I applied to 10 schools and have heard formally from 3, 2 rejections, 1 admission. I just received an email from another school (a very good one) saying that they are seriously interested in me, but would like to know if I am still interested in them. While I am very interested in this program, which is in my top 4, since I have not heard from the other 6 schools, I am not ready to make a decision. Does saying yes now mean I am committed to accepting their offer?

  • 24
    Saying that you are still very interested in them does not represent at all that you are committing to them.
    – Behacad
    Feb 6, 2015 at 20:52
  • 8
    Give them an unofficial "yes". Only when their offer of admission becomes official can your answer be official.
    – Dennis
    Feb 7, 2015 at 6:51

3 Answers 3


If they are still "seriously interested" in you, then that is not an offer on their side.

If you are still "seriously interested" in them, then that is not a firm commitment from your side.

Decisions are not binding until the ink is dry.

  • 2
    +1 to this, and unfortunately, some less-than-scrupulous institutions/individuals will actually fail to honor commitments even after the ink has dried! Reputation means a lot.
    – rcd
    Feb 7, 2015 at 8:47

The department in question most likely just wants to make sure you haven't accepted an offer somewhere else - or received an offer you will definitely accept over them; saying that you are still interested is not a commitment from you at all.

Some applicants will wait till the last moment to decline offers from departments, even ones that they know for sure they will not accept (e.g. if they have been accepted by a better department (in their estimation) already). The department is just trying to find out whether you are in that position. (To students in that position, don't do this! Decline offers as soon as you know you won't be accepting, your fellow applicants will thank you!)

In your position I would write an email saying that you are still interested and also indicate that it is among your top choices (as you have said in your question).

  • 2
    Letting schools know will not only make fellow applicants happy, it make the admissions committee members life easier too.
    – StrongBad
    Feb 6, 2015 at 21:04
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    I'm curious how you would word a letter like that. Declining an offer without the "excuse" of accepting one somewhere else. Should you mention the offers you have?
    – Roger Fan
    Feb 6, 2015 at 22:45
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    Here is what I wrote back in the day (I make no claims about this being good): "Thank you so much for offering me admission into your graduate program. I was very impressed by [[University]] [[other details like faculty/students I had talked to, etc.]] and so I had a difficult decision to make regarding which graduate program to choose. After a lot of careful thought, I have decided not to accept your offer. I will mail the response form to you as soon as I can, but I wanted to let you know my decision now, since it may affect applicants on your wait list. [[Thank you so much again, etc.]]".
    – Aru Ray
    Feb 6, 2015 at 22:51
  • 1
    In fact now that I look at it, I cringe a bit, but oh well, it is done now. As a non-native speaker I think I get some latitude from people about wording and style of such things (or perhaps this is merely wishful thinking on my part).
    – Aru Ray
    Feb 6, 2015 at 22:53
  • Sometimes I got a note back asking if I had chosen a different program (usually with the comment that it helps them to know their competition); for me this only happened for the last set of schools, so I did have a specific name to tell them. If it had happened earlier I would have told them the schools (four for me) which I was choosing among at the time.
    – Aru Ray
    Feb 6, 2015 at 23:02

Now that you have an admission offer, it is reasonable to contact all (or at least most) of the other schools you have heard from. Any school that you would not attend, email them and say that you have an offer from X and are no longer interested.

Email any school that you want to attend instead of X and tell them you have an offer at X, but would rather attend their school (give a good reason that is not simply their ranking). Tell them the deadline you need to let school X know by. If one of those schools Y gives you an offer and none of the other ones do, you tell X no and Y yes and there are no issues. If a couple of those schools Y and Z accept you, you tell Z yes and X no. You need to tell Y that since the offer you also got an offer from Z that is too good to pass up. This way they will see you were not wasting their time.

The difficult case are the schools you are not sure about. If only school Y accepts you after you tell them about X, then turning them down for X is not ideal. So while it is not ideal, things happen, and no one will hold it against you for long.

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