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Pavi

Have you ever been accepted by top ranked programs and rejected by some that are ranked lower?

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Personally I haven't, but I have seen people on here that have. If your research topic matches the higher ranked program better than the lower ranked program it is entirely possible. 

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Could also be a matter of the quality of statements, writing samples, etc. If a lower ranked program has an earlier deadline, you could easily submit documents that are just not as polished as those submitted to higher ranked programs with later deadlines.

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It could totally happen. Acceptance usually has more to do with research fit than anything else so if you fit better with the higher ranked school then you will be more likely to get in there. I think it also has to do with the professor's "rank". For example, there are many ivys that I would never consider applying to because their professors arent as well know as i would like while there are many professors at top 50ish ranked school who are basically celeberties. My chance of getting in with the celebrities is probably much lower than with the unknown ivy professors.

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I'm not sure yet, but I've been accepted/interviewed at all of my top choices and haven't heard anything yet from my more conservative choices. Kinda strange I think . . . 

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I recently interviewed at Princeton and stayed with a current social psychology grad student. He told me how he got into both Princeton and Northwestern (both great programs), and got rejected from the University of Georgia (my current school, mediocre program). So it can happen!

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It is actually quite common. Lower ranked schools , a lot of the times, screen students purely on numbers. Your application may not get reviewed beyond the GRE scores in some cases and if you get lucky may be your GPA maybe looked at. With high ranked schools, they may be willing to take the risk in students even if their GRE or GPA lower than their average applicants as long as they deem the students will excel in their program. Do bear in mind, this isn't a standard operating procedure for all high ranked or low ranked schools.

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I don't know if this is true for graduate schools, but undergrad programs will sometimes reject a student with high stats on the assumption that the student will not accept a place at the lower ranked school even if it's offered, because they'll be offered slots at many higher ranking institutions. It's one of the reasons schools ask you to list where else you're applying on your applications. Some schools would rather take a student who will definitely attend that school, even if their stats are a little lower, than take a higher ranking student who will go someplace else.  If they take the higher ranking student, they have to put other students on the wait list, and potentially lose both the wait-listed students and the high ranking student to other schools.   

 

Also, every school is looking to round out their program, so it can sometimes be a simple factor of intangible statistics.  They only want so many students in a particular discipline, from a particular geographic area, with a particular background, etc.  So in some cases, the lower ranked program may not be looking for your specific attributes, even if you have good grades. 

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just happened to me. admitted to the higher ranked schools, rejected by lower ranked ones.

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Yes, yes I have! Accepted by one of the top programs (declined their offer) and, most of the schools that I thought would be most inclined to accept me, were the first to reject me (note: my research interest matched nicely with POIs at lower ranked schools and my SOP was virtually unchanged [just the part at the end where you tell them how much you love their program and your POIs was modified appropriately]!)!!!!!

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Yup! I got into a top program and was rejected by my safety school. Though I found out I could've gotten in by applying under my current advisor (it's my undergrad institution), then I could have switched advisors once I was in. But I thought that would be dishonest.

Edited by PhDerp

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Yup! I got into a top program and was rejected by my safety school. Though I found out I could've gotten in by applying under my current advisor (it's my undergrad institution), then I could have switched advisors once I was in. But I thought that would be dishonest.

 

Hey PhDerp could you share what safety school(s) did reject you? It's okay if you don't feel comfortable telling ^.^ 

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Hey PhDerp could you share what safety school(s) did reject you? It's okay if you don't feel comfortable telling ^.^ 

 

It's UMass Amherst (the MS/PhD program). I do software engineering there, and I could've gotten in if I applied for that kind of research, but I want to do AI... So my advisor couldn't vouch for me. :P

 

It was my only safety school because I already qualified for a master's fellowship there and was guaranteed in on that. I didn't expect to get into a PhD program until after I finished my master's, so I was pleasantly surprised to have gotten in anywhere!

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It's UMass Amherst (the MS/PhD program). I do software engineering there, and I could've gotten in if I applied for that kind of research, but I want to do AI... So my advisor couldn't vouch for me. :P

 

It was my only safety school because I already qualified for a master's fellowship there and was guaranteed in on that. I didn't expect to get into a PhD program until after I finished my master's, so I was pleasantly surprised to have gotten in anywhere!

 

Oh I see, UMass Amherst is a great school too, but of course not as great as your top choice! :D Thank you very much for sharing and congrats! ^^

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I got waitlisted at Laurier (ranked #36 in Canada) and accept at University of Toronto (ranked #1 in Canada).  I think it just depends on what the specific program is looking for.

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Yes I did. I got accepted into a top program (rank 1 in the entire country) and got rejected by rank 2 and rank 3 "all rounded schools", and I was accepted everywhere else.

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UC Irvine, which was one of my favorites and also one of the lower ranked among the universities I applied to rejected me for my grades. Other universities higher up admitted me. Likewise, I have been/expecting to be rejected by Maryland, Iowa, UCSB. But I think these had more to do with fit and my interactions with the faculty. But yeah, Irvine's rejection was completely unexpected as it was a great fit.

Ultimately, I was interviewed/admitted by Duke, CMU, and Wash U. I chose Duke.

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This happened to me.  I got into the most selective/highly ranked schools on my list and was rejected from many that are lower ranked.  Confused and surprised me, but I can't say that I felt inclined to complain!  B)

 

As bsharpe269 notes, I think fit was a big factor in my outcomes.

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I definitely have. So far the only "yes" I've gotten is from the program I thought I wouldn't even get an interview with!

 

I agree with what one of the posters above said--the more selective programs are apt to look more closely at all of the applications in general than a school on a lower tier. 

Edited by eleanor

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This is a good topic! I recently got accepted to graduate school at the University of Washington (ranked #3) and I am waiting on a decision from Cal State U Long Beach (ranked #50-#60). My first choice is actually CSLUB, but you never know!

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