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Your Applications Are In, But It’s Not Too Late To Hurt Your Chances

January 17, 2013

We’re nearing the end of January, and application deadlines for many graduate programs, for entry in September 2013, have already passed. Decisions will not be announced for several more weeks. In the meantime, some applicants will find the wait unbearable, and all sorts of irrational ideas about what might be going on will creep into their thoughts (especially at night). If this describes you, then you really need forget about your applications for a while. They are out of your hands.

Importantly, although you cannot do anything now to improve your chances of being accepted, it’s not too late to make a mistake that will hurt your chances. I have known it to happen to applicants who got overwhelmed with worry as weeks went by and eventually decided to contact a graduate program to ask about the status of their application. They contacted either a graduate program director, or a potential supervisor, and due to the timing, their inquiries were perceived negatively, as either an attempt to manipulate the decisions, or a reflection of someone who does not deal well with uncertainty or stress. Contacting a graduate program between the application deadline and the time that decisions are announced won’t always have dire consequences for an applicant, but it is still better to resist any temptation to do it. Besides, one should not be contacting the important decision-makers at any point after the application deadline. There is always a secretary or administrative assistant whose responsibilities include dealing with questions from applicants. That person would be the right person to contact to check on an application, but it is still better to be patient. If you absolutely must phone or send an email to find out what’s happening, in order to avoid going crazy, don’t do it more than once. It could give the impression that you are egocentric, imagining your candidacy is of monumental importance to the program. Or it could suggest that you are impulsive or neurotic. If someone from a program wants to talk with you about your application, that person will contact you.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    April 17, 2013 5:06 PM

    I just wanted to share that I was admitted to my chosen masters program at U of T. Thank you for the insightful blogs. Reading them helped wrap my head around the admissions process and also stopped me from going nuts while waiting. Also, I just wanted to mention that this blog says ‘3 comments’ but I can only see 2. Not sure why the 3rd is hidden?

  2. Matt permalink
    January 18, 2013 7:32 PM

    What a perfectly timed post! This is probably the most difficult part of applying–waiting for decisions. Although I dont feel it necessary to ask about the status of my application, I do have the desire to find out more about the selection process. For instance, the program I applied to received over 700 applications. But I wonder how many of those applications are screened out due to being incomplete or for any other reason calling for immediate rejection? I also wonder how the committee weighs gpa improvement for second time applicants like myself.
    However, although I had no intention of calling the school, after reading this post I have definitely settled down a bit.


  1. Your Applications Are In, But It's Not Too Late To Hurt Your Chances | The PhD Path |

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