Corona virus's effect on graduation admissions

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

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jabennett2194
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Corona virus's effect on graduation admissions

Post by jabennett2194 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:24 pm

Over 15 of the 20 top US physics PhD programs have canceled their open houses with no plan to reschedule.

Some are intended on running "virtual open houses." Other's are just sending links to information that could be found on the internet regarding their program.

Is the April 15th requirement of a decision regarding accepting grad school offers of admission still ethical?

Is it reasonable to propose that April 15th be moved a month or two later to let corona virus paranoia burn out and for departments to redo their open houses?

A STEM PhD could take anywhere from 4-7 years in the US. That is a non-trivial amount of your life.

It does not seem ethical to require students to make this decision without meeting (in person) the PIs at these institutions they intend to work under.

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Nishikata
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Re: Corona virus's effect on graduation admissions

Post by Nishikata » Tue Mar 10, 2020 2:21 pm

Open House is just a bonus event. It is not a must-have in the admission package. Remember, every year some students receive offers after the open house day.

Nothing stops you from arranging a meeting with individual labs. It doesn’t have to be at Open House day, does it?

Unless you are international student from China, Korea, Iran, and countries which are banned to enter US at all. Even then, there’s Skype.

AstroObs
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Re: Corona virus's effect on graduation admissions

Post by AstroObs » Tue Mar 10, 2020 2:38 pm

The events are cancelled, so ethical or not extending the deadline won’t change much. I agree that visiting yourself is the best option, and you can ask if they will cover your expenses.

I attended an early open house. On the one hand, they are a fun way to meet students/faculty and most everyone in the department put a lot of work into it. On the other hand, I feel like I got a sales pitch that I can only hope represents year round activities. I think it does... but by visiting yourself you can get a better picture of normal life.

jabennett2194
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Re: Corona virus's effect on graduation admissions

Post by jabennett2194 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 4:48 pm

Universities (at least those I was accepted to and got emails from) are explicitly forbidding personal visits to the department :/

AstroObs
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Re: Corona virus's effect on graduation admissions

Post by AstroObs » Tue Mar 10, 2020 10:03 pm

Ok, that is a different situation. You are right that you should certainly visit the school before you accept their offer, unless there is a single school that is clearly above the rest in which case you should go ahead and accept. Otherwise, I suggest you try sending an email where you ask to have a personal exemption to visit. Most importantly, put it in terms of ‘I am unwilling to commit to a school without a visit, especially when there is plenty of time left to make one. While I am very interested in attending your university, it would be a shame to have to decline your offer just because of this travel restriction.’

Check with a advisor/professor to be sure, but in my mind that would be reasonable and particularly effective since most schools did not cancel visits. Frankly, if they do not honor the request that is debatably a red flag in terms of university policy rigidity vs interest in you as an applicant. If no schools honor the request and you have the money, you could still visit but just check out the campus and surrounding area :/

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Nishikata
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Re: Corona virus's effect on graduation admissions

Post by Nishikata » Wed Mar 11, 2020 12:45 am

Ok, that is a different situation. You are right that you should certainly visit the school before you accept their offer, unless there is a single school that is clearly above the rest in which case you should go ahead and accept. Otherwise, I suggest you try sending an email where you ask to have a personal exemption to visit. Most importantly, put it in terms of ‘I am unwilling to commit to a school without a visit, especially when there is plenty of time left to make one. While I am very interested in attending your university, it would be a shame to have to decline your offer just because of this travel restriction.’

Check with a advisor/professor to be sure, but in my mind that would be reasonable and particularly effective since most schools did not cancel visits. Frankly, if they do not honor the request that is debatably a red flag in terms of university policy rigidity vs interest in you as an applicant. If no schools honor the request and you have the money, you could still visit but just check out the campus and surrounding area :/
It's not that simple. If there's an ironclad rule set by the university board, it'll be difficult for any employee of the university to make an exception on their own and communicate it to you in writing. That may put them on the spot.

Also, it is not wise to send emails in those terms. As I wrote above, more likely than not, they will at most reply that the policy has been decided and leave it at that. It'll look bad on you, if you decided to accept their offer at the end. At worst, they'll consider that your decline of their offer. Do not send this kind of threatening messages.

AstroObs
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Re: Corona virus's effect on graduation admissions

Post by AstroObs » Wed Mar 11, 2020 1:02 am

Nishikata wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 12:45 am
Ok, that is a different situation. You are right that you should certainly visit the school before you accept their offer, unless there is a single school that is clearly above the rest in which case you should go ahead and accept. Otherwise, I suggest you try sending an email where you ask to have a personal exemption to visit. Most importantly, put it in terms of ‘I am unwilling to commit to a school without a visit, especially when there is plenty of time left to make one. While I am very interested in attending your university, it would be a shame to have to decline your offer just because of this travel restriction.’

Check with a advisor/professor to be sure, but in my mind that would be reasonable and particularly effective since most schools did not cancel visits. Frankly, if they do not honor the request that is debatably a red flag in terms of university policy rigidity vs interest in you as an applicant. If no schools honor the request and you have the money, you could still visit but just check out the campus and surrounding area :/
It's not that simple. If there's an ironclad rule set by the university board, it'll be difficult for any employee of the university to make an exception on their own and communicate it to you in writing. That may put them on the spot.

Also, it is not wise to send emails in those terms. As I wrote above, more likely than not, they will at most reply that the policy has been decided and leave it at that. It'll look bad on you, if you decided to accept their offer at the end. At worst, they'll consider that your decline of their offer. Do not send this kind of threatening messages.
As long as you word your letter correctly I don’t think there is a danger of them rescinding your offer or taking it as a decline - but you can have a prof look over it to be sure.

In any case, I do agree that it is more likely your only visitation option is to fund yourself and not actually to tour the department. Sorry the situation is as it is, but you can still feel happy to get in - and moreover to have multiple options!

EDIT: And to be honest, seeing the city is perhaps the most valuable part of the visit, since you will live there for 5-7 years. So - if you can afford it - there is no reason to be that bummed not meeting the actual department.

Bobandham
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Re: Corona virus's effect on graduation admissions

Post by Bobandham » Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:34 pm

Would be kinda nice if they moved back the April 15 deadline. However, the situation may get worse before it gets better.



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