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When to Solicit a Response


Norman G
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I’ve searched through this forum for any information concerning the appropriate time to solicit a response from the schools one has applied to. I have managed to find a few helpful pointers, but I still wonder if, by this point in the game, it is ever wrong to inquire into the status of one’s application. I should mention that the schools I am thinking of soliciting for responses are very small and, as such, have no previous application season’s information available on the results search (so, I don't know when I should be expecting final word on my application). However, that being said, the aforementioned schools’ application due-dates were rather recent (February 15, February 20, and March 1). Regardless, can it ever hurt to inquire into one’s application status? Even if the school is nowhere near finalizing their list, can it hurt to show the school that you are interested in them?

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Honestly, as long as you write a polite, professional e-mail, I don't see what the issue is. I would give it some more time if the deadlines were in mid to late Feb, probably at least until the end of March. You can always call the department and bother the dept secretary, and you don't even have to say your name... Just say, "I have applied to the PhD program, and I was wondering whether the department has contacted possible candidates..." If they ask for your name, then just hang up abruptly...lol

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I'm wondering the same thing myself--I applied to Columbia's PhD program and got rejected, but they sent my application to the Medieval Studies department whose deadline for applications is not until March 15th. Unfortunately this means I won't hear back from Columbia for at least another month. Since Columbia is such a great school it would be a complete game changer if I were to be accepted; I would have to very seriously reconsider my options, but by that time my other schools will be expecting to hear back from me.

At this point it seems like contacting the department is the better of the two options precisely because everything is sort of hanging in the balance until I get word from them. I can't conceive of how this might hurt my chances of acceptance since I'm sure there are other students who are in the same position. Also, in one case I'll lose my funding if I don't respond by a certain date and therefore it'd be insane for me to hold out for Columbia, especially if I find out in the end that I've been rejected. It would be equally maddeningly to accept an offer only to learn that I'd been accepted to Columbia. In spite of the fact that the deadline is March 15th, I'm going to reach out to the department and request an update probably at the end of the first week of April. I really can't wait longer than that.

There should be some kind of protocol for this though. The only reason I'm summoning the courage to contact the department is because I figure I haven't got much to lose, right?

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At this point it seems like contacting the department is the better of the two options precisely because everything is sort of hanging in the balance until I get word from them. I can't conceive of how this might hurt my chances of acceptance since I'm sure there are other students who are in the same position. Also, in one case I'll lose my funding if I don't respond by a certain date and therefore it'd be insane for me to hold out for Columbia, especially if I find out in the end that I've been rejected. It would be equally maddeningly to accept an offer only to learn that I'd been accepted to Columbia. In spite of the fact that the deadline is March 15th, I'm going to reach out to the department and request an update probably at the end of the first week of April. I really can't wait longer than that.

I'm in the same boat. I have a couple of offers but have yet to hear back from my first choice school (and I don't expect I "officially" will until just before April 15). LeFresne, do you have any thoughts on how to go about constructing an appropriate "request application status" email? On the one hand I don't want to come across as desperate to the admissions department; but, at the same time, I do want to stress that I have other offers. Any ideas?

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People ... come on!

It can't possibly be unreasonable to make an inquiry in a situation where you are under pressure from other schools to respond already. You have to ask yourself: would they really reject you just because you asked a bit in advance about your status? If they do, is that a place you want to go to? That would be capricious in the extreme.

The way to do it is this: First, ask about the timeline for announcements generally, i.e., is there a date by which I/we can expect to hear from the admissions committee? Second, indicate you would be happy to hear of any decision in your particular case if one has in fact already been made.

If you explain that you have been given deadlines from other schools, there shouldn't be a problem, not reasonably anyway. In my case, there is a discrepancy between announcements from US and Canadian schools - the latter happen faster/sooner. So I needed to know from the US schools ASAP to be able to properly consider my options ... there is nothing unreasonable about that and we shouldn't have to fear reprisal for making a polite inquiry, etc. etc.

Good luck to all!

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Yeah, CityZen has a pretty good method for contacting the school. I haven't drafted an email yet so I don't have anything to add--I think it's completely legitimate to contact a school when you have admissions decisions you need to make. I just recommend waiting until after their official time for notifications. I'm bouncing off the walls waiting for Emory to send out decisions, but their website says they might not be able to reach admissions decisions until the second week of March. So I'll respect that deadline, even though it means I have to wait an extra week before fully exploring and considering my options elsewhere.

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Just adding this because I thought it was funny: I had planned to contact Columbia the first week of April, but a member of the faculty contacted me instead to ask if I was still interested in applying to the program.

Strange, no?

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Ok, so I've written two places directly asking about my status because I have fairly rushed decisions to make here in Canada - Columbia and CUNY - and I contacted them over the past week plus. I need to know before I give an answer to the Canadian schools because, obviously, either of those schools would top my list.

But I've had no response - nada - not even an acknowledgment of the e-mail, or a "sorry we don't know yet" .....

What the hell does that mean????

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Columbia sent out some acceptances and waitlist notifications already, so it's possible that they're about to send out the remainder of their notifications and decided not to answer individual inquiries.

Looking through Who Got In on LJ it seems that CUNY has sent out acceptances and waitlist notifications already as well. It is weird that they never responded to you though. Who did you contact?

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At Columbia: the Director of Graduate Admissions, per his official title on the web site.

And at CUNY, "Executive Officer" and cc'd the "Assistant Program Officer" of the "Philosophy Program, The Graduate Center, CUNY" - they're right there on the main page - I could not find the equivalent of a "Director of Graduate Admissions".

Still no response, and I have a bout a week left to give an answer to the Canadian school(s), which means, if a positive answer comes from either of those places I have only a week to decide whether to live in Canada or the US next year, and there are so many things to research, like health coverage, job for my wife, etc. etc etc. .... Anyway, at this point this is just becoming a gripe, since there is nothing I can really do about it but wait, I guess ....

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http://who-got-in.li...com/103121.html

Who Got In is a LiveJournal group that prospective grads can visit, ask questions and post results to. It's a useful resourced, but navigating it can be daunting since it's 30 page and counting with little organization (because it's an LJ thread).

Hope this helps. I think CUNY results appear somewhere near page 28 and on. Not certain though.

Edited by LeFresne
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@CityZen, I also applied to CUNY (unsuccessfully) but the rejection email I received came from the office assistant, Andrea Finnely's account:

AFinnely@gc.cuny.edu. Maybe contact her.

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Thanks for any guidance, much appreciated!

I noticed o the admission results that a bunch of the rejections from Columbia purportedly came "via Website", and the applicants writing in make notes saying stuff like "Email to check the website." .... What does this mean? What website? The https://app.applyyourself.com/?id=COL-GAS website where we initially submitted applications? Or is there some other website?

Sorry, but this is rather confusing, especially since Columbia's deadline was back in Jan. 3!

Thank you if you happen to know anything!

Edited by CityZen
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