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Waitlisted at first choice, in at second


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I got into my second choice and they gave me a great package. I think I am getting accepted into my first choice program, but waitlisted for funding and won't find out until April 15th. My second choice wants a decision on the TA-ship by March 15th (next week!!!) What do I do???? Any advice is welcome. Trying not to make myself sick over this.

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I was in a very similar situation recently; I emailed the second choice program and asked to have until April 15, and they agreed. I find it unlikely, though, that any program will give you until after April 15 to make a decision, so you might have to set the line there. Maybe someone else has more experience with this, but April 15 is kind of it for programs if you're not on their waitlist. At least, as far as I know.

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PhD or MA? And are these American programs? If the second choice is asking for any sort of decision by March 15 (and they're American) it's pretty fucked up. The standard April 15th date exists for a good reason—diverging from it to add undue pressure to admitted students is shitty and you should email them saying that (in a more formal manner, of course). That being said, you could also email the first choice and tell them about the second—it could potentially force their hand on acceptance and funding. 

Either way though, second choice is, uh, not behaving well. If you accepted them now and then reneged later on based on a better offer from first choice, I wouldn't feel guilty at all. They're not doing anything illegal, of course, but it's really bad academic etiquette to force an admitted student's hand based on funding. 

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Technically it sounds like they want a decision on the TA-ship, which is a slightly different kettle of fish that isn't governed by the April 15th agreement. Still unfortunate, and ever-so-slightly insidious from a student perspective, but unlike @FeetInTheSky's situation, I think they'll be able to justify this one...

As to the OP, it might not hurt to contact your top choice institution and let them know. If they know that you're being pressured, they may be more frank about your waitlist chances.

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I was going to say--maybe they need an answer by next week so they can hand out funding to another accepted applicant (since answers about getting in + funding seem to happen around mid-March and a little later for the MA's I'm applying to). Congrats on both results! 

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It seems like this earlier deadline is becoming more common. My Comp/Rhet program also had an earlier deadline, and here's why: Association of Writers and Writing Programs Recommendations on the Timeframe for Admissions

At least, my acceptance letter cited this recommendation as the reason why.

I know that doesn't exactly help your situation! But like @FeetInTheSky said, it never hurts to ask for an extension. Just be careful about how you word that email. :)

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