Weighing Your Options
If you’ve been accepted by two or more programs, you’ll now need to weigh the relative merits of each one. Questions you can ask yourself include:
- Is one program more prestigious than the other?
- Is that prestige based on the real value of the education or merely on the reputation of the school?
- Is the location appealing and convenient?
- What kind of money is the school offering?
- How much debt will I amass by attending this school?
- Are faculty well-connected in the field?
Only you can decide what those determining factors should be. Talk with friends and faculty, create a list of pros and cons, speak with current graduate students, and collect any data that will help you make an informed decision. Just make sure the decision is based on carefully considered criteria.
Accepting an Offer
Be polite and respond in a timely manner. Your admission letter will likely give you a date by which to respond, and the information they require with the response. Offers of financial aid may or may not be included with your admission letter. If you have not heard about financial aid by the time you need to accept or decline the offer, it is reasonable to call the department about your aid.
If you need more time to make your admission decision, contact the department to see if the deadline can be extended—in many cases, they will be accommodating as long as you keep the lines of communication open!
Declining an Offer
Again, be courteous and respond on or before the deadline. Be mindful that there may be others on a waiting list to get into that program, and the sooner you respond, the sooner offers can be made to other candidates.
What if I Don’t Get In?
If you aren’t accepted to any graduate programs, it’s natural to feel a bit dejected. But once those emotions subside, take some time to evaluate your applications, your motives and your effort. It’s important to understand why you were not accepted into a graduate program and if you can remedy those reasons.
- Ask if you can receive feedback on your application
- Look for ways to strengthen your application (references, test scores, etc.)
- Apply during a different semester which might be less competitive
- Get additional work experience or education that may make you a more competitive candidate in the future
- Consider programs that might be less competitive
- Determine if and when you would like to reapply