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I recently received a rejection letter from one of my top colleges for graduate studies. In addition to the standard rejection letter(for Program 1), I got another note from the chair of another program(Program 2) at the same university, suggesting that I opt for that program.

The difference between the two programs is that Program 1(which I was rejected from) usually gives out funding while Program 2(while being identical in all other ways) strictly says no funding. Is this usual in US colleges? I always thought that if you're going to get an admit without funding, you will at-least get an admit letter or is there any other reasoning behind this?

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  • Pardon me. Are the programs undergraduate studies or graduate studies?
    – Nobody
    Mar 18, 2013 at 8:28
  • Graduate Studies.
    – Naresh
    Mar 18, 2013 at 8:59
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    Can you clarify this? Are you asking is it common to be rejected from one program and directed to another or are you asking why didn't I get an admit letter or are you asking is it common for US programs to be non-funded?
    – grauwulf
    Mar 18, 2013 at 13:40
  • Clarification: If they wanted to admit, then they would have admitted to Program 1 itself with no funding. If they wanted to refer to another department then they would not refer me to another program which is identical to the one they referred me to. Why did they then refer me to Program 2?
    – Naresh
    Mar 19, 2013 at 8:03
  • I would greatly appreciate a clarification on the down-vote.
    – Naresh
    Mar 22, 2013 at 10:21

2 Answers 2

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There is no golden rule that I've heard of that since you're not funded that you would be automatically accepted. There are not-for-profit and for-profit institutions, and each may receive public and/or private funding to do x, y, and z.

Sounds to me you were going for a program where you'd receive a stipend, and are being coerced to apply to the program that you would have to pay out-of-pocket (not really clear from the way you wrote it above). In any case, there are some things to consider:

  • How competitive is the program?
  • What about your transcripts or personal profile can you improve?
  • How about applying to more than one school?
  • If you received an offer, should you take it and see if you can receive a stipend in the near future?

You haven't provided much information, yet it will be hard to tell you what to do because there's an absence of the representation of what it is you want to do, and how much you want it. If it's something you've already spent your entire adult life to work on and have the acceptance letter, maybe it's worth considering taking the opportunity. Conversely, if you're right out of school and would benefit from some work experience and improvements to your transcript then it may be worthwhile to take a step back and try again soon.

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The golden rule in getting fund is to demonstrate and ensure that you and your background knowledge and works are good enough to successfully undertake the project or work. Bear in mind that there are always better or worse competitors around. In funded positions, usually there is a tight competition, no matter if it is in US, Asia or Europe. Moreover, the person responsible for final funding decision is always looking at a person he/she knows well (in terms of achievements and commitments) because he is responsible to the funding agency in case of failure. If there is no applicant familiar with, he/she may look after others. Whereas in non-funding positions, the competition is not high and if the applicant has minimum requirements, he will be given the seat. Don't blame anyone except the competition, luck, and your achievement. Try to increase your networking with influential people and raise your visibility by taking part in public talks, organize a workshop (if you have certain knowledge or proficiency), publish a conference paper and so on. I was listening to a radio station few days ago about recruitment, they revealed the result of a survey conducted among 300 worldwide recruiters. The recruiter (work or study) are always giving better chance to volunteers, I suggest to do that as well. By doing so, you will be given very high chance of getting position with good stipend next time. You should be a glorious competitor to shine among others. If not, no luck.

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