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I applied for a graduate program and I was rejected, but there is evidence suggesting that there was a mistake in reviewing my application. Now the school seems reluctant to reconsider the application. What should I do? Is there any real chance of being reconsidered?

Here are some details about the story:

The reason for rejection was mentioned in my rejection letter, and apparently, it was a very objective and quantifiable admission requirement that they thought I don't meet. But that was simply wrong, and they seem to have misunderstood (or even completely missed) one of my documents. It is a university in a different country, and apparently, they misinterpreted the document, which was issued by my undergrad school, and missed important information. I explained the document to them and they responded with a change in the reason, but the new reason in a way contradicts the previous one and it again seems to be about missing the exact same information related to that document. The new reason is also even more objective and almost purely bureaucratic, so I explained the policy of my undergrad university to them and what the information in the document means, but then I did not hear back from them anymore.

What should I do in this situation? So far I've just been explaining to them how there might have been some confusions, but with their most recent response, it seems to me that most probably, they misunderstood my documents, and might have even completely missed one of them! I'm afraid of pursuing this more seriously and directly because the department is one of my favorite departments and I like to keep the option of going there later in my academic career open.

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    Evaluating an applicant through the application is not a simple logical exercise. Formulating a rejection reason is somewhat easier. Because you can refute the stated rejection reason in no way implies that you would become accepted. – Jon Custer Jun 8 '18 at 13:06
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    @JonCuster Of course. If I thought I'd be accepted, I wouldn't want to ask for reconsideration, but rather an offer. But if they actually noticed the document, they wouldn't formulate a reason that is simply wrong, right? It's a very simple thing, it's about the number of my major credits, that they added it up wrong and I fall below the required number, but I'm in fact far above the required number – nra Jun 8 '18 at 13:16
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    But more applicants could be accepted than are accepted. Even with the ‘correct’ number of whatever, that still does not imply that you then automatically get accepted. – Jon Custer Jun 8 '18 at 15:34
  • @JonCuster I'd suggest that you pay closer attention to my use of words. My intention is to ask for "reconsideration" with considering all documents, not for admission! I think I already said that more than once – nra Jun 9 '18 at 14:06
  • And this is why we don't tell applicants why we reject them. – JeffE Jun 9 '18 at 20:37
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I am assuming you don't have a prospective advisor at this institution working with you on your admission. If you do, they will be in a much better position than us to tell you how to navigate this situation!

The concrete policy would depend on the country or individual institution, but to me it seems unlikely that they would reverse such a decision after the fact. In all probability they have limited places that they have filled already. They might also have rejected you for reasons they don't like to say openly, such as because the other candidates were equally good and didn't require double-checking the paperwork.

To know more about your chances of appeal, you would have to look into how similar cases have been handled by this department in the past, but that might be quite difficult without a connection to someone with historical insider info. While you are contesting the decision, the administration will naturally try to say as little as possible to avoid giving you ammunition.

If re-applying next year is an option for you, I would try to strike a more collaborative tone and ask how you should present your documents so as to avoid confusion in the future. And also try to strike up some contact with a faculty member who might help you. They don't necessarily need to actually do much, but an internal interest will give the administration some incentive to spend time answering your questions.

  • It's a German university and it's written on my rejection letter that I could appeal the decision at the court. Given that they've given me two contradictory explanation about the same issue and I have that in email, I could possibly make the case for a complaint. Would I have any chance for winning the case at the court? – nra Jun 9 '18 at 9:49
  • In my totally unqualified opinion, the contradictory statements themselves are a very weak case. But depending on your situation you might have some right to be accepted if you fulfil all the criteria and score higher than others on some objective scala - it really depends on the institution's processes. – nengel Jun 10 '18 at 11:48
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; the conversation about supervisors at the admission stage has been moved to chat. – Wrzlprmft Jun 10 '18 at 13:51

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