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What's the most eloquent way of telling school A you've chosen school B?


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At this point I've already decided on school A. 

Is it protocol to email other schools I've been accepted to & decline their offers in writing? 

What's the best way of writing that note - should I specifically state where I'm going instead or nah? 

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What I did for mine was to do exactly as you said - I told them that I've evaluated my choices and decided on going to School A instead of their school and their program.

 

Some people like to leave it at that, but seeing as these people are in my field, I wanted to take it a step further and briefly outline why. The program I'm going into is not very common, so there aren't that many universities to choose from. I told them School A was closer (which was true), without downplaying their school's program in anyway. Ultimately, I thanked them sincerely for showing interest and me and apologized it for not working out. I also thanked them for giving me the opportunity to discuss my research interests and for them to share valuable advice. I also left a short sentence in the end indicating that I hope to cross paths and potentially collaborate with them in the future if the possibility arises. For me that's just giving me a reason to extend my network.

 

You can choose to go the way I did, with a bit of flourish, or just be pragmatic. Regardless, you've made a decision so congrats! 

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Yes, this is appropriate, but as Jay's Brain notes above, you should be careful how you word things.

 

If you are unsure of your writing (not targeting this at you specifically, annabee, just for anyone who might read this), I would recommend short and brief. It's very very easy for something you think is innocuous to be interpreted as a negative slight against School B by a prof at School B. For example, if you write something like "School A has such great telescopes!", a prof at School B might interpret this as a slight against them for not having great telescopes. Even if this is true, they might be insulted. But then if you go on and try to say great things about B as well, then you risk coming off as patronizing.

 

Of course, if you got to know the prof at School B well during this process, then you should know how they will interpret your sentences and you can write accordingly. But if you don't know them that well, you can never be sure how it will be interpreted so I'd be more careful. Also, you don't know who else the prof might forward these emails to and how these people will interpret your words.

 

Generally, my advice is to never give specifics about why you chose School A when writing these personal emails to School Bs' profs. I just say something like "we eventually decided on School A because it is the best fit for us". Then I thank them for all they did during the visits (using specific things to personalize the letter). I prefer to add the "flourish" here rather than on my reasons for my choice. And like Jay's Brain, end with something that says you will meet again. For me, the field is small enough that I expect to see all of these people again at our academic society's annual meeting, so I usually refer to that. I agree with Jay's Brain that this is a good opportunity to maintain contact with people you might want to speak to again in the future.

 

Finally, programs really do like feedback on your decision though. This information is helpful for them to determine who their competition are and what they can do to secure more students in the future. But this personal informational email is generally not the right place to give this feedback, unless you know the prof well and they request it directly from you (but still, be careful what you put in writing). Note that often times when you officially decline an offer, you will get a link to an anonymous survey where you can give more detailed feedback on the reason you chose another school. Most of these surveys have a checklist of reasons you can tick off and ask about the details (financial, TA commitment etc.) of the offer you did take, which is helpful for the school to know. Usually this survey is run by the Graduate Office, rather than the department, so the results are aggregated before anyone sees them, which increases your anonymity. In my opinion, if you have any feedback you are dying to give, this is the place to do it!

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Most eloquent way? I would definitely say poetry. :)

 

Joking aside, I think facts are facts and you will just need to tell them the news. You may wish to preface it by stating that is was a very difficult decision to make given the strength/appeal of their offer/program, but in the end you chose with a different offer and thank them for inviting you to their program.

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Generally, my advice is to never give specifics about why you chose School A when writing these personal emails to School Bs' profs. I just say something like "we eventually decided on School A because it is the best fit for us". Then I thank them for all they did during the visits (using specific things to personalize the letter). I prefer to add the "flourish" here rather than on my reasons for my choice. And like Jay's Brain, end with something that says you will meet again. For me, the field is small enough that I expect to see all of these people again at our academic society's annual meeting, so I usually refer to that. I agree with Jay's Brain that this is a good opportunity to maintain contact with people you might want to speak to again in the future.

 

Yes, this! Do not give reasons. I was advised by professors to never give reasons and followed the advice and it worked out well. Giving the wrong reasons can hurt you and honestly, can never help. 

 

I just told schools that i really appreciated the offer and that it was a super tough decision but I ended up choosing school X. I usually closed with a note about how I hope i can work with them in the future.

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