Jump to content

Getting the most information out of contacting a department


rowlf

Recommended Posts

I have seen a lot of people posting information they got from contacting a department like that they were on the waitlist or rejected, or that the department sent out the first wave of interview invites or acceptances.

For those of you who have done this successfully, how did you ask?

I have contacted departments by calling and asking for an update on my application status. They tell me it is under review and I will hear by April 15th. I started being a bit more blunt and just ask if they have sent out the first wave of acceptances or if they have already done interviews and they either give me as little information about possible or, more typically, refuse to answer.

It seems like there is some subtle way of asking that makes them spill all their beans, like a password. Is the password "password"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have have contacted one department about decision timelines and another department about funding timelines, and in both cases I sent a polite and friendly email with my questions to the department secretary (check the staff listing online) and she forwarded my request on to the appropriate faculty members, who wrote me back quickly and answered my questions.

I suppose a lot will depend on how many applicants they had and how many requests like this they're getting. And not to sound negative, but it may also depend on where you are on their list. If you're someone they are planning to accept, they will be quick to get back to you with positive and encouraging responses. If you're on the "no" list, they're not going to be so worried about keeping you happy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After I got accepted into my first choice program, I sent polite status check emails to the dept secretaries of the other programs where I disclosed that I was considering an offer from another university. Within 3 days all of the schools I sent the status check email to rejected me. I'm not sad about the rejections, but it did give me pause - I don't think my status check email was rude in any way, in fact it even said that if my application status wasn't available, that was fine - I just think those programs had me low on their ranking list (thanks to low GREs), so by sending me those rejections they were probably saying "take the offer from the other university."

In hindsight, I'm not sure if I did the right thing. If my goal was to weigh the options between different schools, then I really blew it. However, I really really wanted my first choice school, so for me it worked. Still, I wouldn't reccommend this tactic to everyone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After I got accepted into my first choice program, I sent polite status check emails to the dept secretaries of the other programs where I disclosed that I was considering an offer from another university. Within 3 days all of the schools I sent the status check email to rejected me. I'm not sad about the rejections, but it did give me pause - I don't think my status check email was rude in any way, in fact it even said that if my application status wasn't available, that was fine - I just think those programs had me low on their ranking list (thanks to low GREs), so by sending me those rejections they were probably saying "take the offer from the other university."

In hindsight, I'm not sure if I did the right thing. If my goal was to weigh the options between different schools, then I really blew it. However, I really really wanted my first choice school, so for me it worked. Still, I wouldn't reccommend this tactic to everyone.

I imagine if they were "on the fence" about you, then pushing them to make a decision because you have another good offer may push them toward rejecting you. As you said, if you really want to be able to weigh your options, it is probably best to not rush them (given that you can wait).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Heather Hoffman, you were accepted to your first choice program? Congratulations!!!! That's such good news.

Personally, I don't subscribe to the do-not-poke-the-monster theory. I don't think a school would reject you because you rushed them or bothered them. It may be true that you weren't quite on the official rejection list when you contacted them but I don't think that contacting them would have any effect on your standing. They don't admit someone because they are afraid that student will have no other options. Now you can look forward to your number one school without any more waiting.

I hope you are thrilled and this admit makes you feel at peace with all the little decisions we have all been obsessing over.

After I got accepted into my first choice program, I sent polite status check emails to the dept secretaries of the other programs where I disclosed that I was considering an offer from another university. Within 3 days all of the schools I sent the status check email to rejected me. I'm not sad about the rejections, but it did give me pause - I don't think my status check email was rude in any way, in fact it even said that if my application status wasn't available, that was fine - I just think those programs had me low on their ranking list (thanks to low GREs), so by sending me those rejections they were probably saying "take the offer from the other university."

In hindsight, I'm not sure if I did the right thing. If my goal was to weigh the options between different schools, then I really blew it. However, I really really wanted my first choice school, so for me it worked. Still, I wouldn't reccommend this tactic to everyone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sending an email to check on your application status won't hurt or help your chances of admission. Period.

When a departmental administrator receives an inquiry email like this, they generally either 1) reply to it directly (usually with little information, since they tend to stick to the rules and don't want to get in trouble for revealing information), or 2) forward it to a relevant faculty member. Whether or not your email makes it to "Level 2)" can depend on several factors, including the complexity of your situation and whether the administrator recognizes your name as someone the department is interested in (remember, these administrators generally attend admissions committee meetings).

Your best bet for reaching someone likely to give you some insight is to send an email to the relevant administrator, and ask (politely) whether they can put you in touch with the chair of the admissions committee. If you have other offers that you are considering, you could (again, politely) mention this. In my experience, administrators will try to get you the information you need if you have a compelling reason for needing it (i.e. something more than "I'm curious" or "the waiting is driving me crazy.")

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sending an email to check on your application status won't hurt or help your chances of admission. Period.

When a departmental administrator receives an inquiry email like this, they generally either 1) reply to it directly (usually with little information, since they tend to stick to the rules and don't want to get in trouble for revealing information), or 2) forward it to a relevant faculty member. Whether or not your email makes it to "Level 2)" can depend on several factors, including the complexity of your situation and whether the administrator recognizes your name as someone the department is interested in (remember, these administrators generally attend admissions committee meetings).

Your best bet for reaching someone likely to give you some insight is to send an email to the relevant administrator, and ask (politely) whether they can put you in touch with the chair of the admissions committee. If you have other offers that you are considering, you could (again, politely) mention this. In my experience, administrators will try to get you the information you need if you have a compelling reason for needing it (i.e. something more than "I'm curious" or "the waiting is driving me crazy.")

Agree with this! After I received my first offer I sent emails to the coordinators or administrators in all my other programs, making it clear that I was very interested in their programs still but had received an offer which required an answer shortly so knowing of any sort of timeline would be very helpful. I told them all that if decisions were not likely to be available by such-and-such date I would be requesting an extension from the school that made the offer, and I definitely didn’t have any negative response.

I sent the emails to four schools:

-One got back to me asap and said I would be hearing that week, the next day I got an offer

- One told me their committee hadn’t yet met but they would let me know my status unofficially asap, very nice

- Two never replied

Quite honestly, the programs that didn’t respond dropped a bit in my own rankings. If I made a bad impression simply by asking for a time line at a time when it actually was necessary to plan my own future then so be it, I doubt I’d enjoy working with administration for the next 6 years that feels it’s acceptable to just delete or ignore a prospective student. Even a "we don't know yet" would have been totally fine and taken a full 10 seconds, I'm not looking for paragraphs explaining the department situation, just if they know when decisions can be expected.

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

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.