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Lets chat about wait lists


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So, I have a few questions an I am hoping that someone here might have the answers and in the alternative we can wait and worry together. 

So after receiving a wait list email is it acceptable/ok/standard procedure to contact the school and ask for more information? 

How should we think about them are they soft rejections or soft acceptances? 

Any other advice or experiences? 



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I was recently at a recruitment weekend for a top-tier university. The admin there made it clear that the few people put on the waitlist would be offered admission when admitted students declined their offers. They even urged admitted students to make their decisions as soon as possible in consideration of waitlisted students. Since there's a good chance admitted students have been admitted to other programs, it's certainly well within the realm of possibility that a student's decision--whether to decline or accept--will open a spot for a waitlisted student. I met an applicant recently who had been offered admission by two universities ranked in US News' top five, both of which maintain an admission waitlist. He can't go to both, so someone on a waitlist at either institution will be offered admission.  

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Yes, BE optimistic!  Schools EXPECT many students to turn down offers, and especially for PhDs, being wait-listed is still a very strong sign because they could easily have rejected you as they did almost everyone else!  There also are probably VERY FEW OTHERS on the same list as you, and inevitably a spot or two will open up.  Whether you are at the *top* of the list remains to be seen or not, but it's definitely not a soft rejection.  

I think it's very much worthwhile to contact the school requesting more information like any clarification on your chances, timeline of finding out, etc.  I don't think it could possibly hurt to seem extra interested and keep you on their minds as a passionate applicant.  If someone else doesn't want them, they want to know that you still very much do!  As long as you don't hound them with annoying emails, it'll probably be fine.

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Just got on a wait-list. After my interview experience, I think I feel like John Kerry getting swiftboated by folks with whom he felt he'd struck a bond. Congrats to admitted students and hopefully, they reach their decisions soon. As an international applicant, I don't know how long I can wait for - my letter says "months". My one other offer remains unfunded for now but I may have to take it some time after I (hopefully) get funding information.

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