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Waitlisted and not able to visit


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I've been waitlisted at several schools thus far for a PhD in Philosophy - no response from many more, and unfortunately, no outright acceptances. Through talking to a few friends who were accepted off the waitlist recently - as in, within the past few years - it sounds like making a visit to the school can greatly help whether or not one gets accepted off the waitlist. However, due to my financial situation (i.e. I don't have any money) and my work situation (i.e. I can't get away from work), it is impossible for me to visit any of the schools. So, I was thinking of calling some people at the department to get some more information, and to let them know that I'm interested. a) Is this a good idea? B) Who, exactly, should I call? Should I call the person who sent me the notification of being on the waitlist or try to call someone else as well? c) What are some good questions to ask?

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I'm in a similar situation with one school, so I don't have any advice (sorry!), but I would add one more question for anyone who might be able to answer -- is it okay to contact current grad students in the program? And should I get permission and/or give DGS a heads-up about that? Thanks (and thanks schonbier, for posting this).

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I would send an email to -- or call -- the DGS for the program and say something like this:

I understand that I am on the wait list right now and that there is a chance I will not be offered acceptance into your program; however, I remain very interested in the program and its faculty and would love an opportunity to learn more. At the moment, I don't believe that I'll be able to travel to make a personal visit to the campus. Would it be possible to schedule a Skype meeting sometime in the next couple of weeks so that I can ask a few questions? Also, if there are any graduate students who might be willing to talk to me, I'd love to start an email conversation with them or even schedule a phone or Skype meeting. Thanks so much!

If you get the meeting, ask really good, interesting questions about the program and its faculty and the research you want to do, etc. And also take the opportunity to ask exactly where you're ranked on the wait list, what your chances might be, and what kind of likelihood there is for funding for people coming off the wait list. If you think you might be doing a second round of applications next year (if you don't end up with any acceptances this year) you might also ask for feedback on what would have made your application stronger.

Good luck :)

Edited by MediaMom
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Depends: did they invite you to visit? I can't picture a department saying "absolutely no visits/meetings for wait-listed students" if anyone were to ask for a visit, but some programs might not encourage all that much contact from students on the wait list. I'm actually curious myself about whether contacting professors via email/telephone is a good idea or not when you're on the wait list.

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I asked my accepting school if there was any financial assistance available for visitation to the university, and was told the next day that they'd like to (on their dime) fly me out, all expenses paid to visit the university for a recruiting weekend. I was surprised they did this! I thought that was just for college athletes but apparently not!

Just ask. What's the worst they could say? No? Get the time off work(if you have to lie cheat or steal!) if the school offers to pay for your visit— this is the next 5 years of your life after all!

Edited by SixFender
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