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So I'm brand new at this whole "applying to a literature Ph.D" game and since I'm here around some of those better informed than me, can anyone lend a hand and discuss a little what the typical style is for hearing back? Do universities typically send out their rejections and then acceptances? Vice versa? Do they feel remorse when they crush dreams or is it a fun hobby? When do they typically inform applicants that they've been waitlisted? Do most/all schools waitlist? Is there a particular time (early February, mid-February, March, never) that acceptances or rejections typically come? 

 

All of this is to say QUELL MY INSECURITIES AND TELL ME THINGS BECAUSE APPLICATION STATUSES ARE NOT.

 

Also hi. 

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Well, I'll chime in with my general sense of things.  And I'm sure people more in the know will completely shoot it down.  But from what I've observed and heard (on here and from real life friends who've applied), good news comes in February.  Doesn't mean there's no such thing as early and mid-March acceptances, just that you have a little reason to feel disheartened if February passes and you've got no acceptances.  A friend of mine told me that she did hear from places in early and mid-March, but that they were M.A. programs, not Ph.D.  I also hear that some schools just never even tell you one way or the other, which I think is really, really rude.  People want closure, and given that they worked hard and spent money on apps, I think it's rude of schools to just never even send an email saying that you're rejected.  I think this can be done pretty easily, even if it's via mass but blind-copy email to the big lot of people who aren't accepted.

 

All of that said, I plan to react emotionally in the following way:  

 

February passes with no acceptances = feel pretty disheartened but still with *slight* hope if a few schools are still pending.

 

March 15th passes with no acceptances = feel 99% sure I didn't get in anywhere and will not.

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That was really helpful! I actually had the opposite in mind (without any evidence to) because I expected them to send rejections and then acceptances. I just had a look at the results page and what you've said seems to make a lot of sense and fit the data. 

 

I have a contact at a university's admissions department who said that their Big Ten university is currently sending out acceptances--apparently, 'tis the season for that sort of stuff, but their application was due in late November. I'm just having a lot of anxiety constantly checking up on schools/materials (I'm in an MA program now so it's fun to get to worry about two sets of transcripts)--I had a heart attack today when I realized that my most important recommender forgot to submit to two schools (one that I loved, the other I feel "eh" about) and somehow my graduate university is incapable of getting a letter to another even though I've sent it three times now. So irritating. 

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Sadly, for sanity's sake, all schools are different.  It is *usual* for a lot to happen in February.  But as PurplePerson said, some schools do notify in March.  If I'm remembering right, U Missouri Columbia does sometimes, but I'd have to double-check that.  If you haven't heard for sure by that point, then maybe brace yourself.  But, seriously, don't count anything as a rejection unless you have the paper in your hand/inbox. Weird shit happens.

 

As for wait-listing, I don't know if all schools do it, but it seems a lot of them do.  If you're wondering about any of the places you applied, it can be helpful to look at past years in the results search, see if people posted WL notifications, or "in off WaitList!" acceptances.  There's also an old thread on here that will revive soon, where all us WaitListers hung out last year.  That can be a good place to do research.

 

And, to predict how a school will let you know...results board, again.  It's not a guaranteed help, because there's always a random weirdo or two in there who got a phone call instead of an Email, or something strange.  But It can paint a general picture for you.  And of course, you can always ask questions around here.

 

I wish you the absolute best of luck, in the results, and in the sanity-struggle.  Hopefully, we will be seeing giddy postings from you soon. :)  Also, your username makes me think we have stuff in common.  Where did you apply?

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Sadly, for sanity's sake, all schools are different.  It is *usual* for a lot to happen in February.  But as PurplePerson said, some schools do notify in March.  If I'm remembering right, U Missouri Columbia does sometimes, but I'd have to double-check that.  If you haven't heard for sure by that point, then maybe brace yourself.  But, seriously, don't count anything as a rejection unless you have the paper in your hand/inbox. Weird shit happens.

 

As for wait-listing, I don't know if all schools do it, but it seems a lot of them do.  If you're wondering about any of the places you applied, it can be helpful to look at past years in the results search, see if people posted WL notifications, or "in off WaitList!" acceptances.  There's also an old thread on here that will revive soon, where all us WaitListers hung out last year.  That can be a good place to do research.

 

And, to predict how a school will let you know...results board, again.  It's not a guaranteed help, because there's always a random weirdo or two in there who got a phone call instead of an Email, or something strange.  But It can paint a general picture for you.  And of course, you can always ask questions around here.

 

I wish you the absolute best of luck, in the results, and in the sanity-struggle.  Hopefully, we will be seeing giddy postings from you soon. :)  Also, your username makes me think we have stuff in common.  Where did you apply?

 

I just messaged you, Katia_chan. It's a funny story...  ;)

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I got to experience the full range of the emotional roller coaster that is the grad school admissions process, as I was accepted, rejected, AND waitlisted last year. (As it turns out, I would up getting admitted off of both waitlists.)

 

The overwhelming majority of Ph.D. programs notify in February, though some will stretch it out through March. In my experience, no good comes of an automated "check your status on the website" email; acceptances are usually personalized emails or phone calls. There are, I'm sure, exceptions to this rule.

 

I heard about one of my waitlists the first week in February-- the day after the first round of acceptances went out. The other informed me around March 1. The national deadline for decisions is April 15th, so most schools who keep a waitlist will try to let you know your status before then (in case you have other offers), though I've heard of some people getting waitlist conversions later in April or even May (these are usually people who don't have any other offers, obviously).

 

While rejections are largely not personalized, all of mine were kind, and I did not at all get the sense that they took some sort of perverse joy in it (I know you were exaggerating). The fact of the matter is that there are truly far more qualified candidates than there are spaces, and adcoms seems acutely aware of that and sensitive to the fact that many of us spend a great deal of time, effort, and money preparing these apps. 

 

Hope that helps!

Edited by gwarner13
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On the topic of waitlists, what happens if you get accepted into University A, accept, but then University B (dream school) takes you off the waitlist? Is it possible to switch? I realize it is probably rude for Uni A, but I'm curious what happens.

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It's in very poor form to go back on an acceptance.  So you're better off waiting to accept an offer until you've heard about your wait lists.

 

On a rare occasion this gets messy, like if the list doesn't get picked from until after the 15th, but in that case you need to be in communication with the various departments.  You're better off, though, to wait a longer while to accept an acceptance, rather than going back on one.  No one will imprison you for it, but it's pretty tacky, and a situation to be avoided if at all possible.

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On the topic of waitlists, what happens if you get accepted into University A, accept, but then University B (dream school) takes you off the waitlist? Is it possible to switch? I realize it is probably rude for Uni A, but I'm curious what happens.

There's a whole thread on this somewhere on this website. I actually asked the DGS of my school about this very issue. She said that some schools don't accept you off of wait lists until after the April 15th deadline. If your dream school or a school that is a better fit DOES accept you when you've already agreed to another offer, you should take it. Yes, it will offend the other school, but it's your future. You will burn a few bridges though, so you have to weigh if the school is worth it.

If Berkeley accepted me, for example, I would definitely risk burning some bridges. If a school ranked significantly lower accepted me, I probably wouldn't break another offer for it.

You have to do what is best in the long run for you.

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There's a whole thread on this somewhere on this website. I actually asked the DGS of my school about this very issue. She said that some schools don't accept you off of wait lists until after the April 15th deadline. If your dream school or a school that is a better fit DOES accept you when you've already agreed to another offer, you should take it. Yes, it will offend the other school, but it's your future. You will burn a few bridges though, so you have to weigh if the school is worth it.

If Berkeley accepted me, for example, I would definitely risk burning some bridges. If a school ranked significantly lower accepted me, I probably wouldn't break another offer for it.

You have to do what is best in the long run for you.

 

If I can jump in while you're on the topic of burning bridges... do programs/faculty tend to hold grudges if you choose another school--even if you haven't already signed with them? "Grudges" might not actually be the best way to put it, but this experience is giving me the opportunity to meet some incredible people in the field, and I'm beginning to worry about offending them if I take another offer. Especially since I might be applying for a position with these programs in a few more years...

 

Any insights here?

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If I can jump in while you're on the topic of burning bridges... do programs/faculty tend to hold grudges if you choose another school--even if you haven't already signed with them? "Grudges" might not actually be the best way to put it, but this experience is giving me the opportunity to meet some incredible people in the field, and I'm beginning to worry about offending them if I take another offer. Especially since I might be applying for a position with these programs in a few more years...

 

Any insights here?

 

I don't think so at all. In the end, they know that just as they did what was best for them in graduate school, you're doing what's best for you--that is, if you aren't talking about some arrogant asshole faculty member who bases his/her merit on whether or not students they know choose to work with someone else over them. 

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I don't think so at all. In the end, they know that just as they did what was best for them in graduate school, you're doing what's best for you--that is, if you aren't talking about some arrogant asshole faculty member who bases his/her merit on whether or not students they know choose to work with someone else over them. 

 

Ha! Thanks. That's pretty much what I thought. I just can't help but feel a little guilty when I'm talking to a faculty member who is excited and expressing interest in me, but in the back of my head, I'm thinking I'm probably not going to accept their offer. My overactive conscience just kicks in.  <_< It's a good problem to have, I guess.

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Yeah, especially if you haven't signed with them, you are fine.  They know what app season is like, and they know you have to do what is best for you.  They know how many different offers some people get; they probably did much the same thing.

 

Now, if you break an admission, then it might  get a bit hairier.  Not to say that you shouldn't do what is best for you there, but consider that you would be essentially walking out on them, and just keep that in mind.  It's like previous poster said, you have to weigh the merits of cutting out on a school, and consider the fact that some faculty could carry a grudge if you were applying for a job later. Starts to look like you don't take contracts seriously.

 

I know you were more looking for insight on the former, when you hadn't already signed any contracts, so take the second paragraph as just my ramblings. :)  For the situation you *actually* seem to be curious about, you are fine and dandy.  Just as the  schools made no promise to admit you, you made no promise to take their offer.

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  • 4 weeks later...

For the schools that have wait lists, do they notify you that you are waitlisted? Do they send out these notifications at/around the same time that they send out acceptances?

 

I've been wait-listed at two programs this season. One notified me promptly at the same time acceptances/rejections went out. The other didn't say anything--I sent an inquiring email and was told that I'm on what is a "functional" wait-list. I'm not actually sure what this means, to be honest... Aren't all wait-lists functional? I'd sure hate to be on one that isn't functional!  

 

Point is, it seems like most people are notified (at least semi-promptly) if they are wait-listed, but there may be some programs that don't communicate as quickly and directly. I would say that at this point in the season you would not be out of line sending any program an email asking about your status. 

 

hope my experience helps. 

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Although when and how acceptances/rejections are sent out varies from school to school, if you are desparate to know, the Results Search on this website is pretty helpful. If multiple people are posting that they were accepts and 24 hours later you still haven't heard, there is a very good chance you are either rejected or wait-listed. If you are waitlisted, don't give up hope or jump to accept another offer just because you feel pressured to. I knew multiple people who got accepted at the beginning of April off the waitlist.

 

I'm going to chime in here with one other piece of advice: once you see that schools have sent out their first round acceptances, it's ok to email the department and inquire about the status of your application. I didn't get some rejections until late March, but when I emailed the schools I was waiting on, they were all responsive and let me know directly whether or not my application was being considered. When I emailed U of Chicago like this, they sent me an email back saying well, we can't admit you to the PhD, but congrats! you have been admitted to our MA program. So, you never know. I don't think the departments will begrudge you for emailing them after they have sent out their acceptances.

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I usually go back to the program's information page on applying. Sometimes, they list a person or e-mail to contact with questions. Sometimes they don't list one, but might have a link to a general GSAS admissions page, which normally has a contact for the admissions office. Hope that helps! Basically, if the dept doesn't list someone to contact on their application page, I assume they don't want to be contacted directly with questions.

Edited by shortstack51
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