I recently got rejected from quite a few grad schools. Will this make it harder for the faculty at these schools to take me seriously if I interact with them?

In particular, I'm interested in having a particular professor at the school I will be attending as my advisor. However, until a few month ago, he was a professor at a school I got rejected from. I'm afraid that he will refuse to work with me, knowing that I wasn't qualified for the graduate program he was recently at.

  • 1
    From personal experience: Not if you do we'll at the school where you were admitted. I have a couple of joint papers with my would-have-been advisor at one of the schools that rejected me.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 4:20
  • 2
    It is very unlikely that anyone who reviewed your application came away with a very strong opinion of you. It's almost always, "meh, not so sure about this one...that one's a safer bet". Prove them wrong and they'll forget all about your earlier application. (Actually, most of them probably already have forgotten.)
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 22:18

3 Answers 3


I got hired as a postdoc at a university which had rejected my graduate application.

And not just that. When I started, I realized that they had made the right decision. The background level of the first-years was uniformly and substantially higher than what mine had been when I started. I would have gotten creamed.

You will have the opportunity to prove yourself in your first year. Do a good job, and any weaknesses in your application will be quickly forgotten.

Good luck!


I find it hard for this answer to not be:

It depends on the professor.

However, do not listen to the imposter syndrome. Focus on your accomplishments, not on perceived failures. So you did not get into program A. The reasons you did not get into program A could be anyone of a long list of unknown and unknowable factors that have nothing to do with you. The number of applicants to program A may be so large that you were not excluded because you were not up to snuff but because you were one of a large number of very qualified applicants. Maybe the chair or members of the admissions committee are lazy, negligent, or perhaps just overwhelmed - and thus your application was not even examined. Perhaps your application was lost by the bureaucrats before it ever got from the dean's office to program A. Think no more about program A.

You did get in to program B. Focus on success at program B. The professor you wanted to work with moved from program A to program B, so there must be something better about program B. Consider the fact that you were accepted at program B and that the professor you want to work moved from program A to program B to be indicators of a good chance of success at program B.

The only way that working with this professor will not happen is if you don't pursue it. If you worry yourself out of trying, you guarantee your failure.

Unless that professor was on the admissions committee, there is a fair chance that professor may not have even be aware of your application to the other program. Even if that professor was on the committee, he or she may not even remember you. Depending on the school and/or discipline, there may be hundreds of applicants. Even if that professor knew about your previous application, he or she should be professional enough to ignore it. If not, then maybe you don't want to work for that person.


It could work in your favor. You and the professor have a "common enemy."

The professor left Program A, and certainly for a reason. Maybe Program A was "narrow-minded" about the professor, and about you.

The professor landed at Program B, which had the "good sense" to also select you. The latter probably works more in your favor than the rejection from Program A is likely to hurt.

  • 2
    Or maybe the professor went to Program B because his wife got a job in that city, or because that city has better schools for his special needs child, or because Program B offered him a higher salary that Program A was not able to match. It seems... not very useful to speculate about why the professor switched schools.
    – ff524
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 4:39
  • @ff524: If Program B offered a higher salary, that was their "good sense." The other things you mentioned are possible, of course. But a family would give a higher priority to a professor's career than to that of a "random" wife or husband.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 7:01
  • 2
    Who says the professor's wife isn't also a professor? (And who says that the professor's career necessarily gets priority? Some people might object to the characterization of all other jobs as being "random" professions having lower priority than the academic career.) There's just a whole lot of total speculation going on here...
    – ff524
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 7:02
  • @ff524: I said that a professor would have a better paying job than a "random" spouse. That can be established "statistically" by polling all the professors and their spouses (and there probably are some published statistics). Of course, the spouse may have a higher paying job or receive higher priority among any GIVEN couple. The ;point was I was trying to make was that a professor would probably out earn a "random" spouse. I (a man) would probably "pull up stakes" for a professor wife.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 7:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .