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accept the offer.. and reject ?


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I accepted an offer for a Ph.D program a few days ago.

The thing is, I'm still on the waitlist for another school which is my dream school.

They might contact me early next week to let me know that I got off of waitlist.

In this case, can I rescind the offer that I already accepted and accept the offer from my dream school?

Or is this really a No?

Edited by maltilover
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While changing your mind (BEFORE April 15) is technically allowed under the Council of Graduate Schools resolution, the department whose offer you are changing your mind on would have every right to be upset. Depending on your future academic plans and the size of your field, their negative feelings about your behavior may or may not matter.

Changing your mind AFTER April 15 is a big no-no.

Edited by cyberwulf
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I really wouldn't do this. I'll be just starting grad school in English this fall, like you, so I don't really know much about anything--but I do know that every time I've spoken to a English professor or grad student, it turns out they know someone else that I've met or studied with in the past, which addresses cyberwulf's point about the size of the field. With the odds of getting an academic job in English being so dazzlingly tiny, I have to assume that starting off on the wrong foot with anyone (and, certainly, starting off on the wrong foot with an entire department) is something to be avoided if at all possible.

(ETA: isn't the form that we have to fill out to accept or decline an offer a binding kind of thing? That would make it double-trouble if you decline, right? Not only would it be post-April 15th, when other candidates who may have been waitlisted for your spot would likely have taken other offers and thus be unavailable, but it would also be going back on a binding agreement?)

Edited by pinkrobot
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You have to do what is best for you - a PhD is a huge commitment and no professor is going to be as sad that some student withdrew after accepting, even after april 15, as a student will be to spend 5-7 years of their life in a sub-optimal program. If you need to withdraw after April 15 you can do so by requesting a release from the program that accepted you - no one wants to keep a student who doesn't' want to be there. Yeah, its not a nice thing to do, but its your life and the stakes are too high to sacrifice it out of not wanting to hurt any feelings.

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I'm inclined to say no, especially if this offer is a nice one. If it's comparable to this dream school, then just get yourself off that waitlist and let the process be done with it.

I'd actualyl talk to your adviser about this- your adviser is the best person as s/he knows the field and if the POI/department you've been accepted to will be upset if you withdrew your offer to attend your dream school.

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When you decline an offer, you are giving up your interest in the program and thus allow the school to offer the spot to someone else. However, when you accept an offer, there is no legal obligation to actually attend that school. You won't be forced to pay tuition, or anything like that -- you will lose whatever deposits you have paid though. But, even if it's the middle of July and you change your mind, there is nothing that is legally stopping you!

If you have already accepted an offer from School A, and you want to change to School B before April 15, then it's not really a big deal. Just accept School B and then tell School A you have changed your mind. It's not ideal, because School A people were probably planning on you arriving. However, it's before April 15, so they can still offer a spot to people on their waitlist.

After April 15, School B will probably require you to declare whether or not you have already accepted a previous offer. You would then have to get a "release" from School A and show that to School B before you can accept School B's offer. However, this still does not mean you were legally bound to School A -- this is just something School B requires so that there are no hard feelings between School A & B (i.e. School B is not trying to "poach" School A's students). In addition, School A people will likely be pretty upset at you. But they will almost always give you the letter of release (if you don't want to be there, they won't want you either). Also, there could be a person on School A's waitlist for whom School A is their dream school, but your delay causes them to not get an offer until after April 15, and they might have already accepted an offer somewhere else!

There are no real legal consequences to changing your mind after April 15. There will be some reputation damaged though, but it's not necessarily career-ending (although you might not be able to apply to the same department again in the future) if you handle it properly. In the end, everyone realises you have to make the decision that is best for you. You just have to decide if it's all worth it. As future professionals, we will have to make decisions in which someone loses.

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