Thoughts on rejecting a program after their deadline

  • #1
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I was fortunately accepted to a strong graduate program today. It really is a great program (e.g. top 25 ranking in Physics/Astronomy) but was largely a secondary plan. I will call this option Program B.

My main goal has always been to pursue a career in a very different field and I am still waiting to hear back from this program. This program is at a different institution and I will call it Program A.

Program B has offered me admission and I have until early March to accept/decline. Program A has a very late application and I won't know whether or not I am admitted/rejected until early June unfortunately. Both programs start in September 2017. I would be happy going into Program B and seeing what happens, but I know Program A is still my absolute first choice if I can get in. Thus, I am wondering: what are the consequences of leaving Program B before actually starting their program despite initially accepting their offer?

Program B is at an amazing institution with hundreds of graduate students in the department I was accepted to. I would of course not want to leave any poor impressions on them for perhaps future connections but am also unsure as to if this is really a big deal or not. Thus I am wondering what your thoughts are on the matter.

Perhaps important: Program B is only 1-year long while Program A will take 4 years and I could apply again (if I don't get in right now) after I finish Program B.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Vanadium 50
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Where is this?

The Council of Graduate Schools has the so-called "April 15 Resolution", just to avoid that problem. Membership is near-universal in the US, somewhat less so in Canada. (Totonto and UBC are in, Carlton is not)
 
  • #3
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Where is this?

The Council of Graduate Schools has the so-called "April 15 Resolution", just to avoid that problem. Membership is near-universal in the US, somewhat less so in Canada. (Totonto and UBC are in, Carlton is not)
Interesting. Although my first choice, Program A, is not in Canada.
 
  • #4
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As V50 implied, if you don't let program B know by April 15th that you will be attending, it will be assumed that you've declined.
 
  • #5
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As V50 implied, if you don't let program B know by April 15th that you will be attending, it will be assumed that you've declined.
To clarify, I am wondering what the repercussions would be if I initially accept program B's offer before March 15, 2017 (to start in September 2017) yet then perhaps later decide in June/July 2017 that I do not wish to attend Program B. What are the repercussions of such an action? How greatly is the department at Program B affected by such an action?
 
  • #6
Vanadium 50
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I'm afraid that by keeping everything (even the country!) so secret, it's impossible for us to understand what the standards and norms are.
 
  • #7
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I'm afraid that by keeping everything (even the country!) so secret, it's impossible for us to understand what the standards and norms are.
Program B is a Physics program in North America that has essentially guaranteed my funding for graduate studies while Program A is simply a professional veterinary program in Europe.
 
  • #8
Choppy
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I'm not sure what you're looking for here.

Students do pull out after accepting offers of admission, and graduate programs survive when this happens. If you pull out in June, they may be able to offer admission to someone on their waiting list, if there is one. They may not. Obviously the earlier they know the better and in the worst case scenario it means that a spot in program B will go unfilled. If the program has "hundreds of graduate students" it's unlikely that your decision will have any major impact. Next year's budget likely won't be impacted too much by the loss of one applicant, and you probably are not being funded out of a single professor's grant. From your point of view, you would be unlikely to gain admission to that program again if program A doesn't work out.
 
  • #9
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I'm not sure what you're looking for here.

Students do pull out after accepting offers of admission, and graduate programs survive when this happens. If you pull out in June, they may be able to offer admission to someone on their waiting list, if there is one. They may not. Obviously the earlier they know the better and in the worst case scenario it means that a spot in program B will go unfilled. If the program has "hundreds of graduate students" it's unlikely that your decision will have any major impact. Next year's budget likely won't be impacted too much by the loss of one applicant, and you probably are not being funded out of a single professor's grant. From your point of view, you would be unlikely to gain admission to that program again if program A doesn't work out.
Thank you for the input. I guess I was just trying to understand the repercussions of my choice. A few supervisors/grad students I'd discussed this with were vehemently against the idea of accepting and then politely pulling out of the program. I just wanted to gain some more perspective on such a decision and understand if there was anything I was overlooking. I really would not want to burn any bridges in case of future collaborations but hopefully it's not as consequential as I've read from some of the posts here.
 
  • #10
Vanadium 50
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Accepting and then pulling out of a program is not very nice. It deprives, or at least can deprive, someone else of the opportunity.

However, given that you are talking about two very different programs on different continents, it's unlikely to go beyond that. If it were two physics programs in the US, it might have.
 

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