Before saying anything I would like to point out I have no knowledge on the how to apply for graduate schools and this may very well be a stupid question.

I'm getting my Bachelor's degree in Spring 2017 and I plan on applying for graduate programs for art that Fall. I have been looking at different schools and requesting more information and asking the admission offices about the programs I am thinking of applying to.

BUT, a friend of mine told me I definitely shouldn't have done that until I am almost absolutely sure I will be applying to that school and especially not a year ahead. I was just casually requesting more information, and I didn't know they took that so seriously.

So my question is did I somehow hurt my chances of getting into those schools by contacting the admissions very early? Especially when I am interested in more than one program?

I would also like to clarify that I did not contact a faculty member in the program, just the admissions office.

  • 33
    Ah, the time-honored tradition of students giving other students inaccurate advice.
    – user37208
    Mar 11 '16 at 6:40
  • 1
    Your friend has no idea what they are talking about.
    – neuronet
    Mar 11 '16 at 21:00
  • The only ways this could affect your chances are if your questions were so terminally bad (clueless, rude, incoherent, etc) that somebody remembers you (or worse, somebody circulated your question to the entire admissions department to give everybody a good laugh) - or that your questions were so incredibly profound and perceptive that they also remember you. But 99.9% of applicants don't fall into either of those categories.
    – alephzero
    Mar 11 '16 at 21:07

I have been part of the admission process of two two-year long master-level courses in the Management fields. While these are not the same as graduate program in the US (e.g. MSc + PhD program), as far as your question goes, I think there is little difference.

I was specifically involved in responding to emails directed to the admission office and I am confident no damage came to you from asking questions.

The reason being that the person who reads the email and handle this kind of questions is an administrative employee which rarely, if ever, speaks with members of the admission committee directly. Those people are the ones who will make the decision w.r.t. your admission, they are typically busy professor and they never got remotely close to reading an applicant emails, as any menial task is kept away from them.

Emails first pass through the employee, who reads them and replies to all standard questions or questions he has been trained to answer (like 98% of the times).

If answering requires a higher level of responsability/expertise, said employee will ask the course admin/manager (who is typically not a professor, but that might depend on country/institution), yet this is done usually without any reference to the name of the specific applicant (because the information is irrelevant to answer the query).

Furthermore, the reason admission offices put their email out is so that people can ask questions, any questions, so to ensure that the application process is as easy and smooth as possible on both side.


I am 100% sure you did NOT hurt your chances of getting in merely by requesting additional information. Asking for clarification is never a negative. I expect the admissions office would simply send you links to the school's webpages that give the information you requested, and end their email with "Feel free to email us if you have any more questions".

  • 3
    Yeah that's part of what they did and then they went further and directed me to make an appointment with an advisor who would answer my questions and guide me through the application process. I did notify the admissions office that I don't plan on applying until next year so I didn't expect that...
    – user50598
    Mar 11 '16 at 5:31
  • 4
    +1 for "Feel free to email us if you have any more questions"
    – enthu
    Mar 11 '16 at 6:51
  • 1
    @user50598 Their ideal applicant knows what they want and are unlikely to change or leave their course; due to good research. Setting up a meeting ̶w̶i̶l̶l should provide you with the best information.
    – rom016
    Mar 11 '16 at 12:14
  • 1
    And after responding they will likely either then immediately forget about you or put you on a mailing list, not a blacklist. Mar 12 '16 at 3:40

I'd go further to suggest that the more information you have, the better, because part of your application will be to convince them that you'll be an asset to their program as an apprentice of sorts and then possibly later on to partner on research, projects, and writing while you're a grad student. It's essential to make sure your interests and ultimately your personalities match. I'd go so far as to schedule a visit or talk to the faculty you'll be studying under, if you've done your background work.

This is an exciting part of your life, and graduate studies are less about getting a job and more about finding a compatible place to grow and work.

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