What your grad school admissions letter means


  • What your grad school admissions letter means

    After all of the hard work and preparation that goes into a grad school application, it’s a relief for prospective students to finally receive an admissions letter from their top school. However, the information that’s inside isn’t always as black and white as it might seem. It could say that an applicant is accepted with or without funding, wait-listed or rejected, and the next step is knowing what to do with that information.

    “Students can be accepted to a program with or without funding.”

    Accepted
    Students can be accepted to a program with or without funding. When funding is listed in the admissions letter, it’s important for students to make sure they know if their graduate study will be fully-funded. On the one hand, USA Today noted that students who receive fellowships don’t need to take additional steps to receive the full monetary offer. On the other hand, if an assistantship is offered, the accepted student may be required to assist in teaching a class, or perform other department-related work to receive the funding. Students should be sure to find out exactly what will be expected, and how they can go about finding a job that’s best for them.

    Wait-listed
    Students who have been wait-listed, should see what offers they have from other colleges while waiting for the school’s final decision. Although it can be challenging to wait on another admissions letter, it’s encouraging for students to know that there’s still a chance they could be accepted. It’s also important to note that funding may be available if they are accepted. USA Today recommends that wait-listed applicants follow up with the admissions department in April to further express interest in the program and check the status of their application. This could potentially put them in a better position to be accepted the following year if they choose to reapply.

    Rejected
    It can be discouraging for students to receive a letter of rejection — especially from their top choice school. However, there’s a lot to be learned from the experience. For starters, it causes applicants to take a second look at their application. Since a great deal of time likely passed, they can review their submission with fresh eyes. That alone could potentially reveal what went wrong. Perhaps it was a minor error in the application, or a subpar test score that could be improved with more study. Students can also use the rejection to learn how to set themselves up for success in the future. They can reach out to a career coach or meet with their career services department at their undergraduate school for insight into how to increase their odds of acceptance the next time around.

    Next steps
    Deciding on a grad school is a two-way street. Once students know which options are open to them, it’s up to them to make the final decision on how to proceed. Accepting or rejecting an offer is quite straightforward, but those may not be the only options available. It may be possible for them to defer admission if they feel it’s in their best interest to do so. In that case, it’s important to check with the admissions department to understand the school’s policies regarding deferral. It may require an additional enrollment deposit, or even come with a new set of application instructions. Applicants should know the full extent of their options before making a final decision.

    By Monique Smith

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