Jump to content

Keeping an open mind?


Recommended Posts

Hey folks, I'm just looking for some feedback here. I'm currently applying to PhD programs for fall of 2012. I've only applied to two programs, both highly ranked in my (somewhat small) subfield, both programs I think I'd be a good match for, both programs I'd be thrilled to attend. Things are going pretty well, and I'm excited about this process.

Here's the "problem": professors from school A got in contact with me while my application was still in progress (not officially submitted). Their responses to me have been really positive, everyone has been really kind and there's talk of invitations to a recruitment weekend and extra fellowships above and beyond their normal funding offers (just that I'll be nominated for them, nothing official). That's great, and I'm super excited. I've heard nothing at all from school B, but school B's application deadline was just this past Thursday.

Now, maybe school B just isn't that excited about me, and that would be OK (not everyone is a good match for every program), but maybe their process is just different and I'll hear from them eventually. So far, I've been trying to keep myself from getting too wrapped up, emotionally, in my excitement about school A, so if school B does end up being interested in me, I'd still be in a good place to evaluate their program at least somewhat neutrally. I'm afraid if I let myself feel too committed to school A this early, I won't be able to really "hear" any of the positives about school B. But that restraint is getting harder and harder to maintain as things keep going so well with school A.

I'm genuinely psyched about school A. I'm also genuinely psyched about having this ambiguity be over, so I can start thinking about where I'll be living next year and really start planning in earnest. My questions are these: should I keep trying to keep an open mind? If so, how? I'd almost prefer, at this point, to just never hear back from school B, so my decision is made for me, but making a decision like that this early seems crazy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Keep an open mind.

I applied to three schools, and by the time I'd gotten all the acceptances, my opinions about the three had almost exactly reversed from my earlier opinions. I was pretty sure by about January that I wanted to go to one school, but I ended up waiting until the deadlines, and I'm glad I did. My choice stayed the same, but there were some huge back and forths in the middle- fellowship offers, etc. Had I chosen early and then gotten those, it would have made me wonder if I made the right decision. As it was, I could take them into account, weigh all the facts and still feel happy about my decision.

It's great that you're having such a nice response from school A, but school B just may not have started going through apps yet- once they do, they may be just as enthusiastic or more.

I should add, you're talking about neutrality... What actually made me switch my order of preference initially was that I went into several of the interviews with a strong bias towards the other school... And because of that, the faculty made a lot harder sell of their program, and I asked a lot more pointed questions. It made them work to convince me, but also I felt very good about it, because I got my opinion flipped starting from a bias, which was pretty impressive.

That said, if your situation plays out at all like mine, be prepared for both a hard decision, and the possibility of not-so-great responses from the school you turn down. I got told quite brusquely and point blank that I was making a big mistake and the wrong decision when I told one school I was going elsewhere... Ran into that person doing recruiting for my program two years down the line, and they were still a bit miffed that I didn't go there.

Edited by Eigen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, thanks for the thoughts, Eigen! That's a really good point that going in with a bias might put me in a good position to ask skeptical questions.

It sucks that you got such a rude response from the school you turned down--that strikes me as pretty unprofessional. More than one person has made an analogy between applying for graduate school and the early stages of dating, which seems to be pretty insightful. I guess the school you turned down isn't too great at "break ups" :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use