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Post-Decision: What about those students?


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Made decision this week, informed accepts/declines to profs and wondering whether I should also write something to students with whom I spoke by email/skype about programs which I declined. What would be more polite: let it lapse or letting them know?


Two types of students too: those with whom I spoke on Skype, then sent thank-you notes so the conversation reached closure, and those with whom I was planning to maybe meet but I'm not gonna visit the school I declined (obviously). I think I should definitely shoot the latter folks a message, but as for the former folks, I'm not so sure.


I mean, these are folks with whom I will be in the field for the rest of my life. Don't wanna antagonize them. Problem is, if I do tell them that I accepted another school, they might be a bit upset and maybe perceive it as me being boasty or condescending.


And finally, whether you think this could wait until after Apr 15, as I seriously have a lot going right now for me to spend time tracking those emails down and responding in the style and tone appropriate for each person.

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I think you do not have to inform the current graduate students about your decision, except for the ones that you had close contact with (e.g. they hosted you in their home when you visited) or became friends with and intend to continue your relationship. If you have already set up a meeting with current students at a school you have yet to visit, you should definitely let them know (and let them know ASAP). If you just talked about potentially meeting but had not confirmed anything, then you probably don't have to let them know, unless you either had a prolonged conversation or you feel like they have put time aside for you that day and want to make sure they don't waste their time.


In the past 5 years of being a graduate student, I have never received a message from any of the prospective students I talked to about my program during their visit (except for the ones I knew personally prior to their application). And that's fine! Also, our department tells us who is coming more or less at the same time they find out from you anyhow. So it's likely the current graduate students will know too!

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I wouldn't mind not receiving a thank you but most of the students I corresponded with did send me a thank you note, and it was always appreciated. It doesn't matter whether you wait until April 15; they're busy too and whenever it comes it will be appreciated. It won't piss them off to say you went somewhere else.

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It really reflects positively on you that you would consider this. I agree with TakeruK, it would be a nice touch to contact students you interacted with closely, but not necessarily all of them. Speaking as a current grad, your decisions do affect us (even more so in small tight-knit programs) and we certainly get curious about how these decisions turn out. We don't hold them against you, we just like to know. I wouldn't expect any reasonable student to be offended that you decided to go elsewhere. Grad programs are all about fit, so they really shouldn't interpret it as you saying that another program is objectively better than the one they're in. 


This is only somewhat similar, but I was very involved in our 2-day recruitment event along with several other current students. Our top 3 favorites were chosen to receive offers, and we were pretty excited. Lo and behold, a couple of us emailed these students to congratulate them, and heard absolutely nothing back. In fact, there was one applicant we all rallied behind who said he would accept an offer from us, then chose to go somewhere else and only decided to reply to the DGS and not the 3 current students who contacted him after he first received the offer. I'm not going to lie, that colored my opinion... I understand that applicants are considering high-pressure decisions and it can be confusing knowing what to say to current students without revealing too much or saying the wrong thing, but when people who spent 2 days hosting you send you friendly enthusiastic messages to congratulate you, for chrissake, at least reply with a "thanks!" and a brief verdict once you've made your decision. Like you wisely pointed out, we will very likely see each other again and possibly work together someday. Good manners and showing appreciation are never a bad move. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for your input, sorry for the late reply; didn't check the forum for a week and it now feels like I've done the exact thing the students in your post did - not even saying a thank you... so sorry!


I ended up writing a note to just those students with whom there was still some immediate interaction to be had.

Edited by random_grad
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