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Many months ago, I had to drop out from a prestigious university.

Lately, the university contacted me and asked me if I were considering enrolling once again, and said that if yes, I should do so before a certain deadline.

Is it common for universities to contact drop outs?

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    "Have I left a good impression or are they interested in my money". Does it matter? You want (and afford) to take the degree or not?
    – Alexandros
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 13:25
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    It depend somewhat on how many months is "many" - most institutions will give you a semester or two to get things sorted without officially dropping you completely from the program and requiring you re-apply.
    – BrianH
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 2:17
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    You should be able to infer quite a bit from who sent the letter. If sent by the head of department in person, then they must care about you and your abilities. If sent by some admin outside of the department, then it's akin to the practice of banks to offer you credit cards whenever your credit has been good, in other words it's essentially computer-generated and the purpose is to get your fees (they know you're good enough since you were once accepted, so they are also saving the cost of interview, very rational practice).
    – PatrickT
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 8:57
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    @PatrickT, The point is that I left in an angry way, and we were in a disagreement, and they made me feel like I was an irresponsible person (I underwent high pressure, and my future was on the line, plus my teammates had other priorities than studying, and team work was crucial). Consequently, the last thing I could expect from them is to give the chance to go back. An academic advisor himself told me "if you drop out, that means you'll never be part of the university again, right?", as think very carefully before you take such a "radical" decision.
    – Half Life
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 20:03
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    @HalfLife, but did this advisor ask you to return? Anyway, think more about whether you want to go back and less about why they want you to go back, no?
    – PatrickT
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 11:28

4 Answers 4

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The answer may depend on why you had to drop out, but many universities simply consider you to still be their student even if your studentship is disrupted by events beyond your control, and will assume you are likely to wish to continue your education there.

You do not say why you had to drop out, but common reasons for somebody to withdraw or fail include: mental health issues, financial crisis, physical illness, death or serious illness of a close family member, visa problems, etc. None of these indicate anything negative about your potential as a student even if they caused you to fail all of your classes. I have known people who dropped out for a wide variety of such reasons, many of whom then returned to finish at the same prestigious institution after their life circumstances had improved.

Many universities thus make it easy for a student who left for such circumstances to return and complete their studies, and that is likely what is going on with your university as well.

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Many students who drop out eventually return, and being away from the university they may be unaware of the deadline. So they may have simply been sending a courtesy message informing such people of when the deadline for re-enrollment is. There probably isn't any deeper meaning than that.

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In theory the classes you took should be good forever, and the program would never change. If this were strictly true, then you could take classes for years, a few at a time and with frequent long breaks and still obtain your degree.

Most schools consider students to be students from admission onwards, and they never take them out of the system.

However, degree programs change, requirements change, and the schools must change their curriculum. While they grandfather in older, possibly out of date classes, and older programs, they have to limit them, and the easiest way is by time.

If you start a bachelor's program you can expect to be able to follow it without issue for 4-6 years without change even if the program changes for newer incoming students. If you change degrees you'll have to adopt a new program.

However, if you drop out of school, the school doesn't think of you as a person who will never return. But if the programs and classes are changing they will remind you, even if you haven't attended for some time, that in order to fit under the old program you'll have to complete it by a certain date.

So this is why they've sent you a letter. You are, in their eyes, still a student, eligible for a degree in a specific program, and they want you to be aware that even though you haven't been in some time, if you had intended to complete your education with the program you started then you will have to do so by a deadline.

Not all schools send out such letters.

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Watch out for phishing; they may not be who they say they are. Don't give the caller/writer any information beyond what you'd give to a stranger on the street, and if you choose to give the issue further thought, verify the offer at the admissions department's public phone number.

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