Your best option is to wait and reapply next year.
Hi guys. I've got quite a serious problem that I caused myself. I believe that I made a wrong decision when choosing which offer to accept. I feel that I did what other people were advising me to do and that I didn't follow what my heart was signaling. I know it's a very stupid thing to ask about, but do you think it is theoretically possible to change the decision after the April 15th deadline - after I accepted one offer and rejected another, assuming that the other school didn't get any other student off their waitlist (they didn't have one)?
PS: To whoever downvoted the OP. This forum is a generally very constructive place. The custom is to only downvote a post if the poster is being disruptive or is wildly, wildly wrong. (Not just because one disagrees or doesn't like what's being said.)
OP, a cause for some optimism. If you had such a hard time deciding, it's because you rank these programs very closely all around, and so the margin you're operating on is probably not that large. So to my read, you can't make a very large mistake either way.
Of course, you should try to choose what is best. But also recognize that - these programs being of similar value to you - your goal now is to get excited about whichever one you are attending and try not to dwell on the alternative.
I also think it would make sense think hard and get some advice on the reasons you are considering switching. You want to attend a program that is relatively strong in your area of interest and supports graduate students well. Don't be overly swayed by short term placement results or by a few thousand dollars differences in funding. I'm happy to chat more if you'd like to send a PM.
I don't see anything wrong with OP's question or intentions. It's only 3 days after April 15. Most programs will still be making waitlist offers. Reneging on your offer at this point doesn't create significant negative externalities. It's certainly less of a headache than the 10% of first-year PhD students who drop out during the academic year. Some randomness in attrition is expected, and at this point it's not even clear if OP will be creating attrition. Heck, if OP had a funded offer, maybe an unfunded student will now get that funding.
As for whether it's theoretically possible, this is the part of the CGS resolution that matters:
So if you get a written release from your program, then there's no barrier to accepting the other offer you slightly prefer right now. But asking for a release, and failing to get it, has potential reputational costs with your current program (which you'd be committed to attending in that scenario - unless you want to waste a year). Assuming you get expected discounted sum of benefits w from taking the other offer, and reputational costs c if you renege and fail, you just need to determine if p*w > (1-p)*c.However, an acceptance given or left in force after April 15 commits the student not to accept another offer without first obtaining a written release from the institution to which a commitment has been made. Similarly, an offer by an institution after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of the written release from any previously accepted offer.
We can't tell you how big w is. I guess c will depend mostly on the personality of your director of admissions. But I agree with startz' opinion that p is close to 1, so I'd lean towards asking for a release.
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