I Haven’t Heard Back Yet, AM I REJECTED?

If you haven't heard back from graduate school admissions yet, does it mean you're rejected?
For most applicants, the blissful few weeks after applications are submitted is a gift. Finals are over and you have a week or two away from work and school. But after the holidays wind down and you’ve recovered from New Year’s Eve, it can be difficult not to jump right back into obsessing…If you haven't heard back from graduate school admissions yet, does it mean you're rejected?
This feeling is bad enough as it is, but unfortunately you haven’t hit the 9th level of hell quite yet…
No, the worst of the worst goes as follows:
You’re perusing the GradCafe results page (or checking a results forum like physicsgre.com), when you see it. An acceptance (or interview) post from a program you applied to…
If you haven't heard back from graduate school admissions yet, does it mean you're rejected?

Frantic, you open your email (which you just checked 11 seconds ago). Nothing. Spam folder? Nothing. Then you rush to the application portal, but alas– nothing.
In many ways this is worse than an outright rejection. Your blood pressure spikes and anxiety overtakes you, but you can’t even process any grief because you don’t know for sure that you’ve actually been rejected. Will you be let in during a second round of admission letters? What if your acceptance is being mailed instead of emailed? Should you email the admissions office and ask? HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY GO TO A MOVIE, HANG OUT WITH PEOPLE, OR WORK WHEN YOU HAVE THIS HANGING OVER YOU?!
It’s a bad place to be, but try to stay calm. We’re going to walk you through it.
If you haven’t heard back from graduate school admissions yet, this is that you need to know:
(1) First, most programs (tend to) send out acceptances around the same time, but not necessarily the same day. It’s very common for them to update applicant statuses over the course of 2-4 days. This is particularly true if the program to which you applied is large. If it’s Monday and you haven’t heard from them, it’s entirely possible you’ll get your acceptance on Tuesday or Wednesday of that week. If someone got an acceptance within the last 12 hours, and you haven’t heard anything, don’t freak out yet.
(2) Most programs do not spread out admissions decisions across timeframes longer than a week. Meaning, if you see that Columbia’s Neurobiology department sent out a dozen acceptances two weeks ago, and you haven’t heard back, well…
If you haven't heard back from graduate school admissions yet, does it mean you're rejected?
(3) If a large batch of acceptances have gone out, and you’ve heard nothing–this still doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re rejected. It isn’t great news, but there is still plenty of hope to cling to. Programs sometimes wait to get their first batch of declines to gauge how many more students they can accept. In those cases they might send out a small “secondary” batch of acceptances (dramatically less than the first batch) closer to the deadline. Many programs also offer waitlists, and while a waitlist isn’t a great place to be, it certainly isn’t the worst. People do get accepted off the waitlist. 
(4) If the program you applied to is based on faculty “choosing” you for a group (where you pick faculty you’re interested in immediately, instead of entering into a rotation system), students tend to get notified at fairly random intervals. Faculty will sift through applicant profiles and decide who they want to accept at their convenience in many ways. It’s possible that one person might hear from a faculty member they know very early, while another student might not hear back until several weeks later.
(5) Different programs let students know at different times. If you can’t find solid proof that they’ve sent out acceptances (through gradcafe or another forum), don’t assume the worst. The trend in the last five years has been earlier and earlier deadlines and notifications–but this is not the case across the board. Many programs don’t notify applicants until well into March.
(6) Lastly, if you haven’t heard back from graduate school admissions yet, and discover that they’ve invited other applicants to interview–sorry, this is a bad sign. Again, with waitlists and the anomalous late admits it’s still possible, but it’s very unlikely that you’ll get an acceptance at this point. Programs that interview applicants use the process to whittle down the pool. In some cases they’ll accept students without interviewing, but by and large those students are notified before the invitations to interview are sent out.
If you know that many people have received acceptances, and you absolutely can’t live without knowing more, it’s ok to email the program and ask. You may not hear back right away, and they may not provide a lot of useful information– but some will take mercy and just tell you if you’ve been rejected. At least you can process your grief and move on to other things.
Regardless of your situation, this is a stressful time for applicants, often more so than even applying in the first place. Try to keep your wits about you. Even if you’re rejected from every single program you applied to, you can always reapply next year– you have options. And while getting rejected from your dream school is heartbreaking, you have no idea what kind of wonderful growth, professors, friends, and experiences await you at the program you end up attending. Graduate school is 100% what you make of it, so staying optimistic and enthusiastic is the best way to get where you want to be.

 

 

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I Haven’t Heard Back Yet, AM I REJECTED?

If you haven't heard back from graduate school admissions yet, does it mean you're rejected? December 23rd, 2016
For most applicants, the blissful few weeks after applications are submitted is a gift. Finals are over and you have a week or two away from work and school. But after the holidays wind down and you’ve recovered from New Year’s Eve, it can be difficult not to jump right back into obsessing…If you haven't heard back from graduate school admissions yet, does it mean you're rejected?
This feeling is bad enough as it is, but unfortunately you haven’t hit the 9th level of hell quite yet…
No, the worst of the worst goes as follows:
You’re perusing the GradCafe results page (or checking a results forum like physicsgre.com), when you see it. An acceptance (or interview) post from a program you applied to…
If you haven't heard back from graduate school admissions yet, does it mean you're rejected?

Frantic, you open your email (which you just checked 11 seconds ago). Nothing. Spam folder? Nothing. Then you rush to the application portal, but alas– nothing.
In many ways this is worse than an outright rejection. Your blood pressure spikes and anxiety overtakes you, but you can’t even process any grief because you don’t know for sure that you’ve actually been rejected. Will you be let in during a second round of admission letters? What if your acceptance is being mailed instead of emailed? Should you email the admissions office and ask? HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY GO TO A MOVIE, HANG OUT WITH PEOPLE, OR WORK WHEN YOU HAVE THIS HANGING OVER YOU?!
It’s a bad place to be, but try to stay calm. We’re going to walk you through it.
If you haven’t heard back from graduate school admissions yet, this is that you need to know:
(1) First, most programs (tend to) send out acceptances around the same time, but not necessarily the same day. It’s very common for them to update applicant statuses over the course of 2-4 days. This is particularly true if the program to which you applied is large. If it’s Monday and you haven’t heard from them, it’s entirely possible you’ll get your acceptance on Tuesday or Wednesday of that week. If someone got an acceptance within the last 12 hours, and you haven’t heard anything, don’t freak out yet.
(2) Most programs do not spread out admissions decisions across timeframes longer than a week. Meaning, if you see that Columbia’s Neurobiology department sent out a dozen acceptances two weeks ago, and you haven’t heard back, well…
If you haven't heard back from graduate school admissions yet, does it mean you're rejected?
(3) If a large batch of acceptances have gone out, and you’ve heard nothing–this still doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re rejected. It isn’t great news, but there is still plenty of hope to cling to. Programs sometimes wait to get their first batch of declines to gauge how many more students they can accept. In those cases they might send out a small “secondary” batch of acceptances (dramatically less than the first batch) closer to the deadline. Many programs also offer waitlists, and while a waitlist isn’t a great place to be, it certainly isn’t the worst. People do get accepted off the waitlist. 
(4) If the program you applied to is based on faculty “choosing” you for a group (where you pick faculty you’re interested in immediately, instead of entering into a rotation system), students tend to get notified at fairly random intervals. Faculty will sift through applicant profiles and decide who they want to accept at their convenience in many ways. It’s possible that one person might hear from a faculty member they know very early, while another student might not hear back until several weeks later.
(5) Different programs let students know at different times. If you can’t find solid proof that they’ve sent out acceptances (through gradcafe or another forum), don’t assume the worst. The trend in the last five years has been earlier and earlier deadlines and notifications–but this is not the case across the board. Many programs don’t notify applicants until well into March.
(6) Lastly, if you haven’t heard back from graduate school admissions yet, and discover that they’ve invited other applicants to interview–sorry, this is a bad sign. Again, with waitlists and the anomalous late admits it’s still possible, but it’s very unlikely that you’ll get an acceptance at this point. Programs that interview applicants use the process to whittle down the pool. In some cases they’ll accept students without interviewing, but by and large those students are notified before the invitations to interview are sent out.
If you know that many people have received acceptances, and you absolutely can’t live without knowing more, it’s ok to email the program and ask. You may not hear back right away, and they may not provide a lot of useful information– but some will take mercy and just tell you if you’ve been rejected. At least you can process your grief and move on to other things.
Regardless of your situation, this is a stressful time for applicants, often more so than even applying in the first place. Try to keep your wits about you. Even if you’re rejected from every single program you applied to, you can always reapply next year– you have options. And while getting rejected from your dream school is heartbreaking, you have no idea what kind of wonderful growth, professors, friends, and experiences await you at the program you end up attending. Graduate school is 100% what you make of it, so staying optimistic and enthusiastic is the best way to get where you want to be.

 

 

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