Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
4 posts • Page 1 of 1
This just happened to me as well at one of my safety schools. I assumed they were gauging my interest in their program.
Usually it means they are willing to admit you. It happened with a girl here. She was asked the same by Waterloo and aftter she told them about her current offers, she was admitted.
They are probably asking this to try and gauge how likely you would be to accept their offer if they made one to you. For example, if the school that you were reaching out to is "lower tier" (low ranked on US News, not an AMS group I or II school, etc.) and you tell them that you already received an offer from a place like Princeton or Harvard, then they know that you are almost certainly not going to accept any offer that they make to you. Furthermore, even if the program is not "lower tier", some very high ranking programs care a lot about a certain ratio. The ratio of:
(how many students that they make offers to actually accept the offers and enroll in school X) / (how many offers school X makes)
In other words, some departments are very protective of having a high percentage of the students that they accept actually enroll in their program. One can imagine this is because a higher percentage indicates on some level that more students would prefer school X to all of the other schools they got into. It contributes to the prestige of the program in some people's opinions. This importance that is placed on the ratio is not present in all high ranking schools and it's not ubiquitous across all fields, however it has been known to occur. So if the school you're communicating with is an exceptionally good program and you've been accepted to other top schools, maybe don't mention those other acceptances.
One last thing, departments don't like wasting their own time by making offers to people that are extremely unlikely to accept. If you do decide to tell the program that you reached out to what the other offers you have received are, I would be very careful about how you word it. Make it clear that if this program makes you an offer, you will give it at least some level of serious consideration. A similar question shows up on a lot of applications where programs ask what other schools you are applying to. The general consensus on these questions is to leave the blank as many of them are not required questions and there are known potential negatives but very very few potential positives of answering those questions. I believe the same logic applies here. I'm not sure of any positives that telling this program of your other offers could have, but as I've laid out here, there are definitely some risks depending on what the other offers you've received are and what kind of school you are communicating with right now. I suppose one worry might be that if you have not received any other offers elsewhere, the program that you are communicating with might interpret that to mean that you are not a competitive candidate at other schools and it could leave a bad taste in their mouth regarding your acceptance. However, thinking that just because a candidate didn't get in elsewhere suddenly makes them no longer competitive for one's own program is a flawed way of thinking and would be kind of ridiculous for that to be the interpretation from the department.
Conclusion: If the school you are reaching out to is a top school (Princeton, Harvard, etc.) then probably don't mention if you have been accepted to other top programs as that school may be protective of their acceptance ratio. On the other hand, If the program is lower ranking/mid-tier, then feel free to mention other offers so long as the offers you mention aren't to the highest ranked schools. And finally, if you have received numerous offers from other programs, don't mention more than ~5 or so as the more places you have received offers from, the less likely you will be to accept an offer from this school and one of the biggest thing programs like to avoid is making offers to students that they know/are very likely to turn down the offer from them.
Hope this helps