The school cannot officially ask you to say yes or no before April 15. It could be that the faculty are not aware of the rule. Or perhaps the school is not in the US. Often though these apparent breaches are just misunderstandings.
I'm curious if anyone has experience with schools saying something along the lines of "we'll make you an offer only if you make a statement that you won't go to other schools that you've heard back from".
Is this a normal thing for schools to do? Is this even allowed by the graduate council? What is the best response to this situation? I like the school in question but I don't want to forfeit my other offers/waitlists until I've visited campuses to meet the faculty. Also, I don't want to forfeit the possibility of getting into a better school that I'm waitlisted on.
EDIT: I realize now that my title of the thread is a little misleading. What I mean to ask about is schools pressuring for an answer before they even give you the offer.
Last edited by tflan; 03-08-2018 at 03:58 PM.
It doesn't constitute a breach. More importantly the agreed upon April 15 is more of a gentlemen's agreement than a legally binding contract.
That being said, while what they sent you was uncommon it's not unheard of. Accepting applicants is costly to schools. Anything that they can do to ensure that the offer isn't going to waste is worth their time. While it's a bit "forceful" of them to do, I see where they are coming from. For that matter for applicants this is a positive. Stringing schools along without giving them a yes or no, hurts other candidates who would have said yes to the school who are on the waitlist.
All of that being said to say, it's a rough situation for you to be in if you think that you will have better offers. If you would definitely say yes to the school there is no issue telling them that, assuming that you would in fact immediately accept their acceptance.
That's more direct than I have heard before, but it isn't unusual for schools to want some assurance that you would actually attend before making an offer. Once they make the offer it has to be outstanding until April 15 or until you decline it and they generally have a limit to how many they can have outstanding at a time.
I think the best response is to be open. If they would be your top choice currently, you can say that, but that you want to wait for a couple other schools, or that you at least want to finish flyouts. I wouldn't commit before finishing flyouts if you will probably have other options.
Schools are not legally prohibited from retracting offers before April 15. Largely, though, they hold to that deadline.
I had a school ask if I wanted to go there. I think they could tell that it was a backup school for me and they were a little behind schedule-wise. They basically said that if I would accept the offer, they would send it to me right away, but that if I wasn't sure or if I changed my mind, to let them know and they would give me an offer at that time. The POI I was talking to is pretty senior in the field and clearly has a good amount of pull in the B-school. I didn't take it poorly at all; he was just trying to keep his options open and not give me an offer if I was just going to reject it later and force him to go to his waitlist.
For a T20 school, though, that's a tough choice. I think in your case you need should respond back that you'd really like a chance to meet faculty/students and tour campus before choosing--and could we put off the deadline on the offer until then? "The other offers I've received have an April 15 deadline. I certainly hope to have everything sorted well before then and know that everyone is trying to manage their waitlist, etc."
In my experience, this is not particularly uncommon.
It is usually done through verbal offers. Many schools will not make an "official" acceptance decision until they have some level of certainty that you will accept their offer.
I think schools see this as a workaround the 4/15 "rule." As until you receive that letter from the University saying you're accepted, the University hasn't really accepted you and thus cannot retract the acceptance. Most departments don't tell the University who they have and have not accepted until they know your answer to whether you're going to come out not.
And it doesn't stop here—this is not an uncommon tactic in the job market as well.
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