I had applied for a PhD to some colleges in the US, and am waiting for admission results. A professor at a college that I am hoping I am accepted at has responded to my queries of "Is my application likely to be accepted, or should I just accept school B's offer?" with the same answer "your application will be considered in the second round, so you should wait for it. However, I cannot make any promises".

I feel that if the professor thought I had a good chance of getting in, he might have stated so in his replies. "I can't make any promises" seems to be a polite but safe reply, indicating I might be accepted, but thechances do not appear too bright. Should I just accept school B's offer?

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    I would imagine that 'I cannot make any promises' could mean anything from 'I really really want to have you, your application is really strong, and I'm annoyed and confused as to why they haven't accepted you yet, please don't go elsewhere' to 'you're on the list still, but near the bottom and there's not much chance we'll get enough funding, so you only have a chance if lots of people go elsewhere'. In between there's things like 'could someone please just decide how much funding we have so we can make decisions?' and 'grad applications? I forgot about those; could someone fill me in?'
    – Jessica B
    Mar 14 '15 at 8:06

I take "I cannot make any promises" to mean ... I cannot [i.e., I won't] make any promises. Behind that door could be anything.

In other words, it added no information to your decision about whether to respond in advance to School B's offer.

I wouldn't recommend asking the same professor again, but a more informative question for you to have asked would be when (with specific reference to the April 15th deadline that most graduate programs operate under) you would hear back.

Your best bet is to wait.


Should I just accept school B's offer?

Probably not -- at least not yet.

In the U.S., at least in my discipline of mathematics, deadlines everywhere are coordinated to be April 15. If you decide where you would like to accept an offer beforehand, it is good manners to let everyone know of your decision immediately. But in your situation, where you are waiting on an offer you would prefer, it is fine to wait until B's deadline.

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