So long story short a professor at a school I applied to got in touch a few days ago saying he was "impressed with my qualifications" and asked if I decided where to go for my PhD. What would this mean exactly? My assumption is that I was on the waitlist or "leftover list" and he got in touch. I replied saying that I haven't decided yet and I'd love to attend the school he's at (I didn't really receive any offers this round) and that if he wants I'd be down to discuss this further with him.

I think there's only really one reason why a professor would contact an applicant in that manner, but I'm now wondering if I may have made too many assumptions on my part. Do you guys think my interpretation was correct, or maybe I jumped to a conclusion too fast?

  • Perhaps they want to know whom to wait for. Apr 25, 2021 at 1:25
  • Can we assume POI means person of interest? Apr 25, 2021 at 4:27
  • @TerryLoring Yes, that would be correct.
    – Sean
    Apr 25, 2021 at 4:44
  • Also remember procedures and deadlines vary by country and university.
    – Mister Mak
    Apr 25, 2021 at 16:01
  • Many U.S. universities have an agreement not to "steal" each other's graduate students after April 15. So if you had already accepted an offer from University A and now University B wanted to make an offer, they would have to ask University A for permission. It's possible that the professor who called you just wanted to know whom, if anyone, he needs to ask for permission to make an offer to you. Apr 25, 2021 at 20:09

2 Answers 2


Seems to me like you did the right thing. They may really have been impressed by your qualification; or they just wanted to gauge your interest in remaining on the waitlist, to which you replied "yes".

There's little else we can guess the person might have wanted to ask. You didn't burn any bridges and expressed interest. There's little else anyone could have done in your place.


There can be many reasons.

One reason could be that a professor didn't have funding available by the deadline. Now that they have funding, they are scrambling to find a student.

A second reason could be that they were counting on somebody else to accept the position, but that other person did not commit.

In end end, if you want the position, take it. Don't worry too much about why you were given the chance.

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