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Thinking about those on waitlist


hgp
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How much does making a decision 3/20 impact students on the waitlist vs 4/10 or even the 15th. I see people on the forum asking those who are going to decline to decline early, but I've mostly heard people say to focus on your own decision. I've also heard of people getting accepted post April 15th because a cohort wasn't the size the school wanted so I don't know how much to take the waitlist into consideration. 

Edited by hgp
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It depends completely on the program. But don't use this consideration when making your decision. You need to make the best choice for you, academically and personally.

 

I'm not saying to ignore the waitlist though. You should simply take into account the fact that a waitlist likely exists, so it is your responsibility to make your decision as promptly as possible.

 

For example, your signature currently indicates 7 acceptances and 3 waitlists. If you are able to, I believe it would be responsible to start declining some of your acceptances that you know you won't pick. For example, once I visited schools, I was quickly able to determine my top 3 choices and declined the others right away while I took a few more days to make my final decision. I'm not saying you have to decline some of your 7 schools (some people need that many options due to other considerations like a SO finding a job etc.). But if you are worried about the people on the waitlist, I think declining schools after you are sure you don't want to go would be the best way to do this.

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To answer your question, it impacts them in the sense that they will hear back from the school sooner and have more time to make a decision (if it's an acceptance).

 

I agree with TakeruK though in that you should really do what's best for you. I'm sure at this point you've quasi-ranked the 7 programs that you've been accepted to in your head, so if you have the luxury of declining any of them, it would speed things up for those on the waitlist.

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To answer your question, it impacts them in the sense that they will hear back from the school sooner and have more time to make a decision (if it's an acceptance).

 

Maybe, but also maybe not. If a school wants to admit X students, it's fairly unlikely that they will make exactly X offers. They will make X+N offers where N is some number they know from past experience. So, it's likely that no new admission decisions will be made until they hear at least N declines. 

 

And even if there is a 1:1 ratio between a decline and an acceptance off the waitlist, some schools may choose to see all of their accepts/declines before making any new offers because they might want to balance their incoming class one way or another. Schools do not necessarily have a ranked waitlist so that as soon as one person declines, another offer is made immediately--sometimes they wait until there are enough declines that it is worth having the committee meet again to discuss the next wave. 

 

Because of all this, I don't think it's worth considering or worrying about exactly what each school will do with your decline decision. As I said above, do what is best for you while keeping in mind your responsibility to make timely decisions. I believe this attitude is important for success later in academia too. You will always have to do what is best for yourself (i.e. you wouldn't delay/change a grant submission because you might win it over a colleague) but you would be responsible and ethical about your decisions (i.e. you wouldn't purposely sabotage others, you wouldn't purposely delay peer review of a competitor's results etc.)

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I'd say it' s not just about those on the waitlist, but also about profs in the school you will reject eventually. They want to be able to make an early offer to the next person on the waitlist so that if _that_ person declines there is enough time to move on on the list. You should let schools know the earliest possible so that when you later seek to publish they don't remeber you as that guy who was waisting our time. They appreciate early declines less than accepts of course but more than late declines. So if you can narrow down you choices you should inform the schools you decide to decline immediately (including those where you're officially waitlisted) to save them time.

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