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Why do they leave people in Limbo


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Why do grad schools just insist on telling you absolutely nothing, even after first round rejections, after first round interviews, just leaving you in absolute limbo! I am so perturbed. 

 

(Also, is perturbed only in the vocab of someone who recently took the GRE; along with peripatetic and esoteric?)

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I don't imagine they do this out of ill will.

Put yourself in their shoes. Think back to when you were selecting which programs you were going to apply to. There are hundreds across the country. Some you know right off the bat you don't want to apply to. Some resonate with you immediately, so you put them down on your list. But others require more careful consideration (do you have enough schools on your list? do you really want to spend the money for that extra tenth application?).

Now just pretend each of these programs was anxiously waiting to hear from you about whether or not you were going to apply. Some of them you can give answers right away, but the others take more time. There's a lot of stuff to sift through.

Edited by 2017 Applicant
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Nah, my opinion is that the more applicants in the same program, the longer we have to wait. It's just that they got overwhelmed by the application materials, and I don't know when I started to tell myself that no news is good news, while getting no interviews and no news after seeing they've already sent out the first round of admissions is definitely not a good sign. But there's nothing I can do about it. No news means that at least I'm still in the competition, and I don't bother to ask them what's going on, since there's still time.

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When I talked to some admission advisers, they seemed to anticipate the huge volume of applications they were going to face. It doesn't change all that much from year to year. However, they did indicate that the process is somewhat iterative: meaning they recommend on applicants, wait to hear form the professors about those, go back to checking other applicants and so forth. Not to mention having a "wait list" (declared or undeclared) in the case that some of their top picks reject the offer.

So yeah, totally annoying to be in the dark, but it's better than a flat-out rejection cause at least you're on the "good list"

 

Edited by nixipixi
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/18/2017 at 6:46 PM, Sleam said:

It'd be nice if they all said, okay we send out notifications the end of February and then us hopefuls say thanks/ no thanks within two weeks for waitlisters. 

That would make attending interviews chaos though, because all interviews would fall along the same few weeks instead of more spread out. Ive had 6 interviews since january, only one of which had to be Skype fortunately.  This wouldn't be possible otherwise, and the school's wouldn't get a feel for applicants and visa versa.

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On 2/19/2017 at 6:14 AM, CoyoteBlue said:

Why do grad schools just insist on telling you absolutely nothing, even after first round rejections, after first round interviews, just leaving you in absolute limbo! I am so perturbed. 

Exactly my question - why shouldn't we be getting updates of what is happening? The status of applications just read 'in progress', like forever :/ I'm so tiered of waiting that I don't care if they are all rejections, I just want them quick!!

Edited by MilesToGo
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On 2/18/2017 at 6:44 PM, CoyoteBlue said:

Why do grad schools just insist on telling you absolutely nothing, even after first round rejections, after first round interviews, just leaving you in absolute limbo! I am so perturbed. 

 

(Also, is perturbed only in the vocab of someone who recently took the GRE; along with peripatetic and esoteric?)

It's not some intentional form of torture. While it's easy to imagine admissions committees sitting around a table plotting and laughing maniacally as they spin a large wheel for how long we'll have to wait...it's moreso that there are myriad of factors that go into the decision making process. Waiting is a major part of theatre- waiting to hear about callbacks, waiting to hear about casting, waiting to hear about directing offers, waiting for reviews. And I've learned from that that waiting isn't some twisted mind game of manipulation and evilness. It's not a newfangled torture technique. People have lives and have to spend weeks and possibly months going through the red tape to reach decisions. It is what it is I think!

Also. I have never taken the GRE and I love the word perturbed! I use it often.

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On 2/18/2017 at 7:44 PM, CoyoteBlue said:

Why do grad schools just insist on telling you absolutely nothing, even after first round rejections, after first round interviews, just leaving you in absolute limbo! I am so perturbed. 

 

(Also, is perturbed only in the vocab of someone who recently took the GRE; along with peripatetic and esoteric?)

Something I've been trying to do every day recently has been to really limit my time on here. I start the day with a little meditation, do a check of this form and blog, and then I'm OFF it until after the work day. As best as you can, it's helpful to stay present minded to whatever you have going on (i.e. work, friends, etc.) I joined a trivia team, go for runs, read awesome books, and try to just keep myself occupied and grateful by doing things I love to do. I don't mean to sound preachy or dismiss your frustration (the reality is, this process bites for all parties involved haha), but I hope maybe this helps a little?

 

Nice use if perturbed ;)

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8 hours ago, meep95 said:

That would make attending interviews chaos though, because all interviews would fall along the same few weeks instead of more spread out. Ive had 6 interviews since january, only one of which had to be Skype fortunately.  This wouldn't be possible otherwise, and the school's wouldn't get a feel for applicants and visa versa.

True, I didn't think of that. It'd be too crazy for you and the schools. 

 

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When attending panels on career advice and reading books and blogs on the job search process, I came across one key piece of advice that would apply here too. The search process is not about the applicant. It's all about the employer finding the right fit for their position. Or, in this case, the school finding the right candidates for their programs. Their focus will be on the candidates they want to attract and when we are on their shortlist then we'll get information. Otherwise, no information is literally that: no information. It could mean that we are the next person to get information. Or it could mean that we are already rejected but they haven't told us yet.

Note that being left in limbo doesn't mean you are at the bottom of the pile....most schools will accept 5% to 10% of applicants and maybe only the top 20% will receive interview requests or notification about shortlists etc. I'd estimate that in most cases, over 80% of applicants will hear nothing until they finish making decisions. Here are also some more practical reasons why most applicants are left in limbo:

1. The school wants to keep you in reserve in case they need to make more offers later. It's almost impossible to reject someone and then "un-reject" them and have them still seriously consider you for their PhD schooling. 

2. The school has limited resources to communicate with applicants so they need to prioritize the accepted candidates. From the other side, I know that planning a prospective student Open House is a ton of work. My department accepts about 40 people and we invite them all to come on the same 2-3 days for a visit. It takes weeks to plan everything and to ensure we are able to meet everyone's food requests, accommodation needs, travel plans etc. And they need to arrange a personalized itinerary for every single visiting student. Some students need to visit on separate days. And there's all the reimbursements to process. Most people that get a rejection take it graciously but some people will write back to ask for feedback or other details. The staff doesn't have time to do everything.

3. The school has limited resources and they also need to prioritize the current students. In my program, we have one single staff member in charge of all things grad students related. This staff member does all of the prospective visit stuff but also helps the current student do our graduate milestone paperwork. They approve and prepare our candidacy paperwork. They arrange qualifying exam committees. They arrange thesis committees. We talk to them when there is an issue in our stipends not going through. Or if we have an issue with a professor mistreating students etc. Remember that most programs will not have dedicated staff simply for admissions/applications.

My school does try to be very fast though. We make all decisions in January but the people who are rejected don't find out until mid-February, after all of the visit planning is done. I know that this information isn't very comforting and to be honest, it really is a matter of prioritizing limited resources to maximize the best outcomes for the school and the current students. But I hope that knowing some of the logic/reasoning behind the decisions makes the limbo less bad. I know it's easier to say that than to actually feel it, because I also felt high levels of anxiety while in limbo for post-PhD job applications too! But it will pass :)

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