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#1: Waitlist, #2 Accepted. How to make this work?


J_Phil

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Good morning all, I'd appreciate some advice.

I've been waitlisted at my top school (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy) and accepted to my second choice (American University School of International Service). I am currently working on submitting additional materials to Fletcher to try to be admitted from the waitlist, but in the meantime I will be accepting admission to American. 

Has anyone ever withdrawn from a school after accepting admission? What are the consequences of doing so, and what should I plan for? How would you recommend I approach this issue? I don't want to be dishonest, but I also don't want them to feel that they are "just a fallback" and that I'm ready to depart with a moment's notice from Fletcher? I'm happy to attend American, of course, I just have a stronger desire for the other school. 

I'm a little jittery right now, so excuse my odd stream-of-consciousness typing. Any advice would be appreciated. --J

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The norms are probably in different fields so I can't comment on the consequences and such. 

But a question would be: When do you have to make a decision on your offer to American? If there is a strict deadline, can you ask them to extend it? If the deadline is far away, then I think it's best to tell American that yes, you are interested and that you will spend time thinking about the decision. Meanwhile, you can wait until Fletcher makes its decision about the waitlist.

Again, different fields here, but in a lot of other fields, schools agree to the same decision deadline (April 15) so that students can always make the best choice. But not all schools do this and many of us face similar dilemmas. I guess, at this point, I don't understand why you need to tell American anything at all (unless of course, your deadline with them is coming up fast!)

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Precisely, the deadline is before the time in which I would hear from Fletcher about potential admission from the waitlist. I've decided to go ahead and accept American and, essentially, go all-in with them. If I end up receiving an offer from Fletcher, I will just have to go through the somewhat embarrassing process of withdrawing a school which I have already notified. I'm also doing this all for Spring admission, so it's all very awkward in comparison to regular fall admission. 

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I would really appreciate hearing opinions on this as I am in a kind of similar situation (not to hijack your thread, sorry!). I know I will be offered one position at a non-US university in November (not sure of the deadline), but I also want to apply for US programs, which I will hear back from much later. Are universities generally understanding and accommodating of this situation, or is kind of tough luck and you have to gamble with it? I am usually of the opinion that being honest and open is the best way to go, but I don't really know what the norm is here. Also, if it is okay to say yes to one school until something else comes along, as J_Phil suggests.

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I emailed one of the programs I'm currently considering, who granted me an extension for admission decisions. I asked for a new deadline two weeks later than the original date, and I was granted an extension of one week. I didn't receive the full two weeks because it would complicate my enrollment should I choose to go to that school.

It's not quite what I wanted BUT it does show that programs do have some flexibility regarding their dates. In fact, I would not put it past them to set an early date in anticipation of these requests. I would email them asking for an extension because you are still waiting to hear back from other schools. 

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2 hours ago, DrZoidberg said:

I would really appreciate hearing opinions on this as I am in a kind of similar situation (not to hijack your thread, sorry!). I know I will be offered one position at a non-US university in November (not sure of the deadline), but I also want to apply for US programs, which I will hear back from much later. Are universities generally understanding and accommodating of this situation, or is kind of tough luck and you have to gamble with it? I am usually of the opinion that being honest and open is the best way to go, but I don't really know what the norm is here. Also, if it is okay to say yes to one school until something else comes along, as J_Phil suggests.

Professional programs like the OP wrote about might be different than research-PhD programs (your sidebar says Oceanography, so I'm assuming you are applying to research PhD programs). As others said, the research programs tend to be a lot more flexible (and they tend to follow the April 15 convention if in the US/North America). It's a little more complicated if applying outside of the US as well, but should you get a deadline from a non-US school before you hear back from your US school, you should definitely ask for more time (and give the reason why). Also, if it's past the normal time for the US school to get back to you (e.g. the Results survey here says answers by February but it's already mid-March) then it's also reasonable to email the schools you're waiting from to hear an update (you might find out you're already rejected but just not yet informed).

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Thank you, TakeruK, it's true that the program is different. And yes, I will be applying for research PhDs. The non-US program has semester start in late February, so I am a little nervous how far I can stretch it, but I think the best idea is to just tell them the situation as it is and hope that they will be flexible. I am guessing you would be a bit unpopular if you accepted an offer, only to turn it down before starting? It is a nice thought, to at least have said yes to a good program and then hope for the really good program to come along, thereby safeguarding yourself. But it is my experience that the supervisors are fairly invested in you and they aren't too happy about it*. Especially if you are going to stay in the same field(-ish) you don't want to burn any bridges.

* I turned down a PhD, within the deadline and the supervisor knew I was also applying elsewhere, but he did not take it well and the correspondence was a little bit unnerving, so I feel like I am walking on eggshells. 

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I was in a similar situation when I applied, although not to the point that the program start dates were different. I requested a deadline extension in a one-on-one conversation with the person who sent me the admission letter, after a long conversation during which I showed how excited I am about this program etc. When it all came to the deadline extension question, it was as if both of us knew exactly that it was coming to that, and the previous questions were just foreplay, AND when I asked for the maximum deadline that I really wanted (Apr 15), it was absolutely clear that her pretense at thinking about it was well rehearsed and that she knew exactly which date she'd be willing to give me. So from this I draw that one should ask for the maximum deadline that they need. If you give a lesser deadline (such as "a month" or "two weeks") they will use it against you and give you even less time than what they planned on giving.

Now, it may be different for some programs which don't care much about what happens in the USA, in that they might be surprised that you ask about deadline extension, but asking for the maximum (which at the same time would fit in with the sessional dates, of course) still makes sense I believe. They will not rescind their offer just because you are trying to be serious about your decision - they want you! (obviously, don't say "there is my #1 choice I'm still waiting on" but rather tell them graciously "these are all very exciting programs, I love your program, but this is such a big decision, I need a little bit more time). It's all about how you frame your request.

Edited by random_grad
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29 minutes ago, random_grad said:

So from this I draw that one should ask for the maximum deadline that they need. If you give a lesser deadline (such as "a month" or "two weeks") they will use it against you and give you even less time than what they planned on giving.

Agree with this x1000, for this context and almost every other context. Whenever you make a request or ask for a concession, you always always should ask for what you actually need. Don't say "2 more weeks please" if you don't even know that you will find out from the other school in 2 weeks. And, there's no point asking for only half of what you need! Other examples are: if you are applying for funding for travel to a conference and you need $600, then you should just ask for $600 and if they only grant you $300, well at least that's $300 less you have to find from another source.

(Of course, this includes the reasonable assumption that you won't be asking for more than the maximum allowable, e.g. if a grant has a firm maximum request of $500, then requesting $600 is silly).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey all, I'm new around here (first post) but I'm in an almost identical situation to the other two fine posters of this thread. I was accepted into San Diego State's Sports Management MBA program a couple of weeks ago, and hastily accepted their offer of admission, not thinking I'd get in anywhere else and feeling a little pressure from that program. Well, fast forward to yesterday, when Oregon's Warsaw Center for Sports Business (which I believe is the oldest and most well-established/connected program of its ilk in the nation, of which there aren't many) scheduled two short-notice interviews with me and showed interest, but didn't put forth a decision. You can probably see my dilemma.

I like the program at San Diego State, but I really like how established and innovative the program at Oregon is. Both would be good fits for me, but I'm put off by the graduate employment/earnings stats I came across recently from SDSU's general full-time MBA program (a ghastly 33% earning something like $35,000/yr).

Here are the details: San Diego State's program starts January 19, 2016, and the tuition deposit deadline is on November 30 (Monday). I've accepted the offer over email, but I have yet to sign any documentation/letter or send in the deposit. Oregon's program, on the other hand, starts in late September 2016, and though the director of the program (who interviewed me just earlier this afternoon via Skype) understands the situation I'm in, he told me that it's extremely unlikely they'll have made their decision by next Monday. He even suggested that I ask San Diego State's program director to extend my deadline to officially accept admission, saying that if an applicant did something similar to his program, he'd understand entirely. Of course, I didn't tell the Oregon director that I had already accepted the position at San Diego State, so I'm worried that that throws a bit of a wrench into things.

I let the director of SDSU's program know that I had applied to other schools during our interview two weeks ago, but I didn't tell him that I was still waiting on other schools when I accepted the offer via email. Would it be rude/tactless of me to pull back my commitment a little, or should I just go for it and ask for a deadline extension? I am truly at a loss and would greatly appreciate any feedback/advice. Thanks!

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14 hours ago, rising_star said:

Could you ask San Diego State to defer your acceptance until the fall semester? That would give you time to hear from Oregon and mean that either way you'd be starting grad school in Fall 2016, at the latest.

No :( This particular cohort only starts in Spring semester each year (18-month program).

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I called the San Diego State business school office and they told me that the Sports MBA program's numbers were not included in the dire statistics I saw on the US News and World Report's website regarding the full-time MBA program. 33%! Though I must admit I flubbed the avg. salary number (it's $51,000 a year, not $35,000).

I've also written a draft of the message I'm considering sending to the director. I could PM it to you if you'd be alright with that, and perhaps you can give me some pointers on how to make it a bit more tactful/less backtrack-y? Any help would be appreciated.

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