After finishing your applications, comes what is probably the most maddening stage: waiting.
Even if you consider yourself cold-blooded, usually unfazed by anything, it's not easy to keep waiting for results. If you are someone who already suffers from anxiety, panic, depression, paranoia, or anything really, be prepared. Because it can be very frustrating.
When you accept an offer for a PhD in the US, you have until April 15th to decide if you accept your offer or not, according to a resolution the schools agreed to follow. But that means that it may also take that long to hear from some of your schools. If you applied in November and a school just inform you about its decision in April, that's almost half an year of waiting. Today is April 5th 2017 and I still haven't heard anything from a school which had December 1st 2016 as deadline, for example. If I hadn't received an offer from another school, I'd have pulled all my hairs out by now.
You are usually informed about their decisions by e-mail. I've read people saying schools will send decisions only during commercial days and hours. But I've received decisions on Sundays, for example. Or late at night. So, we keep checking our e-mails 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, for months and months. Any new e-mail is a glimpse of hope, and then cause of frustration when you notice it is spam from a school, for example.
What kind of decision you may receive from a school?
- You may be rejected. So, you have not been accepted and all hope is gone for this school. Check it out of your list and forget about this school. It will hurt, specially if it's from your dream school. But any rejection hurts, and it's hard to know how you will feel when you get one.
- You may be invited for an interview. Invitations can happen very early or vere late, but most invitations are sent in February or March. It's very bad when you see a lot of people getting interviews, and you only get silence. And it's a great feeeling when you finally get an invitation. Interviews are usually held via Skype, but there are also many cases when a school you will visit the school for the interview.
- You may get an unofficial offer. So, you got accepted! Offers are usually made only after an interview, but there are also rare cases when you are accepted without interview. It may happen that you are informed that you have been accepted, but you don't get it formally yet. There are reasons for that, maybe they don't want to do all the bureaucracy related to an official offer unless they are sure you will accept, or maybe they are waiting for a response about funding.
- You may get an official offer. In this case, you have been officially accepted, with a letter, information about funding, congratulations etc. You may get an offical offer without an unofficial one before that.
- You may get waitlisted. It means you remains in purgatory, and must keep waiting. You are good, but there are other applicants ahead of you. You may get an offer, if other applicants who have received offer do not accept them.
There are you places in the internet to make your home during the process.
One is, again, Urch.com. Every year a PhD Business Administration Sweat thread is created. There, applicants share their experience, their pains, and their glory. There, they cheer each other up, Users who are already in PhD programs show up to provide support and wisdom.
The second one may be a good place and a bad place. Because it will help you to follow when schools start moving, when they send interviews, offers, and rejections. But people say ignorance is bliss. Because you can get even crazier when you see a lot of people getting interviews and offers, and nothing is happening on your side. Even if February is still early to get decisions from schools, a lot of people are already in despair in February because they know other people have been already interviewed and maybe even received offers, and they got zero so far. Anyway, many applicants check The Grad Cafe to follow decisions from schools.