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accepted to program and then offer withdrawn?


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Hey all, I was recently accepted to a great program, fully funded + stipend. A bit later, received an e-mail saying that actually there were funding issues with my POI and that there were no other options for me (no other faculty were interested in working with me, likewise I was not very interested in other faculty throughout the interview process). Is there any way around this? What are your thoughts? I thought an offer was a legal contract and now they are essentially saying there is no place for me in the program.

Edited by neuro90
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What are your thoughts? I thought an offer was a legal contract and now they are essentially saying there is no place for me in the program.

I am going to stray from my lane and toss in my two cents.

I regret that you're in this position. I think there are too many instances where these types of reversals happen, and what ever the reason for these mistakes, they are not fair to those applicants who are on the receiving end.

That being said, I think that a little bit of (jaded) pragmatism may provide a different perspective. Even if your assumption is correct, what then? Do you have the resources and time to hire an attorney and to chase the bouncing ball down every rabbit hole?

Let's say you prevail, what then? You would be working with a POI in a department in which someone bungled something somewhere. You would be surrounded by other professors who are as disinterested in your work as you are in theirs. Are they going to view you any differently for standing up for "what is right"? Or are you going to be viewed as "that guy/girl" who is going to be a litigious PITA when he or she gets a bad bounce? Would working in this environment be the best for your long term interests and goals?

On another BB, there are a couple of threads by graduate students who decided to fight, were in the right, and successfully vindicated themselves at the cost of their time and their economic and psychological well being. A big difference between them and you is that they had no choice--they had so much skin in the game that they couldn't pick up their chips and head to a different table.

Are you absolutely in a position where you cannot walk away? Is this a moment where alloplasticity trumps autoplastic solutions?

MOO, is that you should accept the fact that you're path has changed and to embrace that change. Look forward with hopeful expectations, not backwards. Use this experience in the future to limit your exposure to these kinds of screw ups and to make sure that you don't put someone else in such an uncomfortable position.


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This just happened to a colleague of mine and it was heartbreaking to hear. In fact it sounds worse to experience than my latest application season which is mostly (and likely all) rejections. Her situation wasn't a funding issue however it was either a clerical error or something fishy:

She got an email from her POI congratulating her and basically saying you're in. The email apparently included funding information about how much she'd get, when she'd start, and when to expect more details. Somehow her application wound up on the desk of this POI which meant her application got through the initial screening process that should have detected she lacked the needed coursework for admission.

A few days later the POI emailed her to say the school had never officially accepted her and was revoking any statement of acceptance. The reason: She didn't have enough of the required undergraduate psych courses. The POI claimed they sought out the grad school's permission to make a provisional acceptance if my colleague took the courses required over summer OR deferred acceptance and took them over the next year. The school apparently said no exceptions and it was 8 courses she needed (if it was 3 or 4 they may have reconsidered).

The only consolation to my colleague was that "at least I knew my top pick at my top choice school wanted to work with me and saw something in me."

The POI apologized and told my colleague she'd put in another request for a provisional acceptance but it was highly unlikely. Apparently the POI went as far as to offer my colleague her support as a mentor, willing to engage in a research project with her on the side, and asked her if she'd consider waiting a year and reapplying (with no sure fire chance of acceptance) to work with her as a student if accepted.

I think it is a load of bull what these schools are doing. In my colleague's case, someone in admissions didn't do their job, it should have been a rejection based on lacking multiple required courses and instead it was an acceptance with full funding only to be revoked days later. In the OP's case someone again screwed up, how can you not know if the funding is secured before making an offer? I mean really, they can't pull a couple grand a year out of their massive tuition collections to fund a qualified student that they just screwed over?

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