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how to answer the tough question


nahiy
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I'll be having an interview with a school kind of in the middle of my list. I'm almost sure that I will be asked in the interview about my interests towards the school. What if they ask questions like: "If we give you an offer, would you accept it?" It would be almost impossible for me to answer this kind of question right now since it's still quite early and I haven't been hearing much from the other schools I applied. But I don't want to leave an impression that I'm not taking this school seriously. What should I say?? If I give a bad answer, would they draw back the potential offer?

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They can't ask you that.

They might ask you anyway though. Which is not to say it's not totally unfair, but it happens. And, not to scare you, some schools (very few) are rumored to have rejected people based on perceived lack of interest/commitment.

More likely they will ask you what other schools you have applied to and what your preferences are, and whether you have heard anything back. Feel free to list the other programs. Don't pre-commit if you're not in a position to do so--it will just be a mess later on if you decide not to go, and it's not ethical. Say something honest and diplomatic, perhaps highlighting concrete reasons you are interested in that particular program.

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I've been asked a few times what the school ranked on my list. I always say they're in my top few. But then again, I like nearly all my programs around the same range, so it's pretty much true.

I was under the perception that unless I sign my pencil across that official letter that nothing is final.

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I was under the perception that unless I sign my pencil across that official letter that nothing is final.

True, but it's still not a good idea to give the impression that you're definitely going to accept an offer if you won't (or aren't sure). If you're a student, it reflects badly on your school as well as you.

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It is your right, until April 15, to make your choice. They can't ask you if you're going to accept their offer. They might ask you what other programs you are interested in. That doesn't mean you have to show them your entire hand- you're perfectly within your right to tell them you're not sure what you're going to do quite yet.

After April 15, they can withdraw their offer.

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I have third party profs ask me, who know me because i've had class with them but who also happen to be doing admissions for another school I applied ask me where I school I was accepted to ranked on my list and if it was my first choice. I think an appropriate answer is "I would be happy to attend any of the schools I applied to, but before I make a final decision I need to evaluate what, if any, additional offers I receive." I've been playing sort of close to the vest though, by not telling anyone other schools I applied to. The only ones who know the final list are myself and the people who wrote letters for me.

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Thanks to all above~

I know I have the right not to make a decision now, but my answer can still affect their decision... (just like that scary rumor... :shock: )

Like, if I say "you are one of my top choices", and then they ask what other schools are your top, should I list schools that tie with them or should I really list my top schools (which are kind of obviously better but not so likely to be accepted)?

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I was asked point blank in an email whether XYZ school was a top choice, or a safety. It's not fair, but it happens. I said they were a top choice, and I gave concrete reasons why. I hope they're convinced. Departments are really worried this year about tying up scarce funding, making offers to students who ultimately won't enroll.

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Don't be afraid to tell the middle level school that you are also interested in better school, but make sure that you do not come across as believing the other schools are better. I did this with UNC last year when I said they are my top choice along with Duke, Yale, and Hopkins (actually was since they have some of the best cytoskeleton research in the country). This seemed to work very well. I think lower schools love to take people from the top schools. I would have concrete reasons that you are considering them along with the other schools. Again do not give them any hints that you do not think they are at the same level as the other schools (or you will be rejected).

Best of luck

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