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Rejected... how do you respond?


Rejected...how do you respond?  

101 members have voted

  1. 1. You are rejected, you grieve, then what next?

    • Avoid all further contact with the school/prof that rejected you
    • Call and request feedback on application, hope that they change their mind
    • Write a thank you note to the program/prof that rejected you


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Responding to the poll options:

I wouldn't call them to see if they would change their minds, however, I would like to know what it was that was wrong with my application so I can know what to improve next time. I am going to be applying again if I don't get in and it would be so helpful to know what to put more effort into. If it is my GRE scores, for example, I know I just need to study until my head explodes... whereas, if it is LORs, I will find new people, etc.

I know they often won't give you much detail (if any) but in an ideal world, they would take the time to at least send out a checklist or something. Hopefully it doesn't come to that :) Going through this whole process again would be devastating.

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I picked the first option because I don't think that further contact would make a shred of difference. I'd just try not to think about the rejection anymore (or at least until the next application season) although that might well be easier said than done.

I have the feeling that most admissions committees might be wary of revealing any information regarding our applications and the decision-making process. Certainly it would be very helpful in figuring out which mistakes to avoid the next time round, but I think that actually getting hold of the information would be very difficult.

I'd just leave well enough alone.

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As far as the poll I am going to be doing a little bit of all three -

For my first choice prof/schools I am going to send a thank you note (to open up dialog if I apply for next year) after I have had a bit of time to grieve not being accepted/get my bruised ego in check. I actually just finished writing a card to a prof that I really want to work with in the future. I am not sure how he will respond but I'll post something if anything interesting happens. I think of this as the "lets be friends" style that you have with an ex when you actually mean it.

For all others schools that are lower on my list I am going to avoid further contact. This approach kind of reminds me of the "mutually ignore each other" style after an awkward breakup or fling.

Potentially if the inclination strikes me I will go with the second choice also (give them a call). I have found that it actually doesn't hurt, at least with my experience with internships/research assistant positions. Two out of three times when I gave a follow up call after being rejected I was then serendipitously accepted because of last minute changes and shuffling of available positions.

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I would want to contact only to know for what reasons my app was rejected. I want to know if it is something fixable like my GRE, wider mix of LOR writers or take a class (its been more than 10yrs since I did) versus a "fit" or "not good enough" due to something like my UG GPA, which cannot be fixed.

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Don't expect them to change their minds but I think if you were really gung-ho on this school or you're going to re-apply, you should contact the schools you were rejected by and ask them how you might make yourself a more attractive candidate. Some schools won't offer anything but the standard reply "Very competitive... many excellent candidates... bla bla bla." but I've heard some offer considerable feedback and constructive criticism.

A lot of people say you should wait until after the application cycle is mostly over before you contact. And if you never plan on re-applying, one wonders what you'd gain from it apart from something new to obsess over.

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I didn't expect that the option I chose, the thank you note, is the least popular one....@_@

I wrote to a professor, who interviewed me, right after receiving the rejection. I said thanks to her and wished to cross her path in the academia someday. It's no hurt, and anyway I wanna keep in some kind of touch with her.

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I didn't expect that the option I chose, the thank you note, is the least popular one....@_@

I wrote to a professor, who interviewed me, right after receiving the rejection. I said thanks to her and wished to cross her path in the academia someday. It's no hurt, and anyway I wanna keep in some kind of touch with her.

I advocate for asking what you could do to be a better candidate, in the event you got no acceptances - otherwise, how will you know? The worst they will do is just not reply or tell you due to time constraints they can't respond.

If you plan on going into academia whether or not you get into the other programs, it would be a good idea to send a note. Academia is a small world, and it doesn't hurt to be civil and maintain civil contact with others who could potentially be your colleagues someday. Just because you aren't going into their department doesn't mean you won't someday see them on a conference panel, have them editing your paper for publication, acting as outside readers for your dissertation...it pays to be circumspect about that. You never know when you'll need to be on good terms with academics you aren't studying with...

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Quick question - It looks like I will be rejected across the board (have either email rejects or have seen admits on this board from a few weeks ago). I had a professor at my dream school tell me that they were fighting for me...looks like it didn't help. I know the general consensus is to 'move on' but...I don't want to go down without a fight! Would it be a terrible idea to go see the professor I was talking with and ask to pay my own way for the first year and prove that I belong? Then, if they want me next year they can take me or I'll move on. I feel like the majority of programs deny based on financial limitations so this might be a way in...is this crazy? I'm really leaning towards making a stand! Any thoughts would be welcome...I guess I don't want to embarrass myself...Thanks!

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Quick question - It looks like I will be rejected across the board (have either email rejects or have seen admits on this board from a few weeks ago). I had a professor at my dream school tell me that they were fighting for me...looks like it didn't help. I know the general consensus is to 'move on' but...I don't want to go down without a fight! Would it be a terrible idea to go see the professor I was talking with and ask to pay my own way for the first year and prove that I belong? Then, if they want me next year they can take me or I'll move on. I feel like the majority of programs deny based on financial limitations so this might be a way in...is this crazy? I'm really leaning towards making a stand! Any thoughts would be welcome...I guess I don't want to embarrass myself...Thanks!

Not crazy at all! A former prof from my master's program told me I should do that if I didn't get in. It's not about taking a stand -- more about demonstrating your high level of commitment. You might want to approach the prof in terms of "exploring alternatives"... GOOD LUCK!

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@mdfishbein: Don't do that, especially if you want to go into academia. I naively suggested this to my tutor at one point and he very strongly suggested it's not a good idea at all and this would put you at the very bottom for future funding.

sD.

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Quick question - It looks like I will be rejected across the board (have either email rejects or have seen admits on this board from a few weeks ago). I had a professor at my dream school tell me that they were fighting for me...looks like it didn't help. I know the general consensus is to 'move on' but...I don't want to go down without a fight! Would it be a terrible idea to go see the professor I was talking with and ask to pay my own way for the first year and prove that I belong? Then, if they want me next year they can take me or I'll move on. I feel like the majority of programs deny based on financial limitations so this might be a way in...is this crazy? I'm really leaning towards making a stand! Any thoughts would be welcome...I guess I don't want to embarrass myself...Thanks!

Two possibilities resembling what you're suggesting come to mind: a qualifying year (that is, you attend the school taking the undergraduate or possibly graduate courses you're deficient in with the understanding that if you complete them satisfactorily, you will be admitted the following year) or non-degree status (that is, you're not officially admitted to the program but you are permitted to take graduate courses. This can sometimes serve as a backdoor to grad school because if you form good relationships and excel, you can approach the powers that be at the end of the year and request to be given degree status, which may be as easy as filling out a form.)

A qualifying year is usually offered to otherwise exceptional students who are lacking preparation in certain areas. If you are such a student, you probably already know it, they probably already know it, and - unfortunately - they'd probably already have offered you the possibility. But you can contact the graduate secretary or coordinator to discuss whether taking graduate courses as a non-degree student is a possibility.

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Two possibilities resembling what you're suggesting come to mind: a qualifying year (that is, you attend the school taking the undergraduate or possibly graduate courses you're deficient in with the understanding that if you complete them satisfactorily, you will be admitted the following year) or non-degree status (that is, you're not officially admitted to the program but you are permitted to take graduate courses. This can sometimes serve as a backdoor to grad school because if you form good relationships and excel, you can approach the powers that be at the end of the year and request to be given degree status, which may be as easy as filling out a form.)

A qualifying year is usually offered to otherwise exceptional students who are lacking preparation in certain areas. If you are such a student, you probably already know it, they probably already know it, and - unfortunately - they'd probably already have offered you the possibility. But you can contact the graduate secretary or coordinator to discuss whether taking graduate courses as a non-degree student is a possibility.

I hadn't thought of this but yes, if you can eat the cost of taking two courses as a non degree seeking student, then often this can get you into the program. I did this with my MA degree in English - undergrad GPA was too low, so I took two classes and was admitted full-time the following term. No funding - but then, I didn't ask for it and it was a small state school.

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I've already e-mailed the graduate secretary at the first school I have been rejected to asking her if the faculty gives advice to rejected applicants about what went wrong, and what to improve upon for next round. I plan to do the same if I get rejected from the other school I applied to, because I guess at this point I am holding onto the attitude of "it's not over until I say it's over" for dear life, hoping that helps. Hoping to God that helps. This sucks, but I'd rather know how to fix things, improve things, or just that they didn't have the funding for me and normally I would have been accepted rather than wallowing in self-pity. Which I have done for a few days now and it sucks.

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A qualifying year is usually offered to otherwise exceptional students who are lacking preparation in certain areas. If you are such a student, you probably already know it, they probably already know it, and - unfortunately - they'd probably already have offered you the possibility. But you can contact the graduate secretary or coordinator to discuss whether taking graduate courses as a non-degree student is a possibility.

I got one of these this year, although I did not "already know it." I had to talk to people on the inside and figure it out for myself, although it wasn't obvious. It could be couched as a either a "qualifying year" or "one year master's program"--I have to admit that I had never heard of a 1 yr masters until I was offered one as my current institution does not offer either a qualifying year or a 1 yr MA. My offer letter contained the verbiage, "Nonetheless, in light of you academic achievements, the Committee Members recommend that you be admitted to..." after pretty standard phrasing for a PhD rejection letter.

Of course, this also shows that you need to read the entire rejection letter, not just the "has not recommended" portion.

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I got one of these this year, although I did not "already know it." I had to talk to people on the inside and figure it out for myself, although it wasn't obvious. It could be couched as a either a "qualifying year" or "one year master's program"--I have to admit that I had never heard of a 1 yr masters until I was offered one as my current institution does not offer either a qualifying year or a 1 yr MA. My offer letter contained the verbiage, "Nonetheless, in light of you academic achievements, the Committee Members recommend that you be admitted to..." after pretty standard phrasing for a PhD rejection letter.

Of course, this also shows that you need to read the entire rejection letter, not just the "has not recommended" portion.

Yeah, by "you would probably already know it" I meant in the sense that the OP would likely have been told that he/she'd been accepted to one in the rejection letter.

Way to go, Toronto, on the vague wording, though!

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Quick question - It looks like I will be rejected across the board (have either email rejects or have seen admits on this board from a few weeks ago). I had a professor at my dream school tell me that they were fighting for me...looks like it didn't help. I know the general consensus is to 'move on' but...I don't want to go down without a fight! Would it be a terrible idea to go see the professor I was talking with and ask to pay my own way for the first year and prove that I belong? Then, if they want me next year they can take me or I'll move on. I feel like the majority of programs deny based on financial limitations so this might be a way in...is this crazy? I'm really leaning towards making a stand! Any thoughts would be welcome...I guess I don't want to embarrass myself...Thanks!

I think you would absolutely embarrass yourself if you did this. Stay in touch with the professor, work on improving your CV, and try again.

Offering to pay your own way for the first year won't make a difference. They made their admit decisions based on so much more than funding--balancing supervisory loads, getting students who fit their vision of where the department is going, etc etc.

Look at it this way: what do they have to gain by letting you come for a year? Nothing. They have an option to keep you around, but they had that option already during the admit cycle and turned it down. They have lots of good students. Now what do they have to lose? Resources and time. In addition, having one person in such a strange situation might lead to some serious awkwardness, and they'd have to make a special, off-the-books decision about whether or not to 'keep you... and explain to the grad studies dept and the funding bodies why they were doing something weird with your money... and it would all just be a giant mess.

Very, very bad idea.

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Quick question - It looks like I will be rejected across the board (have either email rejects or have seen admits on this board from a few weeks ago). I had a professor at my dream school tell me that they were fighting for me...looks like it didn't help. I know the general consensus is to 'move on' but...I don't want to go down without a fight! Would it be a terrible idea to go see the professor I was talking with and ask to pay my own way for the first year and prove that I belong? Then, if they want me next year they can take me or I'll move on. I feel like the majority of programs deny based on financial limitations so this might be a way in...is this crazy? I'm really leaning towards making a stand! Any thoughts would be welcome...I guess I don't want to embarrass myself...Thanks!

I think the best and most professional way to approach your situation is to ask this professor who said they were fighting for you what was it about your application that was lacking. What could you have done differently to have come out on top in that fight? I think the only way that you could go for a year is if the school has a non-matriculated option, which could be very expensive at some places and is not a guarantee in (although it has worked for many people, I would ask around before going through with this).

I think that it's worth asking the places that rejected you what was it that got you rejected and how to improve in the future. A few things could happen.

1. You find out that you're simply not eligible for that program and cross that institution off the list for next year.

2. They could tell you honestly what aspect of your application got you rejected and then you would know where to improve for next year.

3. You could find out that your rejection had nothing to do with your application, and that they couldn't accept you because of budget cuts, sabbaticals, or a myriad of reasons and reapply next year.

4. They could say nothing, which might be the most likely option, but it never hurts to ask.

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  • 4 weeks later...

There's no need to follow-up, such as a thanks for letting me know message. It's kind of awkward for the office receiving the reply and would there be a 'you're welcome' reply? Not necessary.

You might email and ask for feedback on your materials and see if they can offer insight on their decision process. It may be that there's room for improvement, or it was simply there were way too many applicants for so few spots.

But as far as I have heard, no one has changed their mind once making a decision on an application.

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The only school I sent a thank you note to was the one that I had actually interviewed at and kept in touch with the faculty. I figured that it was a small field and that I would be in contact with them again, and hey, they did pay for my flights and hotel. And I did see my poi from that school two weeks later at a conference, where she ended up being the awkward one in our brief conversation.

If I did not have consistent or meaningful contact, then I sent back nothing.

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