HELP,Please What does this Email mean?

  • Thread starter jin8
  • Start date
I applied for a REU program in our department one week ago, and I just received an email today. I think I was in when I read the first sentence, but as it turns out it is not.

Dear XXX,

We are very impressed with your application to join our REU team in
theoretical astrophysics and general relativity, beginning this
summer. Although we are still reviewing applications, we want you to
know that you are on our short list of top candidates whom we are
considering very seriously for a position.

We plan to contact you soon after the Spring break, at which time we
will be making final selections. In the meantime we wanted you to know
that we think you have a very strong application. We look forward to
getting back in touch with you after the break.

All the best,

So what should I do next? find the professors and talk to them?
Through all those euphimisms one thing we might guess, which is quite common, is that you are on a waiting list. This means that some people have been offered a position but have not responded, and if enough of them do not accept their offer then you will be offered a position.

Andy Resnick

Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
I think it's permissible to contact a professor and ask for clarification.


Science Advisor
Homework Helper
So what should I do next? find the professors and talk to them?
Hi jin8! :smile:

Keep applying for other programs, and if you get an acceptance that requires you to reply before the end of spring break, then talk to your professors.
I got an email that said essentially the same thing. It said that I was one of a very few candidates selected by a particular REU mentor. I suggest you simply wait, unless you get an offer which has a time limit. What happened in my situation is the mentor ended up conducting phone interviews. That email says you are on a waiting list: you are not exactly accepted, but you aren't outright rejected either. It is a good sign, and you have a decent shot at getting the position.

And you applied one week ago? That is a fairly late deadline.


Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
I don't understand how that letter is confusing. Do you not know what a short list is?

Essentially when you have a large pool of applicants, you narrow down your choice by a set of criteria - for example a GPA over a certain cutoff value, experience with a certain program, etc. Those who meet these criteria are on the "short list." The applications of those on the list are then assessed in more detail - for example, by interview.

The letter doesn't require you to do anything. They just wanted to let you know that you're still in the running.

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