Admission Decisions – Piles of Files

The most common question we are getting on the phone and via email these days is, “When will I find out about my admission decision?” In a perfect world I could tell you all the exact date and time, and I could also guarantee that every decision would be published on the same day. However, we live in the real world and not the perfect world.

The real admission world, just like the real policy world, can be a bit tricky. With numerous people reading files and some subcommittees meeting to discuss certain applications in more detail it is a balancing act.

When applications are confirmed as complete they are assigned to readers and begin the review journey.  Readers belong to three general groups: faculty, students, and administrators.  Each group brings their own viewpoint to the table so there is nice balance.

After the readers have filled out their review sheets and discussed their feelings about each candidate with other readers the files are divided into three major groups. Let me elaborate on the process by describing the following picture –

Pile #1 is representative of applications where there is unanimous agreement among Committee members. I would say that about 60-65% of applications fall into this group.

Pile #2 represents those where the reviewers of the file did not entirely agree and they have asked for additional review by a Senior Member of the Admissions Committee prior to making a final decision. Approximately 20-25% of applications fall into this category.

Pile #3 represents those who the readers believe should be considered for first year fellowship awards – approximately 15-20%. These files take longer to process because they have to go through additional rounds of meetings by the Fellowship Committee.

Reviewing applications is not an exact science and decisions may not go out in the simple 1-2-3 order described above, but this is generally how the process works. Rather than make the majority of applicants wait until the Committee has reviewed all of the files, we will start to send out decisions when the majority of decisions have been made.

Our goal is to start sending decisions in the first or second week of March.  We will inform you of when your decision is ready to view by sending you an email telling you to log in to the application site to view your decision letter.  I will also post an entry to this blog when the first round of decisions have been sent.

Admitted applicants will receive a paper copy of the same letter posted on the site a number of weeks later. Applicants who are not admitted will only see the letter on the application Web site; we do not send a paper copy of letters to those who are not admitted.

I hope this provides a bit of insight into the process and I will continue to elaborate on the process in the coming weeks.