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Etiquette for withdrawing application from other programs?


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I've been accepted to one of my top two choices - am still waiting to hear from the other, but this acceptance definitely means I wouldn't consider offers from two other programs, neither of which has contacted me in any fashion. 


I've read a few threads that suggest applicants should withdraw applications if they know for sure they won't be attending a program, to save the admissions committee the trouble and so that spots can be opened up for other candidates, so I'd like to draft an email to these two programs informing them that I'm withdrawing my application. 


But is it too late in the season to withdraw applications? I worry that a withdrawal will seem rude to an adcom that hasn't yet contacted me, as if to say "there's nothing your program could possibly offer to make me consider it, so don't bother." But I would hate to extend another applicant's wait time, if my withdrawal could have helped their acceptance.



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I was in the same position as you and thought about withdrawing my application from the schools that have yet to contact me.  I later decided this is unnecessary and will just simply turn down an interview/acceptance offer from such programs if they end up contacting me.  Congratulations on your acceptance! 

Edited by floridabio
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If the school is still making decisions and you know that you wouldn't go there, you should withdraw. It will save everyone else involved (the adcom, the waitlisted applicants, etc.) a lot of time and stress. It's the most professional thing to do in this situation, as no adcom wants to waste time on applications that definitely aren't going to go anywhere. Also, if you haven't heard any news from these programs yet, you may be on a waitlist. And although you wouldn't accept the offer even if you made it off the waitlist, there could be someone else behind you on the list who is just dying to get into this school. Why stand in that person's way unnecessarily? I think that you're right to contact the schools and withdraw... it is not too late to do so. :-)


Just write a quick email to the director of graduate studies or chair of the department, and say that while you appreciate all of the time that they've put into your application, you've decided to accept an offer from another institution and thus would like to withdraw your application to their program. Quick and easy; the email doesn't need to be more than a few sentences long. You can say that it was a "tough decision" if you think it will make the email seem less callous. You don't need to specify which school you've chosen or why you've accepted the offer unless they ask you specifically in a follow-up email. The adcoms will definitely understand, and it won't come across as rude-- every school assumes that its applicants have applied to at least a few other schools, and know that it's inevitable that many of them will decide to go elsewhere. We, as applicants, may take rejections personally, but the school will probably just put your file in a storage room cabinet and move on to the next one. 


I can understand why you may think it's rude, but honestly I think it would be more rude to not withdraw if you're going to decline anyway. It's not unlike people who "lead on" suitors knowing that they are going to eventually dump them anyway. In all likelihood, the adcoms would appreciate your withdrawal and view it as a professional courtesy.


That's just my opinion. If you've been in touch with particular POIs at this school, you should email them as well to explain your situation. Those messages should probably be a little longer (here you can explain why you've chosen to withdraw, while mentioning that you hope to still keep in touch as colleagues, etc.). But again, these professors knew going into this that they weren't your only options; they [should] expect that many of the students that contact them will end up withdrawing applications or refusing offers of admission in favor of another program.

Edited by zabius
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Some application websites have a button / link to withdraw your application, which you could do very quickly.  I still think an email to the contact for grad admissions for your program should receive a personal message from you like zabius described above.  It is better for the admissions committee, AND for other applicants, if you withdraw as soon as you know you wouldn't accept an offer of admission even if you would eventually get one from that school.  

Edited by kcald716
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