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Withdrawing an Application


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Has anyone here done this? After a recent interview my original advisor and I both realized that we aren't going to be a good fit at all. I've been looking for another one, but the only people I would really want to work with are already booked and/or not looking for students. I'm thinking it might be better for my own sanity to just remove my application from consideration and stop worrying about it. Thoughts?

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I actually kind of disagree. I think admissions committees give serious thought to the make up of the cohorts they put together each year. If you know you are not going to attend it's better to do that now rather than later. It allows the school to carefully consider other applicants.  It's just my opinion but I don't see anything wrong with withdrawing your application.  

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sansao, I see you've got a couple more interviews (at least). Should we assume from the nature of the post that you've already committed to this one acceptance? If not, you've got quite a bit of time left before you need to. It's very common for folks to wait for everything to pan out before choosing a school and the programs are used to people being accepted to multiple places and so having to turn down acceptances (but you probably know all this). They know you've got to choose the best option for you and so shouldn't take it personally.

If you have committed however, and do want to back out, it'd probably be good to write a letter to the program/graduate office explaining the situation and have that letter endorsed/(forwarded with his/her own notes) by the advisor. In which case, I agree with slaNYC in that sooner is probably better than later (just to keep relations pleasant and your reputation in the field intact). However, sleeping on it a bit more would still be wise. And having another lily pad to jump to before deciding would be nice too.

 

Either way, even in a place you love and really do want to be, earning a PhD is one heck of a mountain to climb. For how long could you make yourself do it in a place you don't want to be with only the hope that something better comes along while you're there? (Although, changing direction a bit is actually pretty likely regardless.) This is what I'd be thinking about. But unless I had somewhere else to go, it'd be getting weighed against having to go through all this again. And I'd get my PhD on Rikers Island to avoid that. ... ...

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Well, the acceptance that I have is to another school, so withdrawing here would only mean someone better suited *might* be given an offer. If I don't find a new advisor, it's very unlikely that I'll be accepted. The problem is that there just isn't anyone left that does anything close to what I want to do. It wouldn't be a slight direction change, I'd be jumping from water chemistry to ecology or plant biology, and while I'm sure those are great fields, I'm not really trained in either of them, or all that interested in making either of them my life's work.

Amusingly enough, the acceptance that I have at the other school is also contingent on my finding an advisor, because they don't do TAs. Life has a sense of humor, apparently.

Edited by sansao
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In my humble opinion, never burn a bridge you may need to cross over later...

Even if you end up doing something else, there's no harm in holding on to an option for as long as you can. 

 

I agree with the first sentence, but not the second. If you know that one school is not going to be a good fit for you, then don't hold out until April 15th. Once you feel really sure that you want to withdraw and application or decline an offer, maybe sleep on it for a day and then send that declining/withdrawing email. Even if you know that you're not "taking up a waitlist spot" (some schools don't do waitlists at all), I think it's unprofessional to hold onto an option simply because you can. Just my opinion though.

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I agree with the first sentence, but not the second. If you know that one school is not going to be a good fit for you, then don't hold out until April 15th. Once you feel really sure that you want to withdraw and application or decline an offer, maybe sleep on it for a day and then send that declining/withdrawing email. Even if you know that you're not "taking up a waitlist spot" (some schools don't do waitlists at all), I think it's unprofessional to hold onto an option simply because you can. Just my opinion though.
Kinda where I'm at with it too. I'm going to email the program chair, who I've worked with in the past, and see if they have any suggestions, and I have one more interview with a faculty member there. I'll go to that and see how it pans out. After that, if nothing's changed, I'll just have to hope for the best from the other six schools.
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You've only been officially accepted into one place. Do not withdraw it now and regret it heavily should things change.

 

Wait until (or if) you have gotten in elsewhere and seen the fit there and decided it was better for you.

 

While your consideration is noble, I think it's better to play this safe.

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