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I reached out to a contact listed on a department graduate page at a university two Fridays ago, expressing my interest in the program and asking questions. I was amazed that not only did he reply two days later on Sunday, but his answers were very detailed, and he took the time to provide a lot of information. We communicated three more times that same Sunday and offered very lengthy responses again. His answers seemed to make me think he was very interested in my application and encouraged me to apply.

I emailed the following day again to let him know I was going to apply, to which I submitted my application on 02/28. On 03/01, I emailed him and a department administrator (that he had included in one of his earlier responses should I have questions about the application process) giving them an update on one of my application pieces. There was no question in the email, so I didn't expect a response, and as such, I did not receive one.

On 03/07, I emailed the department administrator with another update on a piece to the application. I asked if he had everything for my application to be reviewed or if they needed official scores for something to begin the review process since they had my unofficial scores. I have not heard back.

Yesterday I emailed the department head and asked the same question about scores, and I have not heard back.

The status of the application is shown as "recommended for assessment", which is the third step in the application process. The fourth step goes to the Graduate Admissions for final review before a decision is made.

My thinking is since I have not heard any responses since I applied on 02/28, they reviewed my application and have lost interest in me. Am I overthinking this, assuming that the change in communication means I won't be accepted into the program, or is there some weight to that?

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    Yes, you are probably overthinking. Admin process takes time. There are others in the pool as well. You will hear when there is something to tell you.
    – Buffy
    Mar 9 at 22:30

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Admissions processes go through several stages between submission and acceptance. I would suggest letting the process take its course and not overthinking responses or nonresponses for inquiries.

For instance, here is a typical admissions process for a graduate school:

  • the department will accept materials, either on a rolling basis or until a specific deadline
  • a departmental committee does an initial review of applications
  • if necessary, the committee sets up further reviews - requests for more materials, interviews, a second level of review - whatever their internal process is
  • tentative selections are approved by higher ups, including a director of graduate studies, a department chair, a vice president or dean of the graduate school, or the relevant department for fellowships or financial aid
  • the school prepares offers and sends them out to people selected first
  • the school then works down a waiting list, sending offers as they become available

These steps will vary from school to school and are US-centric, but the general point is that multiple points of approval are typical. It is common to wait weeks if not a couple of months before hearing more.

Within that context, it's not surprising that the department head hasn't written back. They probably have to handle all the usual departmental business as well as inquiries from 100+ applicants. They're likely too busy to write or they're waiting for the process to proceed before they can answer. Just give them space.

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