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Got offer from one school, still waiting on the other


PaperTowels

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Hello everyone,

 

I received a PhD offer from school A, but they want me to make a decision soon. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for results to come in from B. B is better than A, but by the time B tells me whether I got in, the decision period for A will have already ended. B is not 100%, but I have a good chance (maybe 60-70%).

A is pretty good, but B is really good. I feel it would be stupid to pass up the opportunity to go to B... On the other hand, it would be equally stupid to lose the proverbial bird in the hand while going after two in the bush, and end up without any position at all.

Ideally, A would agree to extend the decision deadline, so I can wait until B decides, then go to B if they offer and go to A if not.

How do I handle this situation diplomatically?

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I believe that most PhD schools do agree to wait until April 15th, which is in agreement with the Council of Graduate Schools, http://www.cgsnet.org/portals/0/pdf/CGS_Resolution.pdf

 

Do find out the exact day that university A is willing to hold the financial aid for you. A simple mail to the admissions office will suffice. Confirm this piece of information officially. And then wait for university B's result till that day. It's the best you can do in these circumstances. If you proactively accept A, and then get an admission into B, you certainly will be in a very very tricky situation. So my advice, get in touch with university A about deadlines.

 

I am facing the same situation here, btw. University A send their acceptance months ago and university B hasn't. It really does stress you out, I know. As I mentioned earlier, University A has officially told me that I have till April 15th to respond though. So I'm waiting. And hoping.

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Wow, thank you! I had no idea there was such a thing. Does this apply to international students?

 

So my advice, get in touch with university A about deadlines.

 

It so happens that I have, and they have told me that in principle the deadline is 15th April, but because they have a small number of students, there isn't much room for uncertainty with who accepts and who does not. As such, I guess technically I have the right to wait right until the deadline and then cancel, but it would cause them a great deal of trouble, so it's honestly not something I'd look forward to doing.

 

I've decided to ask, as a compromise, a date that is some time before 15th so that they still have some opportunity to talk to another student should I end up going to B.  I'll just have to hope B can make their decision a bit earlier. If they don't, perhaps I can ask A for second extension later on and see what they say. Or would it be better to ask for a long, but one time extension up front?

 

 

If you proactively accept A, and then get an admission into B, you certainly will be in a very very tricky situation.

 

It seems like this never makes sense in any case - according to the CGS I already have until 15th anyway so doing this does not benefit me (as opposed to just waiting until the last minute to cancel), and only hurts them.

 

 

It really does stress you out, I know.

 

Indeed, it is a stressful decision. Getting an offer from either A or B is a very big deal for me, though perhaps bigger for B, so the prospect of risking one and getting neither isn't pleasant.

 

Also, if you haven't already, you could try writing to B and explaining your situation. Another school I applied to (which also hasn't yet decided) actually offered to assist if I need to make an urgent decision, so perhaps yours would also be willing to.

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It so happens that I have, and they have told me that in principle the deadline is 15th April, but because they have a small number of students, there isn't much room for uncertainty with who accepts and who does not. As such, I guess technically I have the right to wait right until the deadline and then cancel, but it would cause them a great deal of trouble, so it's honestly not something I'd look forward to doing

It seems like this never makes sense in any case - according to the CGS I already have until 15th anyway so doing this does not benefit me (as opposed to just waiting until the last minute to cancel), and only hurts them.

If they say their deadline is April 15th, then they shouldn't be pressuring you to decide earlier.  If they don't get a different student this year, they lose one student's place in the program.  If you miss don't commit to them in order to wait for another school's decision and get into neither, that greatly affects your situation.  Basically, it's a huge decision for you and a yearly decision for them and the April 15th deadline is supposed to recognize that.  Even though they are trying to make you feel bad, they can offer acceptances past April 15th. It's unlikely they wouldn't be able to find anyone.  And if they don't, then they don't.  And, you're right, it only hurts them if you wait.  Win-win for you. As much as you like them, they would have had no problem rejecting you or making you wait had you not been their first choice. 

 

The point is: Don't let these people pressure you because they are in a tight spot.  This is a huge life decision and you deserve to get all of the relevant information before making your decision. 

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Jung, I agree with what you say. Except perhaps I did not explain one point clearly enough:

 

If they say their deadline is April 15th, then they shouldn't be pressuring you to decide earlier.

They said the deadline was "normally 15th" (this was a phone call) but not for internationals because blah blah.

 

Even though they are trying to make you feel bad

Well, they've also basically said, "for this reason, you get an earlier deadline, sorry". It's not an issue whether the deadline is 15th, they say I have to decide by their own deadline. But it's impossible to reconcile this with the CGS resolution.

 

Don't let these people pressure you because they are in a tight spot.

I wish I knew how. They're basically saying, "decide now or we'll decide for you!" I haven't received any other offers yet, because it's too early for all other schools, but in the worst case, this school is my only PhD offer. What recourse do I have?

Edited by PaperTowels
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Well, it's definitely frowned upon but according to the CGS resolution, you could commit and then just withdraw by April 15th if you get another offer.  If you have told this school what your predicament is but they still aren't willing to budge on the early deadline, I would think of what it would be like to work in a program that with people who aren't understanding about what you need from them.  I was told by several people that I should consider my interactions with people indicative of how my relationship would be with them in the program.  It sounds like this school is not only breaking the rules (there is no specific resolution about international students, and it's my understanding they usually have the same deadline) but they are also putting your needs for future success behind their need to fill a desk in a classroom. 

 

If I were you, I would contact the POI at School B and see if you can gauge how much they want you.  If you can tell they are going to offer you a spot, I would tell School A to go fly a kite and also tell them that their pressure was a key factor in your choosing a different program.  If it's harder to tell if they want you, I would advise telling them exactly what's going on, "I have an offer that I must decide on by date X.  I would really prefer to attend the program at School B because I feel it is a better fit for my interests, I really enjoyed the other students, the research is fascinating, etc. but I feel as though I cannot forgo the other opportunity since I don't know my status at School B and will not know until after School A's deadline.  I really don't want to miss an opportunity to work with you so is it possible that a decision could be rendered earlier?"  If at least one of these schools isn't understanding, I would seriously consider applying again next year to a program that makes your needs a priority.

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