Is there some kind of academic norm that says "when I reject an applicant, I don't want anything to do with him?"

edit: If a professor is reading this, personal experience from himself and colleagues will be really helpful!


It very much depends on why you were rejected.

For example, a year ago, it's possible the professor couldn't fund a student. Or there were limited spots, and someone else urgently needed a student. Or they were just getting a project going, and didn't want to add another person into their lab.

All of those are circumstances where it might be possible to revisit your application.

If you don't know the reason, you might still try. After all, if you don't apply functionally the answer is "No".


I recently had a similar experience, and after (me and my advisor) consulting with people at the graduate schools my answer is, no, there's no such norm.

Basically, some of the faculty said they couldn't recruit me not because my application isn't strong but rather because they simply aren't recruting any graduate students this year. Others said my application was great but somehow it just didn't make the cut this year.

So, it might not be a bad idea to consult those people and ask them what happened to your application. Maybe it was simply because someone couldn't recruit one extra student. In that case, you're going to have a very good chance, aren't you? Odds that a research group doesn't recruit students in two consecutive years is probably quite low.

After all, I assume you'll be spending the rest of this year doing stuff and potentially strengthening your application, aren't you? In any case, the case for you would be stronger by then. Even if your application is simply "not good enough" this time, it wouldn't be a bad choice to try again.

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