paramus

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I seem to have a problem with getting waitlisted because I'm now up to 4/5 of the MSTP interviews I have been to - 5 being a straight rejection from Northwestern. I have one interview left and one school that hasn't sent out decisions yet.

So I have two questions: 1) Does the waitlist mean anything, or is it just where they send everyone who interviewed but doesn't get an offer so they can keep their options open in case all hell breaks loose? 2) How are you supposed to tell whether you have a reasonable chance of making it off of the waitlist if they won't tell you where you're ranked?
 

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1. Schools actually reject people, so being on a waitlist isn't SO bad. Good schools that are not top-notch will draw heavily from their waitlists since the "superstars" tend to go to the UCSF's/Harvard's/Cornell/whatever's. I have heard that some schools go through half their waitlists every year. So don't give up all hope!

2. Schools generally don't tell you where you rank on waitlists. Some schools don't actually have a waitlist; just a pile. They then go theough the pile each time they need to draw from it.

-X

paramus said:
I seem to have a problem with getting waitlisted because I'm now up to 4/5 of the MSTP interviews I have been to - 5 being a straight rejection from Northwestern. I have one interview left and one school that hasn't sent out decisions yet.

So I have two questions: 1) Does the waitlist mean anything, or is it just where they send everyone who interviewed but doesn't get an offer so they can keep their options open in case all hell breaks loose? 2) How are you supposed to tell whether you have a reasonable chance of making it off of the waitlist if they won't tell you where you're ranked?
 

tedrik

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In addition to what xanthines has said, which I agree with, I would suggest that you email the school you want to go to the most and tell them that you want in. Make sure they know that you will go to their school if they take you off their waitlist. This should help you out, especially if you are already near the top of their list. Also, it doesn't hurt to keep in contact with all the other schools that you are waitlisted at as well. Keep sending them updates on upcoming papers etc...

waitlists do move a lot at some schools, so I wouldn't worry too much if I were you. GOOD LUCK!!
 
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paramus

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tedrik said:
In addition to what xanthines has said, which I agree with, I would suggest that you email the school you want to go to the most and tell them that you want in. Make sure they know that you will go to their school if they take you off their waitlist. This should help you out, especially if you are already near the top of their list. Also, it doesn't hurt to keep in contact with all the other schools that you are waitlisted at as well. Keep sending them updates on upcoming papers etc...

waitlists do move a lot at some schools, so I wouldn't worry too much if I were you. GOOD LUCK!!
Yeah, I already used my love letters on the school I haven't heard from yet, which was a strategic mistake because I'm still likely to get waitlisted there at best - too many superstars applying - but at least I meant it. I'm trying to figure out how to beg gracefully at my last interview.
 

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Would it be a bad/distasteful idea to call the admissions secretary and ask where I am on the waitlist? A couple people have suggested this (a fellow lab tech who is applying to med school and a post-doc) with the tone of "duh, why not?" They believe that if I call periodically, say 1x per week this will help confirm the fact that I am very interested.

Furthermore, this is exerpted from her last email: "You may contact me at any time to learn more about your status." Is this an open invitation to ask my position on the list?!

This is my 1st choice, so I'm willing to do anything that will help get me in! What do ya'll think? Thanks a lot.
 
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paramus

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Mimidoc^2 said:
Would it be a bad/distasteful idea to call the admissions secretary and ask where I am on the waitlist? A couple people have suggested this (a fellow lab tech who is applying to med school and a post-doc) with the tone of "duh, why not?" They believe that if I call periodically, say 1x per week this will help confirm the fact that I am very interested.

Furthermore, this is exerpted from her last email: "You may contact me at any time to learn more about your status." Is this an open invitation to ask my position on the list?!

This is my 1st choice, so I'm willing to do anything that will help get me in! What do ya'll think? Thanks a lot.
I don't know that I'd advocate calling every week. It's a good idea to attempt to get your point across, but you can probably do that more effectively with one well-crafted email/fleet of emails to the right people than with a series of phone calls. You wouldn't want the calls to get routine either. Beg as gracefully as possible.

But you'd probably be better off listening to someone else's advice because convincing schools that they must have me is not my forte. I'm up to five MSTP waitlists and no acceptances, which is why I'm not totally opposed to desperation gimmicks like calling every week, except that I think that particular gimmick would annoy me if I were the person receiving the call.

While I'm posting, one of my non-MSTP acceptances is now requesting a grad school application that they apparently need to start the enrollment process. Am I right that doing anything remotely related to enrolling ties you to a school and thus is a no-no for now?
 

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paramus --

am i right in saying that you are in to some MD/PhD programs but are waitlisted at yout 5 MSTP programs? just trying to get the right idea.

on your comment about eh grad application -- it is my understanding that you are not tied to any school to which you make that additional application/start the enrollment process. i know that i have filed a number of "double applications" (both MD and Grad separately) this cycle and those schools which accepted me know that may 15th is still MY deadline to tell them. MSU is one of those schools, Temple, I think, is another, Georgetown is a third, Utah is a fourth. I am holding a few acceptances right now, but I have been honest and open with each school about the fact that I am holding more than one due mainly to family reasons, and they have reacted as if that is the way most canidiates handle this sort of weird period before the deadline.

as for the calling -- i think i agree with whomever said that one fleet of very careful, poignant emails seems better than calling over and over. and in the email its best to include some sort of update on you or what you have done (any paper coming out, projects, etc) so that its sort of a "twofold" thing.

lynnie
 
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paramus

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lynnier79 said:
paramus --

am i right in saying that you are in to some MD/PhD programs but are waitlisted at yout 5 MSTP programs? just trying to get the right idea.

on your comment about eh grad application -- it is my understanding that you are not tied to any school to which you make that additional application/start the enrollment process. i know that i have filed a number of "double applications" (both MD and Grad separately) this cycle and those schools which accepted me know that may 15th is still MY deadline to tell them. MSU is one of those schools, Temple, I think, is another, Georgetown is a third, Utah is a fourth. I am holding a few acceptances right now, but I have been honest and open with each school about the fact that I am holding more than one due mainly to family reasons, and they have reacted as if that is the way most canidiates handle this sort of weird period before the deadline.

as for the calling -- i think i agree with whomever said that one fleet of very careful, poignant emails seems better than calling over and over. and in the email its best to include some sort of update on you or what you have done (any paper coming out, projects, etc) so that its sort of a "twofold" thing.

lynnie

I have two acceptances to smaller MD/PhD programs. The problem is that the research available there is spotty in general and not particularly strong in my areas of interest either. The better of the two schools has also been kind of shady throughout the application process, so I'm not necessarily personally comfortable with them. At this point I would be inclined to take my chances with the MD acceptance (MSTP waitlist) I have at a much better school if nothing else materializes...or just scrap the whole thing and try again in a year or two with a better application strategy and more research experience.

Not that I can really afford it, but I'm adamant about not locking myself into a situation I'm not happy with. I would also feel bad about being the only person in the entering MD class who wasn't glad to be there when other people wanted it more than I did. It's hard for me to get excited about the MD without the PhD to complement it. Unfortunately, I also happen to have a much easier time selling myself as an MD applicant, hence the consistent MSTP waitlisting phenomenon, I suppose.
 
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paramus

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What is considered appropriate content for an update letter? For example, I presume that lab activities, honors, presentations, papers, etc., are fine, but what about things like how school is going and what your plans are if you do not make it off? Also, would it be appropriate to roll a letter of interest into an update? I've used my "I will attend if you take me" letter, but I still want these other schools to know that I like them.
 

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I think you can do all of this, but from what I have gathered from some schools the wait list is ranked and there is no reranking of people so I don't see much benefit for writing update letters except for piece of mind. But don't get me wrong I am going to write some myself today :)


paramus said:
What is considered appropriate content for an update letter? For example, I presume that lab activities, honors, presentations, papers, etc., are fine, but what about things like how school is going and what your plans are if you do not make it off? Also, would it be appropriate to roll a letter of interest into an update? I've used my "I will attend if you take me" letter, but I still want these other schools to know that I like them.
 

Reckoning

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Just an FYI, I was at the Pitt second look weekend and they stated that they would not be going to their waitlist. Sounds like they underestimated their yield this year. Not sure if Pitt is on your list but just to let you know...
 
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paramus

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Reckoning said:
Just an FYI, I was at the Pitt second look weekend and they stated that they would not be going to their waitlist. Sounds like they underestimated their yield this year. Not sure if Pitt is on your list but just to let you know...
Thankfully, it's not...but that's really scary nonetheless. Someone posted earlier that they were taking people out of their MD class a year or two ago. God, just watch that happen at all of my schools too. Given the way things have been going for the past two months...entirely possible.
 

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If in your waitlist letters (emails), or any other sort of communication with the school, you were given a phone number to contact the program director, I would definitely recommend giving at least one phone call, as emails are very easy to look over and forget. Remember that the people in charge of the programs are most likely running their own lab in addition to the admissions stuff, so they are very busy and probably have an inbox full of emails. Also a typed and printed letter could be advantageous, because that is obviously a little more personal, and would very likely end up in your file. Whatever you do (unless you were specifically warned not to contact the school), don't just send one email, sit back and wait, as by expressing your interest and keeping up with it, you will make it look like you're serious about the school. I would tend to go with every other week, but if you're comfortable with every week than go for it, and judge the response you get to adjust from there. Keep in mind that secretary’s do talk to their supervisors, so being courteous could go a long way, but if you can get higher up the chain then definitely try. Even if you hear a program has "filled up", unless you receive a rejection I would still express interest in attending, as something may happen to allow for you to get in. However, I like the idea of knowing what is going on with the schools you are looking at getting into, if for nothing else then to give you a little piece of mind. So either contacting people you've seen that are in the programs, got accepted, applied, or just posting the programs could be to your advantage. I would look at some other threads about this to get ideas of what to include in your letters/emails/calls. Some obvious things are what you’ve been doing, that you would accept in a heart beat, and why you would be such a great addition to their program (how great of a fit you are for them). With your two acceptances I would really take a second look at those schools. You may not think highly of them now, but that could be just because you haven’t looked into them enough, thinking you would not go there. Try not to judge a program based solely on a negative admissions experience, although it may help to keep it in mind because it could be an indicator of future issues. Even if they don’t have something in your area of interest, I would see if they have some amazing potential PI’s in similar areas that would at the very least train you to be a great researcher (which is one of the main points of doing a Ph.D. program). Who knows you may end up in a lab doing something that you love, but never even considered. Since you are on several waitlist I would tend to think your chances are fairly good of getting into one of your “choice schools.” In my opinion, humility is a great attribute, but people have to get beyond that “I’m not one of the superstars” attitude, because if you got an interview it means you did some things right to get you there, so concentrate on those for now. If you can’t make your stats look any better at this point, and even if you can, make sure that you stress how great of a “fit” you are for those programs. Best wishes, and congrats to everyone on getting this far. Try to not let the stress get to you, as this last little bit is nothing compared to what you’ve already accomplished.
 

Reckoning

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Ditto on the above. Great suggestions. I would add that it would help to talk up your particular interest in specific research groups to let them know that you are a good fit for their program. And that you are iterested in them for more than their MSTP status or ranking.

It sounds like you are in good shape, paramus. Best of luck!

And two MD students got into the Pitt MSTP program this year.
 

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paramus said:
So I have two questions: 1) Does the waitlist mean anything, or is it just where they send everyone who interviewed but doesn't get an offer so they can keep their options open in case all hell breaks loose? 2) How are you supposed to tell whether you have a reasonable chance of making it off of the waitlist if they won't tell you where you're ranked?
Trust me, there are plently of schools that don't mind sending out rejection letters. :) I can prove it.

I would suggest talking to the first year class to find out about the waitlist. I know at some schools they will know how many are accepted, how many are on the waitlist and what size class the director wants. At other schools they won't, but they might have an idea what the waitlist situation was like the year before.
 
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paramus

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Trust me, there are plently of schools that don't mind sending out rejection letters. :) I can prove it.

I would suggest talking to the first year class to find out about the waitlist. I know at some schools they will know how many are accepted, how many are on the waitlist and what size class the director wants. At other schools they won't, but they might have an idea what the waitlist situation was like the year before.
Yeah, a few of those came my way toward the end too. That was when I started inching toward the panic button. Of course, when your answer to "Why MD/PhD?" is "Why not?" you can sort of predict the outcome of your interviews at that school. My interviewer wasn't amused.
 

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paramus said:
Of course, when your answer to "Why MD/PhD?" is "Why not?" you can sort of predict the outcome of your interviews at that school. My interviewer wasn't amused.
:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: -That's priceless! This always seems to be the question they take the [/I]most seriously. I wish I had the guts to say that.

...to be a fly on that wall...