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Top 10 Questions from Admitted Grad School Students
From:
Dr. Donald C. Martin -- Graduate Study Expert Dr. Donald C. Martin -- Graduate Study Expert
Chicago , IL
Tuesday, June 30, 2020


Top 10 Questions from Admitted Grad School Students
 

Chicago, IL -- Top 10 Questions Admitted Grad School Students Ask

Question 1:  What if I have positive and/or negative feedback about the application process for the admissions office?

Response:  Now is a great time to provide it.  You have been admitted and should feel free to provide feedback.  Many institutions conduct surveys of their admitted students – you might ask if you will be receiving one.  Whether or not you do, feel free to reach out and share your thoughts.  Ask to speak with someone in person, or have a phone conversation.  Or you could put your thoughts in writing to the director of admissions.

As an admissions dean, it was always extremely helpful for me to hear feedback from admitted students.  After all, they had made it successfully through the application process.  Their insights were coming based on a positive application decision.  Some of the best input I received came from "admits."

 

Question 2:  When will I be able to speak to an academic advisor?

Response:  Hopefully your admission letter will include information about "next steps," i.e., financial aid notification, campus visit programs, orientation, registration and academic advising.  There will also most likely be a website for newly admitted students.  If you do not see anything in your admission letter or on the web, reach out to the admissions office, asking about the advising process and how best to contact/communicate with your advisor.

 

Question 3:  When is an appropriate time for me to reach out to faculty members?

Response:  Reaching out to faculty is something you could probably do at any time.  However, please keep in mind the following:  1) They may be on leave, or taking a sabbatical (which means they are on paid leave).  Hopefully this would be indicated via a voicemail answering message or with an automated email response.  2) When they are in residence, they are extremely busy and the response you get may vary.  If you do not hear from a faculty member at all or you do hear back, but the response is not very informative or welcoming, do not take it personally.  If you do not hear back, do not initiate contact again. If you end up enrolling at the institution, most faculty members post open office hours.  My experience has been that they make a commitment to meet with students during these times.  In-person contact with faculty is always best.  So do not get discouraged if initial email or phone communication is not successful.

 

Question 4:  When will I be notified about financial aid?  Should I use a financial aid offer from one institution to leverage an award, or higher award, at another institution?

Response:  You should receive financial aid information during the application process and most definitely after being admitted.  Some institutions notify you of your financial aid award at the time you are admitted.  Others wait for a period of time before notifying you.  Also, you may hear about scholarship awards before you hear about loans.  Loan information usually has to wait to be communicated until the complete student budget has been prepared.  The time frame for doing this varies greatly.  Once again, check the admitted student website for information on financial aid notification.  If you do not see anything there or, if what you do see is not helpful, contact the admissions office.

As for using one award to leverage another, only you can know if you believe this is right or not.  I do not encourage this.  Ideally, the decision to enroll in graduate school should be made based on many factors, not based solely on financial aid.  Even if you do not receive all that you had expected or hoped for you should keep in mind all of the research you did before and during the application process.  The clear best option for you may not end up offering you the largest financial aid package.  Trying to bargain for the best financial aid deal can backfire.  It can make you look greedy - like you are not really interested in the intellectual, interpersonal and professional benefits of graduate study.  Asking if you can provide any adidtional information regarding your financial situation is appropriate.  But pitting one instutution against another in some sort of bidding war will most always hurt more than help you.

One additional tip:  You can also make an appointment with the financial aid office after matriculating and state your case at that time.  This shows that while you are definitely able to communicate financial need, you are also and primarily committed to your educational and career goals.

 

Question 5:  What if I want to defer my enrollment?

Response:  Many students do this - I was one of them.  I deferred for both my master's and doctoral program. However, there were genuine extenuating circumstances that occurred after my admission that led me to request deferral.  Ideally you should apply for the term in which you plan to enroll.  But if something occurs that causes you to believe holding off is the best option, do not hesitate to ask about this.  Most institutions have deferral policies.  In most cases, you can defer for only one year.  Often you will be asked to pay an additional enrollment deposit, which is non-refundable.  This is their way of making sure you are really serious about joining the student body in the future.  In some rare cases, you cannot defer.  Rather, you are instructed to withdraw and re-apply.  Should this be the policy, while I cannot predict the outcome, I have rarely seen a situation where an admitted student who withdrew and re-applied, clearly explaining the reasons for that course of action, was not offered re-admission.

One final point about deferral:  If you are awarded a scholarship or fellowship, make sure you find out if this award is still available to you if you defer.  Sometimes the award will be waiting for you; other times it will not.

 

Question 6:  What if I have been admitted to two institutions - one has offered me financial aid already, but wants an enrollment deposit before I have heard about my financial aid package from the other institution?  What do I do, especially if I need financial aid and the other institution is my first choice?

Response:  Do not panic.  If you are waiting to hear from one institution, ask for an extension on the other deposit deadline.  All admissions officers are familiar with this dilemma, and most are very willing to offer an extension.  If the extension, however, does not give you enough time before hearing from the other institution, you may be faced with a decision to submit an enrollment deposit, knowing it is non-refundable, and you may forfeit the deposit if you ultimately choose to attend the other institution.

 

Question 7:  What about others affected by my pursuing graduate study? Spouse?  Partner?  Children? Parents? Employer?

Response:  Hopefully, this is not the first time you are asking this question.  By now youshould have been discussing your plans with loved ones who will be most impacted by your decision to pursue graduate study, and they are supporting you.  You need to make plans for your actual transition.  If there are re-location matters, it would be best to start discussing them and making plans accordingly.  Do you and/or a loved one need to seek employment?  Do you need to look for daycare/schooling for children? Do you need to make sure things are in place for aging or ailing parents?  And, of course, if you are leaving your current employer, you need to inform her/him. Some admitted students have already discussed their desire to go to graduate school with their employers.  In some cases, the employer may be helping to pay for tuition, etc., with an understanding that the employee will return after graduation.  In other cases, going to graduate school means completely cutting ties with an employer. Whatever your situation, do your best to ensure that your boss is informed that you are leaving in plenty of time.

In some cases, there may be a less than productive relationship between you and your employer.  Once again, do all you can to leave in the right way.  That may be hard to do but, in the end, it is the best way all around.

 

Question 8:  Should I invest in health insurance provided by the school?

Response:  Most institutions have reasonably good health insurance plans. Obviously, the decision about where to invest in health insurance will depend on the number of options you have.  If you and/or a loved one will both be working, you may be fully covered by one or both employers.  However, if you are not sure how things will play out with job opportunities, you may be wise to invest in your institution's health insurance plan, at least for the first term or first year.  You can always cancel if you find you no longer need it.

 

Question 9:  If I am re-locating, should I consider moving early?

Response:  For some individuals this is the way to go.  Moving early allows you to settle in a bit and get used to your new surroundings and living arrangements before you start classes.  If you are going to be working, you may have a chance to start your job.  If you will be living in campus housing, however, you may not be permitted to move in much before the start of your term of enrollment, as many institutions use breaks in the academic calendar to perform maintenance on their residential facilities.  This is especially true during the summer months.

 

Question 10:  What if I am feeling extremely nervous about my ability to succeed and these feelings intensify as my enrollment date gets closer?

Response:  I would be more concerned if you were not feeling this way.  Keep in mind that you are undergoing a major change in your life and taking on major responsibilities.  You are joining other students who, like yourself, are highly motivated, capable, confident and ready to jump in to their studies.  While this is very exciting, it can be very daunting.  If you are re-locating, do not have unlimited financial resources, were not the best student in college, etc., you will no doubt have second thoughts.  This is quite normal.  Try to focus on the fact that you were admitted, which means you were/are perceived as being able to handle your program of study.  It will be a bit rough at times - this is certain.  However, many have gone before you with varying types of challenges/worries and they did great things.  So will you!

 
News Media Interview Contact
Name: Dr. Donald C. Martin
Group: Grad School Road Map
Dateline: Chicago, IL United States
Direct Phone: 773-549-7639
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