'tis the season for grad admissions and recruiting. I am feeling very positive about this year's pool of applicants for my particular research group. Of course, I don't know if any of my top choices will actually come to work with me, but that will all get sorted out in the next few months. At least it's good to have some excellent possibilities.
The top prospects are heavily recruited by many schools, and these students are in a very good position. The best applicants have lots of offers, get expenses paid to visit all the schools, and then have lots of choices. I think it is great that students who have worked hard and are motivated for graduate study have many opportunities so they can choose the best place for them.
One of my colleagues is feeling dejected about his grad recruiting opportunities this year. For his particular research specialty, there are some very strong groups at private universities, including a couple that have "Institute of Technology" somewhere in their names (including one where this colleague was formerly a postdoc). In a number of recent years, he has had some excellent prospective grad students; they visit, they are impressed, and then they accept another offer and send him an email that says something like "I wasn't expecting to be impressed, but I was. Even so, I'm going to go to one of these other schools. Best of luck with your research." He hates those emails.
This year, my colleague was contacted by a hot prospect student, knew that the competition included the I of T's, and was dreading going through the whole pointless recruiting thing again. The student saved him the trouble, though, by telling him that because our university was a backup school, it really wasn't worth it to spend the money on the application fee, so could the fee be waived? And if not, oh well, best of luck with your research. My colleague wrote back to say thanks anyway, but best of luck with .. everything.
[on the bright side, one of this colleague's recent Ph.D. students just got an excellent job at a research university]
16 hours ago