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tuschu

POI is angry, wants to withdraw an offer

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I narrowed down my offers to two, and I was trying to make a decision. Both my offers are due April 15th. Besides, I am waitlisted by my top choice.

POI from one of these two schools has been asking for my decision for several times. I was telling her that things are not fully clarified and I will notify her as soon as possible.

Yesterday I have received a very angry email from this POI, stating that she is sick of me not replying her offer and will withdraw it if I do not tell her what to do in a few days.

This is for me enough to reject her offer, but I am wondering, can she really do that, withdrawing an offer that is due April 15th before April 15th?

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Yeah, wow. You can tell her she made your decision very easy for you! What kind of ridiculous scare tactics is she using? That's a red flag for sure, especially since it sounds as though you've been polite in your correspondance, and nice enough to give her updates! You have until April 15 for a reason -- that is YOUR time. Don't let anyone try to bully you out of it.

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Whoa. The entire point of the April 15 agreement is that they're not allowed to demand a response before that date. Do you really want to work with someone who disregards rules for her own convenience, especially if those rules are meant to ensure fairness TO YOU?

 

I wouldn't want to work with this person at _all_.

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Thank you for all your responses.  Last weekend I thought over this POI's offer and another offer very hard, I was hesitating between them. After this event I will also definitely decline this offer.

 

I will do it today, just thinking over what to write on my e-mail, how to express that this is all wrong. 

Edited by tuschu

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Suggestions:

 

"I regret to inform you that..."

 

"There were several competitive offers, and I must decline appealing candidates..."

 

"It's not you, it's me..."

 

"I hope we can still be friends"

 

How much sarcasm could you pack in there without burning any bridges that you aren't looking to burn?

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totally agree with everything already said.. 

 

if that university happens to be a part of the council of graduate schools, i might even add this to your email (extracted for here: https://grad.berkeley.edu/policies/guides/b1-7-informing-applicants/)

 

Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) policy, “Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants,” which states: “Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution.” Detailed information on the Resolution can be found on the CGS website. Therefore, if a student is offered admission and financial support, the department may not set a deadline earlier than April 15 by which a student must respond.

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totally agree with everything already said..

if that university happens to be a part of the council of graduate schools, i might even add this to your email (extracted for here: https://grad.berkeley.edu/policies/guides/b1-7-informing-applicants/)

Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) policy, “Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants,” which states: “Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution.” Detailed information on the Resolution can be found on the CGS website. Therefore, if a student is offered admission and financial support, the department may not set a deadline earlier than April 15 by which a student must respond.

Thanks!! Yes the school is a participant of this agreement. I will add it as an attachment to my email.

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Thanks!! Yes the school is a participant of this agreement. I will add it as an attachment to my email.

 

I wouldn't. Keep it very professional--no sarcasm!! Even if you don't want to have this person as your advisor, she obviously does similar work to yours and so I am sure you'll run into her again. She'll be at the same conferences you'll attend, she'll review your papers/grants/abstracts, she might be on a hiring committee when you graduate (if there happens to be a job in her department). People remember grad school applicants who go out of line. Don't be that person, there is NOTHING for you to gain except maybe some satisfaction at having "zinged" her now, but trust me it's not going to be worth it. 

 

That said, I agree with everyone that this seems like a person to avoid as an advisor and/or collaborator. It might be worth to keep in mind that some schools lose the ability to re-offer admissions/funding to students after April 15 and that there might be people on a waitlist, so while she is not supposed to do this, it might not be completely without a reason that she wants you to make a decision. If that's the case she should have explained the reasons for pressuring you, and should have backed down when you said you're still waiting to hear from other schools before you can make a decision. So either way, she's not looking too good right now, but try and keep a level head about it and don't do anything to burn any bridges. 

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coming from a person who's been waitlisted, I can see where the professor's coming from. even though she might have been rude, I wouldn't really hold it against her. first impressions don't always tell you everything.

 

 

and working in a place where the work flow process frequently suffers bottlenecks due to individual hold ups, I can understand why the professor may be fixed on getting shit done and move forward. Friend of mine took two months to accept his offer from MIT. I'm happy for him, but fucking really?

Edited by spectastic

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I wouldn't. Keep it very professional--no sarcasm!! Even if you don't want to have this person as your advisor, she obviously does similar work to yours and so I am sure you'll run into her again. She'll be at the same conferences you'll attend, she'll review your papers/grants/abstracts, she might be on a hiring committee when you graduate (if there happens to be a job in her department). People remember grad school applicants who go out of line. Don't be that person, there is NOTHING for you to gain except maybe some satisfaction at having "zinged" her now, but trust me it's not going to be worth it. 

 

(emphasis added)--definitely agree with this!! There's a line between standing up for yourself / not letting yourself get pushed around and acting unprofessionally because the other person was unprofessional first. 

 

You are definitely in the right here--if you are waiting to hear back from a waitlisted place then the nature of the system is that sometimes you have to hold onto one (or two, max) offers right until the April 15 deadline.

 

However, the prof has good reason and the right to continue to ask you about your decision status too, I think. If the prof has funding for one student only and you were slightly better than a second choice, they might be anxious that by the time you decide somewhere else, their second choice might have gone somewhere else too and they are stuck with either no one or candidates they didn't like. 

 

As to whether or not the prof is able to withdraw an offer, it might depend on the school. For some US schools, the admission decision is made by the department/a committee, not individual profs. However, a particular prof may have committed to taking you on as a student and/or funding you and this is definitely something they can change their mind on (or within whatever agreements they made with their own department). So, while a prof might not really be able to revoke your offer of admission, they can definitely refuse to work with you and if you take the admission offer anyways, you might end up with no one to work with. 

 

I would definitely agree that making threats and getting angry sounds like unprofessional behaviour on the prof's part and that is not excusable, even with good reason. But that does not mean you should respond in kind. The April 15 thing is not even a right that you have--the school has every right to change their mind and revoke their offer at any time. It's a crappy thing to do though, but there are no laws against being crappy people. There is nothing to be gained from explaining why they are wrong or attaching the CGS resolution or any of that. Just say that you have decided to attend another school!

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I would just send a very professional, polite email to her, thanking her for the opportunity but that you have decided to pursue another opportunity.

 

I would CC the department head or whoever in teh department you have been cooresponding with though and make sure you respond to the nasty email instead of creating a new one... this way you are completely polite but the department head will see the email she sent you.

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If I could double up vote this comment I would. Discrete, professional but gets the point across.

 

I would just send a very professional, polite email to her, thanking her for the opportunity but that you have decided to pursue another opportunity.

 

I would CC the department head or whoever in teh department you have been cooresponding with though and make sure you respond to the nasty email instead of creating a new one... this way you are completely polite but the department head will see the email she sent you.

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I would just send a very professional, polite email to her, thanking her for the opportunity but that you have decided to pursue another opportunity.

 

I would CC the department head or whoever in teh department you have been cooresponding with though and make sure you respond to the nasty email instead of creating a new one... this way you are completely polite but the department head will see the email she sent you.

 

I would go one step further and email the department head directly - copying the original email - stating quite simply "this was a major factor in my decision go somewhere else"

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Guest Gnome Chomsky

So, while a prof might not really be able to revoke your offer of admission, they can definitely refuse to work with you and if you take the admission offer anyways, you might end up with no one to work with. 

So you're saying it's a thing for POIs to ignore students they really like and make them sit alone in the lunch room? Sounds a bit immature. Is this really how academics act? 

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I'm sorry that this is totally off topic but I can relate to this.

In a nutshell, I submitted a final draft of my UG thesis to my whole committee several days before the due date. My main advisor emailed the next morning with minor spelling/grammatical corrections. I emailed my reader to say please disregard previous email and I will send a new final draft that afternoon. Said reader replied with (exact quote) "This is fine" and her signature. That's it. Perhaps I (apparently) misunderstood but I took that to mean she was fine with what I sent and I didn't need to resend anything else.

Fast forward to today when I went to get a signature on my thesis from said reader. The moment I walked in the door I was told that I would "Sit down, look her in the eyes, and listen." She proceeded to berate me for several minutes accusing me of being disorganized and then informed me that I "Can't treat people this way" and "Would never get away with this in grad school." I was so shocked and confused that this woman was yelling at me for misunderstanding her email and I have never been treated this way or spoken to this way by anyone in this academic setting. I'm still not sure what I'm "getting away with" or how I had "mistreated her." Apparently I had kept her waiting on the final draft and did not allow her two weeks to review it. Problem is she is 1) not my main advisor and NEVER gave me any sort of schedule much less a two week minimum and 2) if she was so desperate for it then why didn't she follow up and ask me why I hadn't sent it?? She said the thesis was good, writing was good, but it seems she was simply mad at me personally.

Sorry for long post but I just am still shocked that someone who I had so much respect for and have been nothing but grateful and polite to would treat me as though I was one of her children who had misbehaved. I realize now that I should have just sent it anyways (even though it was nearly identical) but I honestly didn't want to bug her with another email because this is a woman who is so busy (apparently) she needs two secretaries.

Anyways, sorry for posting this in a thread with a different topic but I felt I could relate because this woman was so rude and unprofessional. Just needed to vent.

Edited by Yce3f7c

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I narrowed down my offers to two, and I was trying to make a decision. Both my offers are due April 15th. Besides, I am waitlisted by my top choice.

POI from one of these two schools has been asking for my decision for several times. I was telling her that things are not fully clarified and I will notify her as soon as possible.

Yesterday I have received a very angry email from this POI, stating that she is sick of me not replying her offer and will withdraw it if I do not tell her what to do in a few days.

This is for me enough to reject her offer, but I am wondering, can she really do that, withdrawing an offer that is due April 15th before April 15th?

She clearly has some major issues. I hope your other offer was better than this one because I would hate to see your years of hard work suffering for the next few years under this evil prof. I would not work with her. Grad school is more about the research fit and supervisor so I hope it all works out !! 

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I would go one step further and email the department head directly - copying the original email - stating quite simply "this was a major factor in my decision go somewhere else"

 

Again -- you don't know how that will be perceived. You risk burning a bridge doing this. bsharpe's suggestion makes a lot more sense.

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Again -- you don't know how that will be perceived. You risk burning a bridge doing this. bsharpe's suggestion makes a lot more sense.

Throwing in my 2 cents to agree. It's the far more professional option and it gets the point across to the program that they have a professor acting inappropriately. And if they don't care, there is nothing you can do about that toxic culture anyway.

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So you're saying it's a thing for POIs to ignore students they really like and make them sit alone in the lunch room? Sounds a bit immature. Is this really how academics act? 

 

Well, no, if the POI told the student they are withdrawing their offer to work in the POI's lab and then the student won't be someone they like anymore. In many programs, when you arrive at grad school you don't really have a supervisor and you find one during the first year or two. If the POI has decided they won't be wanting to work with you, then you'll be out of luck when you ask them if they will be your supervisor! 

 

I don't think being in academia prevents people from being human and all the bad things that come with being human (and all the good things too).

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Thank you all for your help!

I eventually did not attach the April 15 resolution, since I could not understand how binding this agreement is for graduate schools.I think schools legally can do whatever they want including revoking offers.

I was also considering adding the department head while I was replying the email, but I thought this may be unprofessional again.

I wrote a two-line e-mail, just saying nothing more than "I decline your offer. Thanks."

But the online webpage asks why I declined to attend the university. If someone ever reads it, they will see my complaints.

I was very lucky to have multiple offers in my hand. I hope everyone gets the offer he/she deserves.

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I would have waited until April 15 to decline. This way she doesn't get what she wants and you send a polite notification email so you're not at fault.

 

This would be more likely to screw over another applicant than to "show" the professor.

 

Seems kinda unprofessional to sit on a decision and risk someone else not getting funding just to prove a point. 

 

Also, I know this has already been resolved, but the April 15th resolution is only as binding as any individual school wants to make it. There's certainly nothing legal about it, nor are there any direct repercussions for a school not following it. The CGS resolution is a gentlemen's agreement, so to speak, from a group of schools to help make recruiting more uniform and less cutthroat. 

 

I think what the professor did was in bad taste, but you can't know all of the circumstances surrounding why they're pushing it this way to make a judgement call on them as an individual. 

 

Realize they aren't someone you want to work with, politely decline, and move on. As has been pointed out there's nothing to be gained from parting shots. 

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