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need to accept but haven't heard back from all programs!?! halp!


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So i applied to 11 masters and phd programs (about half for each)

one of my programs has accepted me and has told me i need to notify them of acceptance by april 15th, yet i haven't even had replies back from more than half of my other programs...

Am i allowed to accept the schools invitation and then not show up? what, if any, are the repercussions behind this?

has anyone been in this situation before? how did you handle it?

any advice would be great, thanks in advance!

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I was in the exact same situation a few weeks ago, (and what a long few weeks it has been!), and the best thing to do is to call/email the school that accepted you and ask for an extension.

Tell them that you're still waiting to hear back from other schools, and they might even offer you more funding to aid your decision making!

And while you're at it, also email the schools that you haven't heard from yet and ask about the status of your application and when their decisions will be made/or if they've been made already.

Good Luck! You'll get through this!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The best thing to do is to ask the school that made the first offer for an extension. It's probably a good idea to ask about the programs you haven't heard from yet, as well.

There are no legal repercussions if you accept a school's offer and then not show up. It's the same as dropping out of grad school partway through your degree -- you are never forced to stay. Accepting an offer is NOT signing a contract. If you already paid a deposit, you might lose it though. Also, if you end up dropping out after school started, and your fellowships/stipends/whatever started paying you, you will probably have to pay it back. You might have to pay tuition depending on how late you drop out (but probably not until after the program starts).

However, because most schools agree to the "April 15 deadline" as a common date to ask their candidates to respond to their offer, if you already accepted an offer from School A before April 15, and then School B makes you an offer, then School B would want to see a "release" signed by School A before they take you. I've heard that the "release" is easy enough to get, since a school wouldn't want to keep you if you rather be somewhere else. But because many schools follow the April 15 convention, you might actually hear from a ton of schools just before April 15!

In addition, there are other consequences of accepting an offer and then not showing up. When you accept an offer, you are removing one available spot at the school, so if you end up not showing up, the next person in line loses out on a spot to that school. But, you should act in your own best interests first -- if the school won't give you an extension and it's April 15 and you haven't heard from other places, you should definitely accept the offer and see if you get another one. If you do get another offer after April 15, it would be best for everyone if you make a decision ASAP.

Finally, if you accept an offer and then back out of it, you might upset some faculty members at the school. This could hurt your chances of future applications at the same school, but unless your field is really small, it wouldn't be a big deal. But if you asked for an extension and the school refused to grant you one, no reasonable person would fault you for accepting an offer and then leaving for a better offer. In the end, everyone wins if students go to the place that is the best for them.

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