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A few years ago I applied to several engineering graduate schools in the US. I received some offers and interview invitations, but I was not able to attend due to work-related and personal reasons. I am interested in whether it would be wise to reapply to some of the schools that I applied to previously. There are several situations to consider:

  • An application was withdrawn before a decision was reached.
  • An offer was received and rejected. Some of the universities asked me to explain why I rejected their offer, and I provided brief explanations (the process was standardized - I merely needed to fill in some forms).
  • An invitation to an interview was declined.
  • My application was rejected by the admission committee.

I would like to understand whether I could find myself at a disadvantage if I reapply to some of the same programs.

I have seen similar questions here, but the answers did not cover all of my concerns:

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  • Can you clarify a) how long ago you applied to these programs b) what you did instead of attending one of the programs. By "work related" do you mean you have a job in industry and continued working that job instead of starting graduate school?
    – Taw
    Jun 6 '21 at 22:52
  • @Taw a). not too long ago, you can assume 2-3 years ago, b). continued working in the industry. For the last question see b), with the exception that now I am working for a different company (most of my professional experience is related to the area of my interest for the Ph.D. programs).
    – user140322
    Jun 6 '21 at 23:18
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There's a good likelihood that the people reviewing your application are going to be the same. So for the cases where you a) decline the interview or b) rejected the offer, you definitely need to explain why you are reapplying and why you are "serious" about it this time. This should be part of your statement of purpose. As for the application you withdrew, it's not clear what stage of the review process they were in. To be on the safe side, I would say you should do the same thing for that school, making the assumption they had already reviewed your application and were probably going to extend an offer. So those 3 situations should all have similar sections in the SOP addressing why you declined/withdrew.

For the school you were rejected from, you probably want to say something a little different, explaining that you never started graduate school, and want to start now.

It's definitely not uncommon to apply to the same graduate program twice, and I don't think it puts you at a disadvantage. If you were accepted once, you will probably be accepted again, provided you explain why you declined the first time.

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