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I had accepted a funded offer at university A way back in March because that was the only funded offer I had received at that point. Yesterday, I was accepted to University B off the waitlist. University B is a better a fit for me for so many reasons. More money, friends and relatives live few hours away, professor I really wanted to work with etc. After reading online that I would need a written release from University A before I accepted the offer from B (since its past the national deadline), I decided to turn down University B.

I have been upset since then. In one way, I feel relieved because it seemed unethical to me turning down the first offer that saved me after the deadline. It didn't seem fair putting them in trouble. But I also feel like I have let a great opportunity slip.

Do you guys think University A would have understood my position and granted me a written release had I asked them? Has this happened to anyone else? How would you have handled this? When I turned down the offer B stating the reason honestly, the program advisor told me that I was doing that right thing at this point. So that makes me feel better. But I still can't help feeling a little crushed.

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I think you did the right thing. I also think you would likely have felt bad either way. Many people will pop up here to tell you that you should have just thought about what was best for you, but understand that more people acting ethically within the system will likely benefit you in the long run. People changing their decisions after April 15th can often wreck havoc on programs, and that in turn can make things worse for other applicants. As I've written in this space before, even people who have everything go exactly the way they planned in this process often end up with crushing buyer's remorse. In 6 months, you will be firmly ensconced in your program, living the day-to-day life of a grad student, and will barely remember this incident. 

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Honestly, I think you did the wrong thing. You have to think about yourself and yourself alone. Screw ethics. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity in which you will be grounded in a new culture, city, and program for 7 years. If you think youd be happier and more successful at another place, well then, go there. I would have. But it's too late now, so just hope it all works out at where you decided to attend.

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You made a poor decision. This isn't the case of "screwing ethics" but a matter of what would have been most beneficial for your training. However, that said, the decision has been made, and does not foreclose the possibility that you will outperform in your chosen program.

Edited by Snglo-Aaxon
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You guys are seriously going to have a hard time building a career in the academy-- a very small world-- if you think that "screw ethics" is a reasonable response to this kind of situation.

 

Clearly, I did not say "screw ethics," but an appropriate response in OP's case would have been to engage in a discussion with the relevant departments before undertaking a serious decision. All this is by-the-by, and I am sure she/he will nonetheless have a very successful career. This is a more a learning situation than anything.

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Clearly, I did not say "screw ethics," but an appropriate response in OP's case would have been to engage in a discussion with the relevant departments before undertaking a serious decision. All this is by-the-by, and I am sure she/he will nonetheless have a very successful career. This is a more a learning situation than anything.

But the post above you did.

 It's impossible that it revolves around all of us.

So, Eternal, I think you did the "right" thing. Soon you'll be part of a new community where you'll start making a name for yourself. 

 

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And guys, its an M.A. program. So I did feel that it was just for 2 years and I will definitely have a chance to explore another place for my PhD. I might have acted differently if it was a question of 5 to 7 years. But even so, saying No to the one school that saw some kind of promise and potential in my application when other schools placed me on waitlists, feels wrong. And I am sure I will be happy in my program. The department has been very welcoming and I have made couple of friends who are in the 2nd year. But I would be lying if I said it doesn't sting. I will keep wondering what my life could have been in the other university. But like you guys had mentioned, with time and all the good times I will have in my program, I will probably feel this was for the best.

Thank you so much for your inputs. I will definitely keep your opinions in mind while I apply for PhD.

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But the post above you did.

 It's impossible that it revolves around all of us.

So, Eternal, I think you did the "right" thing. Soon you'll be part of a new community where you'll start making a name for yourself. 

 

To clarify, I wrote: "This isn't the case of "screwing ethics" but a matter of what would have been most beneficial for your training." Anyway, I'm not going to get into argument about the nuances. But rather, I'd prefer to wish OP all the best.

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Seriously, and particularly because this is for an MA, I would encourage you not to lose any sleep over your decision. Be (eternally) optimistic, and squeeze everything you can from the MA program you've committed to, enjoy your time there, and knock your PhD apps out of the park.

To be honest, interests change and evolve. You may settle into an entirely different track by the time you are applying for PhD programs. What is most important with the MA (I think) is to have supportive faculty and a chance to strengthen your own interests and sense of direction.

And, of course, that funding is always important.

So don't sweat it, and be excited.

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I agree that for an MA you've probably made a fine choice. You have funding, and even though the other is more money, it shouldn't be a huge factor in your decision making! It may have put you on slightly shakey ground with the school you retracted your acceptance from. I think you will be plenty happy. :)

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Seems like not many recognized that there was some serious risk in engaging the present school's department about maybe leaving. If you're willing to ask, you're willing to do it. That means if they say no and they don't want to give their blessing, they will also not like you very much when you decide to go ahead and stay with them.

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JLRC exactly my point. That's the reason, I did nog ask my university about it. That's one of the main reasons I let the other offer go. I didn't want to be on bad terms with the department especially after they have been so nice to me.

Apixelrevolt thanks :)

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And if the school you had to turn down has a good Ph.D. program that you might want to attend, they may remember your communication with them and this situation when you apply and consider you more because they think you made an ethical choice.

You may be correct about this. I did explain to them how they were a better fit for me but it didn't seem right to turn down the offer at this point. I also mentioned that hopefully I am lucky enough to get a second chance when I apply for their PhD.

The program advisor was very kind and said he wished he was able to extend an offer to me earlier to beat the competion. He added, 'I hope you consider us when it is time for your PhD.'

So I am glad that I have left things on good terms with them.

And I feel a LOT better after talking to you guys about it. So thank you :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay, I just want to point out for the record that asking the program to which you've been accepted for a formal release is *not* unethical. It would be unethical if you signed on with Program B before getting a release from Program A, or just didn't show up to Program A in August. But following the proper procedures and being upfront and transparent is not unethical. Here's more info: https://www.cgsnet.org/ckfinder/userfiles/files/CGS_Resolution.pdf

 

You're not married to a program just because you've signed on. Think, if it was truly unethical to change grad school plans, then programs would not extend offers to anyone after April 15 and such a release procedure would not exist. 

 

Yes, it can probably piss off professors and program directors by pulling out at a later date, but at that point you have to weigh the pros and cons. If you're at the very beginning of a grad career and the program you're backing out of isn't a big player, then you'll probably be okay. I do think that programs on some level expect this sort of thing to happen. That's why they keep waitlists into July.

 

I don't think you should stress about this, though. It's just a master's, so it's not really a big deal. (I ended up going to my last choice school for my MA and I loved it.) But in the future you might want to consult your advisors and professors before making a decision like this. Don't let legalistic language on a webpage intimidate you.

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Okay, I just want to point out for the record that asking the program to which you've been accepted for a formal release is *not* unethical. It would be unethical if you signed on with Program B before getting a release from Program A, or just didn't show up to Program A in August. But following the proper procedures and being upfront and transparent is not unethical. Here's more info: https://www.cgsnet.org/ckfinder/userfiles/files/CGS_Resolution.pdf

 

You're not married to a program just because you've signed on. Think, if it was truly unethical to change grad school plans, then programs would not extend offers to anyone after April 15 and such a release procedure would not exist. 

 

 

That was not the question that was asked. 

 

Ethical or not, I think people have to understand: the "whatever, as long as I get mine" attitude that permeates around here hurts both programs and applicants. It really does make things much harder on programs when everybody waits until the last minute to decide, and that in turn hurts other applicants who are waiting. Whenever people get mad here about programs taking forever to get back to them, they should instead get mad at whoever is holding up the process by not deciding in a timely fashion. Just my 2 cents.

Edited by ComeBackZinc
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That was not the question that was asked. 

 

Ethical or not, I think people have to understand: the "whatever, as long as I get mine" attitude that permeates around here hurts both programs and applicants. It really does make things much harder on programs when everybody waits until the last minute to decide, and that in turn hurts other applicants who are waiting. Whenever people get mad here about programs taking forever to get back to them, they should instead get mad at whoever is holding up the process by not deciding in a timely fashion. Just my 2 cents.

 

Yeah, it kind of was the question that was asked. The OP said it felt "unethical" to turn down the first program. Others responded with "it's good you did the ethical thing" or "screw ethics" or something. Really, initiating a process to get a release from a program is NOT unethical as long as one follows the proper procedures, consults with the programs (as well as advisors), and is upfront and transparent in one's dealings.

 

Moreover, I don't understand your contention that this kind thing is the applicant's fault, and that a program's failure to get back to its candidates time can somehow be traced back to applicants acting indecisively. This process is very messy; sometimes it's the program's fault, sometimes it's the university's fault, sometimes it's the applicant's fault. Sometimes funds are caught up in union negotiations. Sometimes people commit to a grad school and then can't go for whatever reason, thereby opening up a spot. Sometimes people "hold out" as long as they can before April 15 for funding reasons--and that's very understandable. But yes, it means that people will be getting off waitlists after April 15. And I'm sorry, but denouncing this attitude as "as long as I get mine!" opportunism is a little naive. When you're talking about the material realities that grad students face in graduate school and beyond--years of living in poverty, the possibility of years adjuncting afterwards--then telling people to worry excessively the possibility of offending program niceties seems very unwise. True, the material realities of grad school do not justify behaving unethically (as in playing programs off each other when you have no intention of attending one of them, or signing on with a school without getting a release from another) ... but worrying about your own financial well-being and long-term career potential is not being a grubby unethical opportunist. And yes, programs understand this.

 

Bottom line is that if you're unsure you should talk to advisors and other professors.

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I hope that, when the endless string of complaints that pop up around here, "why hasn't program X gotten back to me yet, these is so frustrating, what kind of a show are they running there, etc etc etc," you always pop up to tell them that every individual grad student should only care about his or her own "material realities" and that means they should pipe down.

 

Oh, you don't do that? OK, cool.

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I hope that, when the endless string of complaints that pop up around here, "why hasn't program X gotten back to me yet, these is so frustrating, what kind of a show are they running there, etc etc etc," you always pop up to tell them that every individual grad student should only care about his or her own "material realities" and that means they should pipe down.

 

Oh, you don't do that? OK, cool.

 

Nowhere did I say that people should *only* care about their material realities. Give me a break.

 

But yeah, seriously, I think it's bizarre that you blame applicants themselves for these problems, especially when administrative dysfunction starts at the highest level of the university system. A bit like blaming the victim, huh? The program in question is actually the one that put the OP in this situation, and again, if making a decision like this after the deadline is so very unethical, then shame on them for even extending the offer. If Program A loses a student to Program B, then they should perhaps blame Program B for not getting its shit together. Or perhaps they should take a long look at their own program for not being able to offer a very attractive funding package. But I don't know too many professors--who, by the way, understand this sort of thing quite well--who would lash out at a young graduate student for honestly worrying about their financial situation.

 

I think it is downright stupid to tell people to forgo a better shot at financial security--especially if that "better shot" means putting food on the table or having less student debt--in order to be "nice" or to avoid inconveniencing other people. Really, we're talking about convenience here--not taking away a spot from someone else, not taking away someone else's fellowship money, not taking a TAship from someone else. We're basically talking about people being uncomfortable because their decision time is coming down to the deadline. And yes, sometimes it comes down to or past the deadline. That was something I fully understood when I applied for programs, so frankly I don't understand it when people complain about not having heard from Program X as if it's the worst thing in the world.

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First of all, again: the actual original post, rather than the one that you have invented in your mind, was one in which the original poster had already decided to forgo a different opportunity. I told that poster that I think s/he made a good decision. And I did because the system depends on people respecting the April 15th agreement. Not just programs, not just applicants, but all of them together. It does not make sense to advocate for an action that, if many people took it, would make the system unworkable. Also: you don't know, actually, whether they're taking something away from somebody else. You don't know that a program will be able to fill a slot if someone withdraws, and in the funding scheme of many universities, if you don't use a funding line, you lose it. 

 

More to the point: why do you want to join a system that is as incompetent and corrupt as you seem to assume? And the reality is that people are not going to be putting food on their table in the long run even if they get into their dream program with dream funding. Anybody who wants to position themselves for the best material realities shouldn't apply to graduate school in the humanities at all.

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First of all, again: the actual original post, rather than the one that you have invented in your mind, was one in which the original poster had already decided to forgo a different opportunity. I told that poster that I think s/he made a good decision.

 

I'm aware of what the original post said. I actually don't think he or she necessarily made a bad decision, though I think they should have talked it through with professors and advisors before acting. I was simply offering input in case anyone else in the future is faced with the same decision.

 

 

 

And I did because the system depends on people respecting the April 15th agreement. Not just programs, not just applicants, but all of them together. It does not make sense to advocate for an action that, if many people took it, would make the system unworkable.

 

Perhaps, but the fact remains that programs make offers after April 15, and the Council has a clause governing this exact situation. So it is legal; it is allowed. It is nonsense to get on here and tell people that it is unethical for them to change their minds when there is a procedure that facilitates this very process. Such a thing is NOT against the rules as long as you do it properly.

 

If program-changing does begin to compromise programs, then perhaps the Council will have to revisit that rule and make it so that April 15 is much more binding. But until then, it's not the individual applicant's fault for doing something that is fully within their right to do. Telling someone that their sanctioned behavior is bringing down the whole system is just ridiculous. Moreover, you've got no evidence that this kind of maneuvering is really that widespread, or that it's making the system unworkable.

 

 

 

Also: you don't know, actually, whether they're taking something away from somebody else.

 

They aren't.

 

 

 

More to the point: why do you want to join a system that is as incompetent and corrupt as you seem to assume?

 

Is this question for real?

 

 

 

And the reality is that people are not going to be putting food on their table in the long run even if they get into their dream program with dream funding.

 

Nope, that's not true. It might not have been the case for the OP, but offers can vary wildly. My program alone makes very different offers to people, ranging from 14k to 28k. I'm guessing that the people on the higher end of that have a lot less worrying when it comes to putting food on the table.

Edited by hashslinger
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Perhaps, but the fact remains that programs make offers after April 15, and the Council has a clause governing this exact situation. So it is legal; it is allowed. It is nonsense to get on here and tell people that it is unethical for them to change their minds when there is a procedure that facilitates this very process. Such a thing is NOT against the rules as long as you do it properly.

 

Again: that is not germane to the actual discussion at hand. Also, nobody said a word about what is "legal." That's a complete non sequitur. I care about what is courteous, what is fair, and what is most beneficial to the most people. If you're completely stuck on what you can get away with, that's fine; I'm not interested.

 

 

 

 But until then, it's not the individual applicant's fault for doing something that is fully within their right to do. Telling someone that their sanctioned behavior is bringing down the whole system is just ridiculous. Moreover, you've got no evidence that this kind of maneuvering is really that widespread, or that it's making the system unworkable.

 

Not only do I not have evidence for it, I'm not making any claim of that kind. Given a decision that (I know you're having trouble absorbing this point) was already made, I told someone that adults often have to balance their own best interest against those of others in a broader system. It could have materially hurt the program s/he had already committed to if that acceptance had been rescinded. I think she made the right decision in not doing so. I get that you simultaneously want to say that the only thing that matters is what an individual things is best for him or her while acting like that's not what you're arguing, but I'm just pointing out that that is what you're arguing.

 

 

 

They aren't.

 

You don't know that. Saying something repeatedly and authoritatively doesn't make it true. Speaking as someone already in a program, having watched the madness of application season unfold, I assure you: these decisions are very important, and a whole host of other people's lives are dependent on them. I know you want to ignore this point, but if that poster had backed out after April 15th, that could have caused headaches for a whole variety of other people. It's the rampant tendency of people in this process to act selfishly that hurts other applicants who have their lives in limbo. It is not a question of programs vs. applicants, no matter how much you might like to push it in that direction.

 

 

Nope, that's not true. It might not have been the case for the OP, but offers can vary wildly. My program alone makes very different offers to people, ranging from 14k to 28k. I'm guessing that the people on the higher end of that have a lot less worrying when it comes to putting food on the table.

 

 

I said in the long run, which is a reference the adjunct future of the vast majority of the people who post here.

 

 

Is this question for real?

 

 

Yes, the question is for real. Why do you want to be part of a system that you've identified as corrupt and incompetent, particularly given your lack of regard for the actual programs themselves?

Edited by ComeBackZinc
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