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Is it ok to cancel an acceptance to an offer you've already acepted.

  1. Apr 8, 2008 #1
    moral dilema

    I have not done this but my question is this;

    Say I'm on the waiting lists at schools better than the one I was accepted to (phd program). The schools that accepted me want an answer by april 15th.
    The better programs that have me wait listed won't tell me until shortly after the 15th. My friend told me that I should accept and that if I get into a better program that I should just call the program I've accepted and tell them I changed my mind. I don't really feel right doing that but he assures me it's quite common. Is it a big deal? if I accept an offer and then change my mind a week later will I have done something wrong or is my self interest more important?
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 8, 2008 #2
    I guess I'm in need of a lesson on etiquette.
  4. Apr 8, 2008 #3
    they will sometimes give you an extension if you have a good reason, or make one up. That's what I did, and most places will be lenient to within reason. Don't tell them you are waiting to hear from another school though, think of a better reason.
  5. Apr 8, 2008 #4
  6. Apr 8, 2008 #5


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    This decision's basically down to you, and I'm not sure anyone can really advise you. I'm not really sure what the system is like where you are, but I at least know that when I applied for PhD programmes, invitations for interviews, interviews and ultimate selections were done by specific members of the department who wanted you to work with them. Screwing them around isn't going to do you any good, since they may well be the people you are applying to for jobs in the future!

    However, I understand that in some countries the system is a little different, and thus you may not have had personal contact with a member of faculty that you are going to mess about. Whilst this doesn't excuse the action, it makes my above point moot. Some advice I would give you is that if you are only thinking of accepting the offer as it's the only one you've got, and that you don't really want to go there, then I'd say not to accept the offer anyway. If you do want to go there, then accept it, but you really should think twice about changing your mind should you hear from "someone better."

    A final point to consider is that, since you're on the waiting list for these places, it means that you are not in the first group of people that they wanted and you are basically just waiting to fill a gap that someone else may leave.
  7. Apr 8, 2008 #6
    Hopefully the school you accepted has a waitlist too, so that if you drop your acceptance, they can offer your place to someone else. Otherwise they'll be pissed because they will be short one student.
  8. Apr 8, 2008 #7
    ^ that's exactly what I was thinking. It's a good school, I'm happy to accept and am happy that they accepted me. I am just worried about not ending up at the best place I can end up at. If that's the wrong way to think about it than maybe I don't have the right viewpoint and I would love to hear someone else'.
  9. Apr 8, 2008 #8
    but I have to consider what happens if a school I may like better than the "accepted" one calls me. I just wish I had more time. This is a tough decision. I think that I should just count myself lucky, I got into a good program and it's in a place I would like to live.
  10. Apr 8, 2008 #9
    I would say, you're a highly unethical person if you don't keep on your promise to attend the already accepted school. But I also think that if you go to school you've already accepted just because of the promise you made, you're a fool.
  11. Apr 8, 2008 #10
    This is indeed the case, which is why my gut tells me not to be greedy and just be thankful I got into a good school, regardless of whether ot not it's the best out of the batch I applied to.

  12. Apr 8, 2008 #11
    I had the exact same situation this year, I applied to 4 school, all very good institutions. I got accepted at one of them really early (one of the top schools in the country) and they wanted a response (March 12th) weeks before I would hear back from other schools. I asked for an extension I ended up getting accepted to all of them and a funded trip to visit all of them. They were good about giving me an extension till Apr 1st, at which point I had visited all schools and had a chance to choose which was best for me.

    I am pretty sure they would have looked down harshly if I had accepted and then later reneged.
  13. Apr 8, 2008 #12
    I should ad I've yet to accept any offer. I'm just asking myself the question.
  14. Apr 8, 2008 #13
    Asking if you can have more time to decide isn't a bad idea.

    Whatever you do, don't pay any enrollment deposits until you're ready, because that constitutes an acceptance. The law schools I was accepted to really hammered that point home.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2008
  15. Apr 9, 2008 #14
    Yeah, lawyers tend to do that.
  16. Apr 9, 2008 #15
    what? work with self interest as opposed to moral clarity?

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