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How to contact programs to find out your problem area.

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Hi all. I appoligize if this has already been addressed in an earlier post but I was wondering (having been totally rejected) how to elicit information about where I went wrong in my application from grad schools.

What's the protocall? Can I just email the DGS and hope he or she gives me insight? Is this the best or most successful way? What have other people experienced in terms of contacing the department?

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Hi there! When I was rejected from Northwestern back in early February, I called the assistant to the DGS (it was still early in the process, and I didn't want to bother the DGS without being advised to do so). I was told that no personal feedback would be given, based on a rule the English Department had made. The assistant made it sound to me that there were simply too many applicants to give each one feedback, and that there were so many different factors that could cause people to be rejected off the bat (GRE scores, I think, in Northwestern's case) that feedback would be difficult to give, even with time permitting.

That said, each school probably has a different policy, and calling/e-mailing the assistant to the DGS, or maybe the DGS him-/herself in a month other than March or April, seems like a sound enough idea to me. The worst that could happen is what happened in my case, and the best is that you'd know how to improve in the future. Best of luck!

(P.S.: I did not question any other school; I was a little discouraged and didn't make other attempts, hence Northwestern being my only example.)

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I would write an email to the program coordinator and ask something like

"Thank you for informing me of your decision and I respect it entirely. Could you please inform me what specifically was lacking from my application so that I can present myself as a better candidate in the future? Or direct me to the person that could tell me that information? I appreciate the work that goes into both sides and recognize that perhaps I wasn't a perfect fit this time -- I'm simply wondering what you were looking for.



I think you're allowed to ask, especially if you were wholly rejected. There are plenty of intelligent and interesting people who just have trouble selling themselves and I think programs understand it -- part of what they're looking for in candidates is this ability and it's certainly something people can work on, it being a skill that will aide us for the rest of our professional careers.

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