During PhD admissions, our department assigns each admitted PhD student both a faculty and grad student contact, and we make every effort to express our excitement and enthusiasm about the student joining our program; often the faculty contact is a prospective advisor. Usually there are some nice conversations, which provide a nice prelude to the on-campus visit.
In one or two cases, I've had a student simply stop responding to email. In this instance, a student I admitted who was initially glad to talk to me quickly cut off contact with both me and the grad student contact (even before the visit). I am trying to understand if this is a bad sign, or if I'm just reading too much into it. It's been a long time since I was a PhD student, and I suppose there are a lot of reasons for this behavior. Still, during my own PhD visits I was sure to be very polite and timely with everyone who contacted me.
Question for current prospective PhD students: Why would you give a faculty member the cold shoulder, rather than just replying politely and briefly to their email?
I can come up with lots of hypotheses (busy with classes, overwhelmed with contacts from faculty, or simply not interested in the program), but all I can do is guess. I want to hear from the latest generation of students: what makes these interactions with prospective advisors tough?