Acceptance Letters


If the offer comes over the phone, do not accept it verbally. Ask to see the offer in writing. And while you should not rush to accept an offer, you also don’t want to hold off on declining an offer if you are not interested anymore in a program. For instance, if you get into two programs– your first and your last pick, decline the last pick offer swiftly so other students can be notified and accepted for the slot. It is made professional karma to try and game a system too much. However if you have your first pick and a close runner up and the runner up is giving you more money, it is absolutely okay to talk to your first pick and let them know why you are holding off on accepting their offer. They might even increase your offer. Regardless, be considerate and notify the school as soon as you’ve made a decision; admissions committees will appreciate your timeliness and honesty – and they will be able to move on to the next candidate on their list.

Accepting an offer

Congrats, your hard work has paid off! When notifying a school of your acceptance, an email or call to the department will suffice.  You can send a succinct and professional note indicating that you are pleased to accept their offer of admission, and expressing your excitement and enthusiasm about joining their program is always welcomed.

Declining an offer

If you’ve decided a program is not the right fit for you, it’s important you let the school know. Some offers may come with an automated option for declining the offer, but if not, send a short email thanking them for the offer and notifying them of your decision. Academia is a small world, and while you may not be entering that specific program, you want to remembered as a polite and professional student.

Thank those who helped you

Any faculty or references who helped you throughout the process will want to know how it all worked out. Remember to send a thank you note to reference writers! I have noticed that students don’t like to let reference writers know when their applications were unsuccessful, but I think that this is a real missed opportunity. If you don’t get an acceptance, often your reference writers will be able to take a look at your materials and help you see what you could have improved upon. And this might be very helpful if you decide to reapply the following year.

Keep on top of upcoming deadlines

The most stressful part may be done, but there will still be deadlines to keep on top of after being accepted. Keep track of when funds or financial aid forms are due, when it’s time to register for courses, and any campus events you may need to attend.

Keep track of your financial plan

While you may have done the bulk of this when applying, break down what will cost what, and how you will cover it. Make sure to read the fine print about every scholarship, fellowship, assistantship, and stipend you are offered, and educate yourself about loans before signing on the dotted line. Though it all may seem obvious, you do not want any financial surprises.

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