Chances of being admitted to a school I previously rejected

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Chances of being admitted to a school I previously rejected

Post by helpme » Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:16 pm

Here is my story:

A couple of years ago I was accepted to two top schools (I don't want to give out names) in my field of interest, theoretical high energy. One school excelled in phenomenology and the other in mathematical physics. It was a tough decision, and I waited till the last day to decide because I was so torn apart. In the end, I selected the school that is known for mathematical physics.

I attended the school for a semester, but then had to take a medical leave due to some serious health problems that came to light. It is now a year later, and I'm finally getting to the point where I can manage and deal with my illnesses and would like to return to studying physics. However, during my medical leave, my interests changed (my struggle with health problems has affected the way I view life). I spent a lot of free time reading current research papers in particle physics towards the phenomenology end of the spectrum. I now realize that this is the area of physics I want to focus on, and my initial graduate school decision was a HUGE mistake -- probably the worst decision of my entire life. The school I turned down would have been the perfect fit for me.

If I reapplied, what are my chances of being accepted to the initial school I rejected? Do schools hold grudges against people who rejected them? Would it be a waste of application money to even bother applying? I know I would have to wait a year to apply since I'm too late this year, but I can deal with that. Opinions?

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Re: Chances of being admitted to a school I previously rejected

Post by meggo » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:39 pm

Grad schools know that this is a tough decision, and I can't see why they'd hold a grudge against you (especially if you explain what happened). It's not like you were sitting there knowing you were going to reject them until April 15, and just waited until then to laugh at them.

I don't see the harm in reapplying. In fact, if they were really disappointed not to get you, then they might be excited that you changed your mind. :)

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Re: Chances of being admitted to a school I previously rejected

Post by geshi » Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:55 pm

I turned down a couple places via phone (although they requested an email followup for confirmation). They were perfectly pleasant and understanding. As meggo said, I can't imagine they'll hold a grudge. You could consider sending a cover letter with an explanation, but that seems sort of excessive and silly to me.

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Re: Chances of being admitted to a school I previously rejected

Post by Ryalnos » Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:04 am

I doubt any graduate school would take a rejection personally as long as you weren't a jerk about it. Grad schools may prefer that you choose early, but they won't hold it against you for waiting until the deadline.

Anyway, if you applied a couple years ago they may not remember you that well unless your application was especially unique.
Your story sounds compelling, however, and I imagine you would have a reasonable shot at being admitted if you included it in your statement of purpose.
Last edited by Ryalnos on Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Chances of being admitted to a school I previously rejected

Post by noojens » Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:31 am

Agreed. If you can explain your reasons for transferring/reapplying sincerely and convincingly, and if you have a contact at your old school (the mathematical physics one) who'll write you a recommendation to the effect that you left on good terms, you should have a very good shot.

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Re: Chances of being admitted to a school I previously rejected

Post by astroprof » Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:36 pm

You should contact the department directly to discuss your situation.
You may be pleasantly surprised to find that your previous admission
to the graduate program is still valid. At my university, admissions
decisions are valid for two years, even if a student has declined our
offer previously. That said, we are NOT obligated to provide the same
(or any) financial support once a student has declined our initial offer.
So you should contact the department to see if you need to reapply,
and to see if you would be considered for a TA or RA appointment
at the present time.

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