the school I'm wait listed at, so it's possible!

I just really hope I don't have to wait until April 10th, I might end up going nuts first...

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chances of getting of a waitlist at a program that only accepted 5 people this year? Any ideas?

Just depends on how competitive the program is and how many people they put on their waitlist. Generally, less competitive programs have longer waitlists, because they know that the first offer and maybe even the 1st and 2nd alternate will decline. More competitive programs might only have a list of 1st alternates. You never know!

In any case, same deal here; I'm on a few waitlists... hopefully one will come through.

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Well, that's the end of the line for me - at least for now.

Got an email saying that their efforts to "squeeze" me in have failed, and that I was a very close second, and that they encourage me to re-apply next year.

Then another email from the Dean also encouraging me to re-apply.

I will now turn to my plan B, with some job offers awaiting my decision.

And I am definitely applying again next year!

Until then - best of luck for all.

I am in the same position with the same program :)

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I'm on four waitlists for Astronomy, and have no acceptances yet. The good news is that one program (U of Minnesota) has offered to fly me up to their open house, and cover all the costs, an encouraging sign. Another school, (U of Illinois) interviewed me a couple weeks ago. Now all I can do is wait and hope!!

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Thanks for bumping! I've been waitlisted at my top choice school, and they said that spots can become available anytime between May 20 and the first week of classes. That said, would be it be helpful to send a letter to the department about my continued interest in the program this early in the game? It would be great to get some advice from those who've experienced being taken off a waitlist.

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I got waitlisted at my 1st and 2nd choice (only applied to three programs). After a week on the waitlist at my top choice, I got in with full funding.

I did send them an email explaining that it was my top choice, and that would I be accepted with funding, I would come. I also took the chance to describe some of my recent achievements.

Good luck everyone getting of waitlist!

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Bleh. I got tired of waiting to hear from UW-Seattle (it's nearly a month after their projected decision date), and emailed them last night. The email I received seemed to imply that I'm on the waitlist, but I haven't received anything from them at all!

I'm sure it depends on the school and program, but what's the norm for funding if you're accepted off the waitlist? They're not allowed to admit Ph.D.'s without sme kind of funding, right? Do they generally offer the "leftover" since you weren't a top candidate?

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Oh no, they can definitely admit PhDs without funding. Happened to me three times so far. Was told I am on a waitlist for funding, so I'm assuming I will maybe get more information after April 15. Still seems like a long shot.

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I only applied to one program and am on the waitlist. I'm happy with that, as previous years and the program's cost relative to simliar schools indicate that a number of slots will open up. It's also a relief because I'm OK with taking another year to work/take some courses, improve my application and then re-apply, and apply to more schools.Would prefer to start school this year but its nice to know that I'm good enough for a top program.

My one dilemma is the length of the wait... the letter indicated that they start to review and revise the list in April, but that it can go into summer. A long wait would interfere with my getting started on interim plans if I don't get in, and have me feeling left behind everyone on getting started with school plans if I do get in. So that's a little frustrating.

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As soon as I was wait listed, I wrote an email to the director of grad studies that I was psyched to hear from the school and would accept if admitted. Then I wrote about all the cool, academic-oriented things I've been doing this spring. Then... I got in! The email feels really fake, though, I have trouble believing it. It reads exactly like a spam email congratulating me on winning some money or something! I keep looking to make sure it's real.

All I can say is, thank goodness. I was reject from 6 other programs, and I was sure I wasn't getting anywhere off this wait list, that it would be a symbolic gesture to help me have strength to reapply next year. Good luck to all, and thanks for all the support all this cra journey.

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^That's great that you were able to get in by showing your enthusiasm; congrats! My waitlist letter specifically said not to call or email about it (other than sending in the form to remain on the list), the list is unranked and you can't submit any additional materials, etc etc. Just have to wait it out.

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I'll provide some advice for people on wait lists:

The first thing to do is precisely what imisscoffee did: write an e-mail expressing your interest in the school and say you would go if accepted! Keep it simple and not too long, and only do it once!

Depending on whether or not a school allows additional materials it is worth your while to write an additional essay expressing your great interest in the program, that it is your top choice and that you would go if accepted. Also have 2-3 additional LOR's sent in that say something different than the initial letters did. For instance, I am a theology major and had to have three academic references, a pastor, and a person who knows my character write a letter for one divinity school. For additional letters I am having an honors program director highlight my research efforts, an academic advisor write about my spiritual development, and am contemplating either a science teacher who saw my work in faith and science or a history teacher whose class I was #1 in.

It has sometimes been suggested that additional significant academic materials and achievements be sent in. As long as it isn't long I don't think mentioning additional achievements will be bad but do it in the form of an updated resumé. As for additional academic work: the fact that you have been wait listed means you have proven your capability and NOT that you had a significant weakness that disqualified you. A weakness like that would have gotten you rejected! Because of this the merit of sending in additional academic papers or the like seems somewhat frivolous. In addition, I was specifically told by an admissions director that it will get to a point where admissions will be like "okay, this is just too much." In short, err on the side of too little. The additional essay explaining your intent is the real key.

Beyond this, it is pretty much outside of our control. Just keep them on your radar by keeping in touch but only do so for good reasons; don't just call/e-mail them randomly and say the same thing over and over.

Some reasons for hope: while undergraduate wait lists are something like 2,000 people in size and they can usually only accept anywhere from 0 to about 300 depending on the year, graduate wait lists are MUCH more reasonable. The one I am on is 12 people in size and unranked. However, I mentioned this wait list size to an admissions director in another school where I was accepted while explaining to him why I need some more time before committing and his reaction was something like "it's ONLY 12 people?" This, of course, makes it seem like 12 is a little smaller than normal and that I have yet more reason to hope in being pulled from it. The point, though, is that we don't have nearly as much competition.

Another thing to point out is wait lists may or may not be pulled from depending on each year. Historical trends will show that some years 0 people will be pulled from the list and other years everyone will. It seems completely random. At the same time, there seems to be reason to believe I will be pulled from the list this year so this might be a good year for others as well!

I look forward to hearing more stories!

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I followed your advice. I sent an e-mail to the DGS and he replied right away: "Maybe you can clarify a bit what is that you are looking for in a program?" And that's why I did. I wrote in detail about my research interests and then he replied: "Thanks! I will have a look at your application and discuss it with admission."

Still waiting for the "discussion results"... aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!

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When does it start sounding desperate? I called the admissions counselor to say I still wanted to be on the list and she said they look at the wait list after April 15th....after another school's deadline, naturally. I emailed her yesterday mentioning I've a deadline and is there any hope of them looking at the list, you know, before April 15th. No response yet. Awesome. I've since had a mental breakdown over all this.

Should I email the program director about it so she knows I'm interested and all or is that just desperate and being a pest? I'd probably wait a few weeks, closer to April 15th but...what do you guys think?

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  • 11 months later...

im on a waitlist at my top program and i did email the director of the phd program saying that im disappointed i did not get in and that it is my first choice....no response from her...i did also ask her about my rank on the waitlist and what were the shortcomings on my application....its been 2 days and im freaking out...just a one line email from her would make my day! is there anyone out there reading this thread?

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Guest hopefulfool

Don't email them if they clearly state in their waitlist email to only contact them under certain circumstances. At my top choice school, they clearly stated to only email them if you want to get off the waitlist. 

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