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So I'm in a bit of a weird situation right now.

I recently graduated from university with my BS, but was expecting to continue my education at the school as I was accepted into a BS/MS program at the end of my junior year. I put a tremendous amount of time and effort into my work and knocked out a significant portion of my MS during my senior year.

Since I graduated I had to do some transitioning into the MS program, which consisted of proving that I actually had my degree conferred, filling out some additional paper work -- you get the idea. I filled out every form that needed to be completed, met every deadline, and so on (and have tangible proof/records of me doing so).

And yet for some reason, I'm still not in the graduate program (The offer was never rescinded or anything like that). Even though I've done all of the work I've needed to do and was already accepted, I'm simply not considered to be in the program for some reason and can't register for classes, receive financial aid, etc.

I tried desperately to solve this matter with the graduate admissions office via e-mail, phone, and in-person meetings, and yet I've been continually left without help and without answers every single time. Class registration + Financial Aid deadlines are coming up and yet it looks like I'm posed to miss them due to the admission office's neglegence towards this matter (And mind you, this is not some kind of fake/phony/fraudulent school. This is a very well-known, reputable university in the US)

It's honestly gotten to the point where I'm preparing a letter to send to the president of the school, as I've run out of people to go to for help. It's been really frustrating to have done all of this work for so long and then be treated like this, and I don't know what do to.

I'm not really sure what to ask at this point, but absolutely any help/recommendations would be sincerely appreciated. Are there any actions/repurcussions I can possibly take against the school for this? Or are there any other courses of action I should take to help resolve this matter?

Thank you.

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    Is there a friendly faculty member who might be able to help you? Possibly a professor for one of the MS courses you have taken? – Patricia Shanahan Jul 15 '18 at 1:42
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    A professor won't be able to directly solve an admissions problem, but you have a lack-of-response problem. The admissions office may be less likely to ignore a professor. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 15 '18 at 1:58
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    You may also wish to ask the chair of your department, or look for someone specifically in the graduate school administration (who you would be dealing with as soon as you are done with admissions, anyway). In short, anyone who is in an official position to be displeased with the lack of responsiveness of the admissions department is generally well-placed to put you in touch with the right person, have a word with someone they know in a senior position in that department, etc. Just make sure you have all your ducks in a row, paperwork ready at hand, etc, so you don't waste anyone's time. – BrianH Jul 15 '18 at 2:41
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    It probably won't be helpful to contact the university president, who has so many responsibilities that she or he probably won't spend time on a single student. I agree with the other respondents that your department is the place to go. – Greg Martin Jul 15 '18 at 6:30
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    You mentioned that you tried via phone and in-person, but didn't receive answers. What did these things look like then? Did you actually speak to anyone or were you unsuccessful there? If you spoke to someone, what did they say? Have you tried escalating or being more assertive during the conversation? Failing to get results during a conversation might mean you need to change the conversation as much as it might mean you need to try something else entirely, if not more. – NotThatGuy Jul 15 '18 at 19:04
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Thankfully, everything has been completely resolved with this issue and I thought I'd leave an answer here regarding what helped with this particular experience.

As many of the responders mentioned above, contacting members of my department definitely helped. A professor that I know quite well was willing to help and got the attention of the admissions office, and he was able to get their attention and worked with both me and them to get things back on track :)

Thanks again for all of the great suggestions made here. They really helped!

3

It may be a case of (1) you not understanding who's responsible for what, (2) someone neglecting their responsibility, or (3) some combination of these. Since you can't directly solve (2), you'll have to work on (1) by figuring out who's responsible for each issue and who can solve it.

It will help to more precisely identify the problem. You said you're "simply not considered to be in the program for some reason and can't register for classes, receive financial aid, etc" This will be easier to resolve if you specify who gave you this information and when, and where they get their information from. If you indeed followed all the correct procedures after your admission, you can insist that their information saying you're not in the program is inaccurate and that they help you get it fixed.

You've been assuming the admissions office has to solve the issue, but it's not clear why you assume this. The issue might be caused by a registrar's office, a dean's office, a department office, a faculty member, etc. If you're at risk of missing a deadline, talk to the office responsible for that deadline. Keep a log of who you talked to (name and position), so they won't send you back to someone you alread asked. If they tell you to contact someone who's already ignoring your contact, explain your prior contact and insist that they help you contact the person or someone else who can help. Keep talking to offices until you find somebody who agrees to solve the issue.

  • I would definitely agree with (1), though currently I do know which people can and should be helping me right now, and are simply not doing so :( – beepboop Jul 16 '18 at 14:58
  • Also, I know that I'm not in the program because of my current status in their online system + the financial aid office telling me that they're unable to disburse aid due to said status (I'm listed as "graduated" instead of actually being in the MS program). And as for the final question of who should be solving or helping with the issue, I've been explicitly told by everyone I've talked to about the matter that the head of the graduate admissions office is the only one who can help me, and that person is out of the office and not responding to e-mails for some unknown reason :( – beepboop Jul 16 '18 at 15:05
  • Don't accept being told to do what you've already done. (Trying to contact a person who isn't responding.) Insist that everyone you talk to help you contact someone who can help. – krubo Jul 16 '18 at 21:21
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There should be faculty members in the department you are to be enrolled in who are responsible for graduate student admissions and advising. These people should be able to tell you what's going on with respect to your case because, unlike undergraduate admissions, graduate admissions decisions in the US are made with the consultation of faculty members and not simply by a "central" graduate admissions office, which usually just acts as a clearinghouse for the applications.

  • Thanks for the response! I contacted a professor in the department who I know very well regarding this matter and am hoping for the best! :D – beepboop Jul 15 '18 at 7:02
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    Don’t just contact that person if this is time-sensitive. If you need a quick response, consult the graduate officers directly—or an administrative assistant who can help you. – aeismail Jul 15 '18 at 8:48
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    "graduate admissions decisions in the US are made by the department" Actually it's different in each university. So maybe or maybe not. – Anonymous Physicist Jul 15 '18 at 8:51
  • @AnonymousPhysicist OK, I’ve modified the department bit but however it’s done at a particular institution, faculty input is always involved. – aeismail Jul 15 '18 at 8:56
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I agree that the department should be your first point of contact. Somebody within the department is responsible for the graduate program and should be able to help.

If that fails, many US universities have an ombudsman/ombuds office intended to help resolve difficult problems. While they can't overrule the admissions office or force them to do anything, they generally exist to help listen to your problems and assist in resolving issues informally. They may be able to suggest the best approach to getting this addressed or get the attention of the relevant office in a way that you cannot.

  • Contacting an ombudsman and getting a reply typically takes a rather long time (although I've never done this at a US university), and seems to be geared towards after-the-fact investigation of issues. – einpoklum Jul 16 '18 at 8:38
  • @einpoklum It might make sense to try to make an appointment with the ombudsman and explain the problem and the upcoming deadlines, though I have no idea whether that's an available service at the OP's university. The worst case is that they're no more help than anybody else. – Zach Lipton Jul 16 '18 at 8:50

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