Monday, April 18, 2011

D-Day

April 15* is the traditional deadline for paying the previous year's taxes in the US, and is also the deadline by which applicants to graduate schools typically need to give their response (accept or decline) to offers of admission. There is a Council of Graduate Schools "resolution" proclaiming April 15 to be the decision date, although I don't know how many graduate institutions adhere to this deadline. Let's assume, for the sake of this discussion, that April 15 or thereabouts is a significant date in the graduate admissions process.

[* or, this year, April 18 for taxes]

Here is what I want to know:

How many of you grad applicants (this year or in previous years) accepted or declined your offers..

- well in advance of the deadline
- long after you got the offer but within a few weeks of the deadline; or
- at the very last minute: within days of, or on, the deadline

If you waited until the last minute: Is this because you really had not decided which offer to accept? Or did you know your decision before the deadline, but waited until the last minute for some reason?

And: Did you do all your accepting and declining at the same time, or did you accept an offer and delay the declinations? If you staggered your accepting and declining: why?

I have written before about how it's unfortunate that some applicants delay sending in their rejections, even when they know they are not going to accept particular offers. This delay ties up the process for admitting highly qualified applicants who are on the waiting list. If someone really doesn't know their decision until the last minute, that's fine; but if a decision is made before the deadline, it would be nice to inform the to-be-rejected programs of this.

This year, I almost asked the admissions committee to consider reaching further down the on-hold list and make a few more offers because I started to doubt that an ideal number of first-admits for my group would accept their offers, and there were some great applicants on hold. I am very glad I did not make this request, however, because it turns out that I was just feeling impatient. Eventually, more than enough acceptances came in. I feel bad that some great applicants on the waiting list didn't get offers, but it wouldn't have been doing anyone any favors to accept more students than can reasonably be given a guarantee of financial support.

Explanatory note: In my field of the physical sciences, there are no 'rotations' in which new students cycle through various labs before acquiring an advisor, and, unlike some engineering departments, we do not admit a group of new students and then work out who will advise them. Although students can later switch advisors, at the admissions stage, there has to be at least one professor who expresses interest in being an applicant's advisor in order for that applicant to receive an offer of admission to the graduate program.

Of course there is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for applicants throughout the admissions process, but advisors also have their own kind of uncertainty. Trying to construct a group that is the optimal size relative to funding levels and research opportunities and that is composed of a good balance of senior, intermediate, and beginning grad students is challenging. Not knowing who will accept and who will decline their offers until it is too late to pursue other options (i.e., make offers to other students) adds an element of uncertainty to the process for graduate programs and advisors.

This probably can't be helped, though. Different programs have different application deadlines and make offers at different times, but it makes sense to have a universal final-decision deadline so that students have time to weigh their all their options, compare offers in terms of financial support and research opportunities, and work out whatever needs to be worked out in their personal lives.

So, unless someone wants to propose a graduate equivalent of the "early decision" option offered by some undergraduate institutions, allowing graduate programs to lock in a core number of new students, we advisors just have to deal with the uncertainty and try to make things work out in terms of numbers of students, grants, and projects.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

I slightly staggered my declining, even after I had accepted an offer. I felt bad about delaying the process but for one school it was a purely practical matter: their online application was difficult to navigate (from day 1) and this stressed-out, sleep-deprived senior could not figure out how or who to contact about declining. I distinctly remember one UC state school (but not which) had an online application that was about 10 years' worth of functionality behind everywhere else I applied, including other UC schools.
Even after I had accepted an offer, declining all the other schools felt like hammering the final nail into my coffin. But with the exception of UCxx, I think I did it promptly.

Anonymous said...

I applied this year. I applied to 10 universities, interviewed at 2, and was accepted to 1. I was rejected from 4 and withdrew from the remaining 5 (though one still felt the need to reject me after my withdrawal of my application which I though was very classy of them.)
I accepted my offer close to 4 weeks ago, which was about 3 weeks after it had been extended. I was accepted to School A weeks before I was even scheduled to visit School B. I heard back from the professor I interviewed with at School B that he wouldn't have a space for me - I was the runner up. I had been debating these two schools and when I thought about my remaining possibilities, none would be better for me than the one in hand. So I accepted School A.
I hadn't interviewed or had more than administrative contact from my other schools since submitting my applications, so I briefly hesitated about even bothering to withdraw my applications. It seemed like I was doing a 'don't bother rejecting me, I reject you' which almost felt strangely aggressive. But, there was the possibility that I was uninformed that I was on a wait list, so the next day I sent formal withdrawal emails. It was tempting to wait and find out if I was on a wait list somewhere, to stroke my ego after *only* receiving one offer (the interwebs are full of people with many!), but I decided that was too petty and that I should cross my own name off any lists I might be on.

Anne said...

I declined 1 of my 4 offers immediately after making my last visit. After my last visit I had it easily narrowed down to 2 schools. I held out on declining the other "obvious no" as long as possible because I was still waiting for them to reimburse travel expenses (which they never did).

I sent the respective decline & acceptance to the last 2 schools probably about a week before the deadline. I'd sincerely been on the fence between the two until one came up with a fellowship offer in either very late March or very early April (memory is fuzzy, it's been a few years). I figured if I couldn't decide between the two for research or location reasons that I may as well take the better financial offer.

CDNgradstudent said...

I'm currently doing my MSc up in Canada, and I know that in my case last year one of the reasons I waited to make a decision was because NSERC doesn't send out graduate scholarship award notifications until the very end of March. Since I did fortunately receive an NSERC scholarship, I was able to work with my first-choice advisor who, while unable to pay me as much as others were, is doing work in an area that I find much more interesting!

Since I knew that my financial situation was potentially dependent on external funding, but definitely had a top-choice advisor, I waited to make my final decision.

queerscientist said...

I notified schools a couple of days after I was accepted to my top choice program. I heard from them last so at that point it was easy to inform everyone at once. I definitely had a clear preference order before I received notice from the programs I interviewed at, so once I heard back it was not a decision I needed a lot of time to agonize over.

Anonymous said...

Equally frustrating is waiting on fellowship decisions (NSF, internal fellowships). Students who get awarded these leave TAs open -- but the announcement of some of these awards (e.g., EPA Star) happens late...

We have a good crop of students coming but the decision process was long & drawn out. Seems like there has to be a better way.

I'd be interested in hearing how other programs pick students -- one for each advisor who wants a new student? The strongest in the pile (independent of who the advisor is or how many they accept), some other metric? Are their different rules for accepting students who want to work with junior vs. senior faculty?

Miss MSE said...

I did most of my decisions simultaneously: I submitted my acceptance, opened up all the other tabs, and declined my other offers (hooray for online systems). However, I didn't have a terribly long list of applications, so I heard back from almost everyone before any of the visits had been scheduled.

Julian said...

I'm probably not in your target group, but here in Australia there is not (or perhaps merely was not at the time) a tradition of an common deadline between universities in different states.

This put me in a delicate position of being unable to decline an offer for my second choice institution, prior to the RSVP deadline as my first choice institution sent their offers out later.

I felt badly at the time for both the academics involved, and even more so for the anonymous second-round student waiting to hear their fate, but I couldn't see a reasonable alternative. We were all the victim of an uncoordinated system.

Michelle said...

I had an idea of my top choice when all of my acceptances were in by mid-February, but I didn't make my final decision until visiting in the beginning of March. I already had visits to other schools lined up, and I decided to still go. I wanted to make sure my choice wasn't based on the fact that my top school was an early visit so I didn't have much to compare it to.

Right after I visited my top school, I declined my offers at the schools I was not planning on visiting or had already visited and decided against; I only kept the offers for the schools I had yet to visit. The Sunday after my last visit (the last weekend in March), I was still committed to my top choice so I accepted the offer and declined my remaining ones.

Anonymous said...

I contacted the two institutions that I had decided not to attend immediately after I had accepted the offer from my first choice.

I applied to five and got accepted at three. One of the groups that were rejected were very upset about it.

Anonymous said...

Two years ago I applied to nine programs. I sent most of my declines in about a month early, but I had a hard time deciding between my two top choices and ended putting off that decision until April 10 or so, at which point I sent the accetance and the decline at the same time.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

8 out of 30 of the students we accepted have still not responded (plus or minus).

Other than two who agreed to come within minutes of getting the offer, most of our admittees waited until the last minute to accept.

Our yield was poor this year, with only 9 of the 30 agreeing to join our department.

Anonymous said...

I both delayed accepting the offer I finally took and staggered my declinging. Here's why: I was accepted into 2 schools and wait listed at a third. The wait listed one was my first choice. I declined one of the acceptances right away (if I was going to one of those, was very clear which of the two I wanted), but did not accept at the other. I was waiting to see if I'd make it off the wait list at choice #1.

I ended up deciding that choice #1 really wasn't the best (was Ivy league and that had sucked me in a bit) and removed myself from the waitlist and accepted the other offer.

Anonymous said...

I applied this year, and made my decision a few days ahead of the deadline. There were three schools in the mix; I had a clear first choice in terms of advisor, department, and school, but each of these were at a different place. (I chose Department.)

There was a fourth school that I turned down in February, pre-interview, and a fifth school which rejected me. (Actually, they rejected me twice - both departments decided I was a better fit for the other.)

I hit 90% certainty back in March - when I got the rejection from Initial First Choice, the first thing I thought was "whatever, I'm going to Department". But I was not sure, and I definitely spent that month trying to converge (mainly, hunting down friends-of-friends who had attended the schools in question). Finally, with a week left and 95% certainty obtained, I decided to just go for it.

I did wait a couple extra days to decline one school; they had a paper response form which I had misplaced, and had to ransack my desk to find it. The other I sent in immediately.

Anonymous said...

As a Canadian applying to an MA, I got my two acceptance letters on March 22nd and 23rd. Both gave me about 21 days to accept and I ended up accepting one offer online the 27th and declining the other offer in person on the 29th (there was no online option that I could find). I got an e-mail confirming the rejection on April 1st.

There's no particular reason why I waited two days to hand in the rejection letter; I just wanted to do it on the same day I informed one of my references of my decision.

The school I rejected was my soon-to-be alma mater and it has a very... inconvenient administrative structure. There's a graduate office to manage the applications for the entire faculty, so trying to follow up on the status of an application or get answers for department-specific questions is an ordeal. I have no idea how people who have to mail their acceptance forms from outside the province or country manage to get them sent in and processed before the deadline.

sarcozona said...

I sent in my offer declines within 2 weeks of visiting all schools that accepted me, which ended up being about 3 weeks before April 15 and almost two and a half months after my first offer of admission. I made my decision a week before notifying people, but wanted to sit on it for a while and make sure it was the right choice.

Anonymous said...

Just to chime in from the other side of the fence, I am the chair of one of four search committees for a large, interdisciplinary biomedical science grad program (we coalesced all of our Department programs four years ago). We made 250 offers (I know--its a ridiculous large number--and since it is relevant below, we did fine--37% acceptance). About half of the people promptly accepted or declined, and I appreciate that. About one-third did not respond about a week from the deadline--most but not all of these subsequently declined.

However, here is my major beef--23/250 have still not responded. We are assuming, of course, that that means "no". For those of you further along in your career, can you imagine doing a postdoc or faculty job search and never letting people know if you declined?

I would like all prospective grad students to know that science is a small world, and professional behavior goes a long way.....

Best

Mark P

Female Science Professor said...

I have a friend who applied for a tenure-track faculty position 16 years ago and still hasn't heard anything back from that department. We still joke about it ("Have you heard yet? No, do you think that means I still have a chance?" etc.).

Anonymous said...

I applied ~5 years ago. I applied to 12 schools (way too many! never do this!), and got 10 interviews (one of which was a phone interview). The interviews spanned from January until the first week of April, so I waited until I had finished all my interviews before declining some schools. Before that last interview, I had 2-3 that were my "top" that I was deciding between. I honestly can't remember if I declined the other schools quickly after deciding my top 3 or not.

That last interview was clearly not going to be the place I wanted, so I actually withdrew my application WHILE STILL ON THE INTERVIEW. They were really nice about it (I tried to explain that I think I made a mistake and that it's clearly not the program for me), and I got to go home a day early (which is good because being gone 3 days a week all semester while still in classes was exhausting). I think they actually appreciated it, so that they could focus on their other applicants.

Every other place I declined quickly after that. I may have waited a couple extra days to be "sure" about my #1 before declining my other top 2.

So in the end, the delay was because the interviews spanned such a large time, not because I didn't want to be respectful of the programs.

brooklebee said...

I applied to 4 schools, was accepted to all of them, and did my round of visits all at once (I was working and living in Europe at the time, all four schools were in North America). I knew immediately after the visits that I didn't want to attend two of them, and notified them promptly.

However, in the middle of my deliberations about which of the final two schools to choose, my mother died quite suddenly. So it took me much longer than I think was comfortable for the folks at either school to come to a final decision and let them know. I felt guilty about the delay, but also incapable of making a rational decision for a few weeks following her death. I think I waited until early May, after the visits in March.

Anonymous said...

This all sounds very different from my experience and I haven't been involved with admissions at my current department - have things changed dramatically in the last 10-15 years? When I applied to grad school in 1997 (physics and astronomy departments) there were no interviews before I was admitted but I was invited to visit schools in March to help me make a decision. And I was admitted (or not) to a department rather than to a specific group. Most of us chose research topics and found advisors towards the end of the first year. I have no memory of officially declining offers, but if there was a form to send back I would have done it at the same time I accepted the offer I ended up choosing - after I visited all the schools in March.

Rad Scientist said...

I can't remember whether I turned down the schools that I knew I didn't want to attend before the deadline, but I did wait until the very last minute to decide between two grad schools, and it was because I really wasn't sure. I actually did several versions of flip a coin, pick a hand, etc, and then went with the opposite of the school that won all of them, because my gut told me I would have been disappointed with the winning school!

Amber Lynne said...

I applied to 2 schools. Interviewed at my top choice first first week of feb., got an offer a couple of days later. Within a week I accepted the offer and canceled the interview at the second school. I have been a tech at my "backup" school for 2 years, knew the professors and students already so I didn't feel the need to go through with the interview process.

To me, the deadline seemed so far away from the time I got my offer I couldn't have imagined waiting, but then again I knew what I wanted and it was made clear in my interview that the school was my top choice.

Anonymous said...

I was admitted to 6 programs in Chemistry/MatSci. After the visits, I had narrowed the list down to 2, and declined the others. For those two, I went back and forth until the night of the 14th, and finally called the two programs on the 15th. It really was a case of not being able to make a decision until the last minute.

Eileen said...

Once I had all my offers, I declined at the places I definitely knew I didn't want to go to right after visiting them. I held out for a while on deciding between the top two--for me it was the decision between bad money in a good location, and good money in a bad location, the faculty being relatively equal. I went with good money in a bad location, but I waited until the very end to make it official.

unlikelygrad said...

I had four acceptances, of which I declined one in late March (the acceptance had only come in in mid-March, so there wasn't much delay there). I seriously liked different aspects of the other three schools and so it took me a while to choose between them--I even visited one of them a second time (it was within driving distance) to talk to profs who hadn't been available the first time.

My final decisions went out April 4&5, which isn't too bad considering that my last school visit was April 2!

Anonymous said...

I waited until after visiting all the schools I got interviews at (5/6 applied for). I declined all but my top 2, and then spent about a month dithering between them before finally deciding.

Anonymous said...

I think I did every possible thing: I declined one offer just days after I got it - even though the potential advisor there urged me to wait and reconsider; declined some offers well after the offer but before the deadline; and left a few until the last minute. I made my acceptance at the last minute, and my now-advisor was surprised when I accepted, as she had assumed from my delay in responding that I would decline. All of this was because I was coordinating with my significant other, so as he was rejected from places I declined those places, and then at the end there were some that we both got into, and I made my final decision.

Anonymous said...

I was rather close to the deadline, and let them all know at once. I was trying to decide between my top two choices, and one had requested an institutional fellowship for me. That would have (and did) tipped me in favor of that school. However, the fellowship notifications were late, which is why they let me know they had put me up for it.

Once I knew I had the fellowship I accepted form that institution and declined the others.

Interestingly, it took me about two years to realize I had made the right choice. I kept thinking I had chosen wrong, but after the second year I finally knew it was the right place for me.

Anonymous said...

I think I accepted/declined my offers in the final few days (it's been a few years). I had made up my mind before that, but I too wanted to "sit with my decision" for a while and see how I felt, if I wanted to change my mind, etc before I pulled the trigger. (Choosing a grad school is a *major* life decision, to say the least!) Plus my parents were very upset that my decision would entail moving across the country... more reasons to "sit with my decision" before officially notifying the schools.

What bothered me then though was that in the final 1-2 weeks before the deadline, I got several e-mails from faculty in different programs basically asking me if I had made up my mind yet. Reading this post, I do understand that schools face their own set of pressures regarding this deadline. But the way I operate with deadlines in all circumstances is that I like to be told when the deadline is, and then left alone until the deadline - which I will meet. I take schools at their word that I have until the deadline to reach my decision - since that's when they determined I had until to reach my decision. If they wanted my decision by an earlier day, then I wish they had given me an earlier deadline instead of continually e-mailing me asking if I had made up my mind yet. I like to be treated as an adult (which I am of course), and if I say I will give you my decision by the deadline you requested, then I will. (I even got a little bit of flak afterwards for being "the last person to accept" - though still in advance of the deadline.) Though I understand that given multiple programs, deadlines, etc, maybe this is just a hard problem to juggle all around, for both students and faculty involved.

Once I sent out my acceptance though, I immediately declined my other offers - of course I wasn't going to take them after accepting another one, and I didn't want them to inadvertently hear elsewhere that I had accepted offer X.

Anonymous said...

FSP, I like the story about your friend's 16-year campaign to get that tenure-track job. But. I can top it. I was *interviewed* for a job four years ago, and still haven't heard anything back from the department. I try to tell myself that any department that could behave so inconsiderately is not somewhere I want to work, but I don't alway believe myself.

Flora said...

I was wait-listed at one and accepted at 3. As soon as I was in at one school I notified the wait-list one, and once I had narrowed down the decision to two schools, I let the 3rd one know I would not be attending. The other 2 I notified on April 15th. I felt a little bad about it, in the sense that I was delaying others' funding opportunities, but my final two were both excellent options that took a lot of mental weighing to sort out. I was also sleep deprived and wanted to give myself time to make sure I was making the right choice; I knew that whatever decision I made I would not want to regret it because I hadn't taken a nap before sending out the email.

Female Science Professor said...

Anon 3:07: My friend interviewed for the job 16 years ago! 4 years might seem like a long time, but it could be worse.. We can joke about it because he got a job at More Awesome University.

Anonymous said...

I applied to 9 schools I think (it was quite some time ago), got rejected from most of them, and never heard back from some of them (!), and was wait-listed at (at least?) one school which never informed me I was on the wait list until they accepted me *on* April 15th. I accepted on the spot over the phone when they called to inform me.

Amanda said...

I was making these decisions two years ago. I got into four grad schools. I declined one offer by mid-March, not very long after visiting, because it was clear that that one was the least good fit. Choosing between the other three was very difficult. Ultimately, I let all three of them know at the same time, which was ten days before the decision deadline. I felt bad about making them wait so long for my answer but it was such a hard decision!

Anonymous said...

I was accepted to three (out of seven) schools in February, visited all three in March, and made my final decision within a week after visiting. I notified all three at the same time, about a month ago now. I might have been able to decide even earlier, but the visit to my top-choice school was the very last one and I wanted to visit there before I turned down either of the other two.

Old Biddy said...

It was a while ago, but I applied to 7 schools, and found out from most by January. After visiting one of my top 3 in late February, I declined #4-7, and then visited the other two front-runners. I think it was the end of March when I made my decision and sent in all the letters.
Come to think of it, I still do have some university and industrial positions where I never got an official answer even after doing an on site interview...

Anonymous said...

I had five interviews this January and February. I immediately withdrew from one that was a bad fit, and got the other four offers.
Then, I tortured myself over the decision, even though I kind of knew where I wanted to go. I felt it was important to be (somehow) fair, so I revisited a school that didn't really give me any sense of the city on the interview. Spoke to additional faculty at the other schools (in my current city). Then went with my gut and accepted my favorite anyway. I made the decision and notified everyone in the first week or two of March. I would have lost my mind if I had thought about it until April 15.

Anonymous said...

I waited to the very last day to decide because I was pretty distraught about my choices. I was accepted to two very good programs, but after I visited found that I didn't get along with the professors and didn't like the cities, even though the research was interesting. It took me until April 15th to decide that it wasn't worth being very unhappy for 6 years to get my PhD... so I'm taking a gap year and applying to new schools in the fall. Sigh.

mathgirl said...

I applied to Univ and two Ivy leagues with the plan of going to Univ. One of the Ivy leagues accepted me (as well as Univ) in february. After a couple of weeks it was clear that I didn't have the guts to say no to Ivy, so I answered no to Univ and yes to Ivy.

I ended up not liking Ivy and reapplying to Univ for the next year. I answered yes to Univ on April 15, because it was such a hard decision to make...

I got my PhD from Univ, as I had originally planned!

studyzone said...

I accepted my offer the same day I received it (three months ahead of the May 1 deadline that my graduate program had set). It was my first choice, and I wasn't about to let that opportunity slip through my fingers - never regretted it.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

I saw some figures earlier today, and about 16% of grad admittees campus-wide don't reply by the deadline, and that fraction has been relatively constant for the past 10 years. So there are a lot of very flaky students out there, who can't bother to (or figure out how to) check the "decline" box on a web form.

There is another approximately 5% who are "summer melt"—they say in April that they are coming, but they never show up. Of course, a lot of the time it is no fault of theirs, but failure of the US government to issue a visa.

In my department we have almost no summer melt, probably because we have almost no foreign students. We do have plenty of flakes who fail to either accept or decline officially.

Anonymous said...

I applied to 8 universities in total - was interviewed by 3 and immediately accepted by 5.

The three that interviewed me were the least matching in terms of fit and after two of my top choices accepted me I contacted all three and withdrew my application before hearing their decision.

I visited the other five schools that accepted me. I had two top choices before the visit, and three after. The visit did influence my opinion of all schools. I declined the offers from the two schools that were never top choices, and spent a few days deliberating and consulting with mentors about the other three. I first declined the new addition to my top choices, then chose between my original top two. I ended up going to the one that had been my top choice since freshman year in undergrad. All of this happened about a week to ten days after I returned from my trip (a two week trans-Atlantic trip to both the West and East coasts) and well before the magical April 15 deadline.

I first notified my top choice that I was accepting their offer, and after they confirmed my notification I declined the last remaining offer. I believe that must have been about two weeks before the deadline, precisely because I was hoping they could still go down the waitlist and offer my stop to someone else.

I didn't appreciate being pushed by some schools to make an early decision, even though I do understand their reasons. Some applicants don't hear all of their decisions and may still wait on some until close to April 15 or even later. But for those who have all of their information early - I agree, nothing is going to change; take a few days to think and make a decision.

Anonymous said...

My last interview was on April 13. It was at my top choice. There were several departments I could fit in with, but this Univ only let one department view the application at a time. I had been accepted by the first department that got my application, but I didn't find out until the first week of April that they couldn't fund me, so I scrambled to get my application forwarded to the other department I was interested in and managed to get myself interviews with faculty members there. It was not a situation where I could have easily cut my losses and gone to the runner up school and moved on; that top choice school was not only my favorite academically, but it was also the only one that would solve my two body problem. I had declined all of the other institutions except for my second choice already, but I still feel bad about stringing the second choice along until I finally got a funding offer from Dream Univ after my interview on April 13...

Anonymous said...

I was a post-April 15th decider. There were two frontrunners A&B, as I visited other places I would decline within the next week. The exception were the waitlist place (which notified me close to the deadline that they had filled the class) and one 2nd tier that didn't contact me at all until ~ April 20th to ask if I was still interested (um no) and _then_ sent a rejection letter.
I accepted Univ. A ~ April 13th, moderately freaked out, then ended up walking it back and got Univ. B to take me anyhow ~ April 18. Still feel guilty about tying up funding at Univ. A

funkdoctorx said...

Some might be curious that hear that there is no academic "D-Day" in the UK...they do things a little differently on the other side of the pond!

http://funkdoctorx.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/no-d-day-in-the-uk/

Anonymous said...

I was accepted to six schools, and declined three of them prior to their open house dates, another a day after visiting, and another after my very last visit. In the mean time, two schools put me on their wait lists, and I waited till April 15th to accept my last to offer, hoping for a waitlist acceptance.

sarcozona said...

I wrote above that I declined offers in a relatively timely fashion - and I thought I had. I emailed the profs I was interested in working with, the department chair, and the fellowship director. I check on the application website for a decline button and didn't find one, and assumed I was done with the whole business.

But they'd emailed a link to a web form shortly after interviews. The email implied that it only needed to be filled out if you chose to accept an offer. I found out yesterday that wasn't so - the web form was also where you formally declined an offer. So it looks like I'm one of those "flaky students out there, who can't bother to (or figure out how to) check the 'decline' box on a web form."

Anonymous said...

I applied to 10 schools and got accepted to 9 of them. I declined all the offers except three schools long before the April 15 deadline. I couldn't decide on which school to go to among the three schools until the very last week though... I kinda feel bad about it.

Anonymous said...

So, this was over a month ago now (just discovered this blog), but:

I got into three schools, all of which I visited. I was seriously considering each of them (the two schools that rejected me were the ones that I considered my "safeties", so that worked out nicely). Two of them were in a part of the US I'd never even been to (I live and go to school in the US, but on the opposite coast), and I was kind of intimidated by the prospect of going that far away for a whole week in the middle of the semester, but I figured I couldn't make an informed decision about where to go without visiting all three.

The school I'm going to be attending in the fall was the last one I visited. My visit was actually delayed quite a bit because of weather, so I ended up going there on April 1st or thereabouts. (My visit to the other two was almost exactly a month earlier.) They told me they would give me all the financial information when I visited (and no earlier), and it wasn't like I was going to make a decision without knowing that. So that's already a month after my visit to the first two that I had to keep them waiting, because I hadn't even been to the third (and was still lacking important information). I had a little less than 2 weeks to decide, and mailed my acceptance form to School 3 around April 7th. Immediately after doing so, I emailed the DGS at each of the other two schools, informing them of my decision.

After only having visited the first two schools, I was pretty sure I would have gone to School 2 over School 1, and if I hadn't had any other choices, I probably would have accepted School 2 officially sometime in early March. So I guess I could have declined School 1 earlier, since it was basically a choice between School 2 and School 3 at that point…but I would have felt awkward writing to the DGS there that "I haven't decided where I'm going yet, but it's definitely not School 1". So I waited until I could tell everyone that I'd accepted a specific offer.