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Personal Probability Estimates


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When I go to check my email, I estimate the probability of something new having arrived from a prospective university:

12:00am; 5% Highly unlikely, but still not zero
1:00am; 3% Less likely than midnight, but some professors are burning the midnight oil
2:00am; 5% My poor math deduces that if they are awake in the middle of the night, 2am sounds like a good time to email me after all. Check email.
3:00am; 2% If they were going to email in the middle of the night, they probably would have done so already
4:00am; 7% Some professors are cray-cray morning people after all
5:00am; 12% Better time for a morning person to consider it appropriately late enough to send an email out without seeming strange
6:00am; 12% Some of the early morning folks may have gone for a jog first and then had a snack or walked their dog and are only now getting to their email
7:00am; 15% Before leaving for work, someone may wrap up a few pending tasks, like sending me an email
8:00am; 25% First thing in the morning when getting to the office, a fantastic time to both accept and reject someone
9:00am; 20% A slightly less acceptable time to accept someone, but still perfectly acceptable for a rejection
10:00am; 25% An email after a brief meeting to finish making those final applicant decisions
11:00am; 20% They may send me something during a late morning meeting, from their phone, while ignoring the speaker, and acting like they are doing important business on their phone
12:00pm; 20% Right before lunch, they send out some satisfying emails that have been weighing on them, so they can go out to lunch satisfied
1:00pm; 6% The back from lunch now, forgotten email, rush send they intended to send during the morning and have recollected only now that they are well fed
2:00pm; 20% Final decisions were made after a long lunch meeting where some fights broke out and coffee was thrown
3:00pm; 15% After-lunch meeting closes calmly with no thrown coffee, applicants decided
4:00pm; 10% Private meetings in dark corners bring final decisions to a close in the late afternoon
5:00pm; 15% They save the feel-good happy acceptance email message for the end of the day
6:00pm; 20% "Oh crap, I totally forgot to send those acceptance emails" -on the way out the door
7:00pm; 12% Professor arrives at home, "Oh crap, I totally forgot to send those acceptance emails."
8:00pm; 10% Over dinner, "Oh crap, I totally forgot to send those acceptance emails."
9:00pm; 6% Late night fighting continued over final applicant decisions in office overtime. Pizza was thrown. It wasn't whether or not to accept me, but who got to have me. Rawr. 
10:00pm; 10% The meeting transitioned into primetime TV watching and over soothed nerves they finally decided to throw some dice
11:00pm; 8% The toughest of decisions was resolved by transforming applications into paper airplanes and competing for flying distance

Note: These numbers do not add up to 100% :) 

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You make the "forget to tell the applicant" jokes, but it did happen to me at one school. I found out unofficially I was accepted (from a grad student friend at that school who organizes the prospective student visits and they saw my name) but I didn't hear anything from a prof for days. Finally I got a phone call. I asked the students about it later and it they told me Prof X was supposed to call me but they kept forgetting....so another prof had to do it for them!

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