Tuesday, March 31, 2009

undergrads and internships: waiting, accepting, and thanking

The undergrad for whom I wrote 11 letters of recommendation to summer research programs came by my office today to tell me where she's spending the summer. She got rejected/waitlisted at 7 places, hasn't heard from 3, and accepted to 1. She decided to accept the invitation from the one place where she was accepted. I think this is a wise decision even though she hasn't heard from 3 of the places.

I had to make a similar decision as an undergrad when I applied for REU programs because the date by which I had to decline or accept my only offer was before I'd heard from several other places. I'm glad I went with the offer even though it was my last choice program because I'm 99% sure I would not have been accepted elsewhere.

FemaleScienceProfessor recently had a post about student responses (or lack thereof) to acceptance letters to undergraduate summer research programs. I fear that as an undergraduate I may not have responded to the offer I received while I was waiting to hear back from other other programs. I suppose that in my head, telling them that I was waiting to hear back from other places implied that their program was not my first choice (true, but not something I necessarily wanted them to know). Now that I am older and wiser, I see that FSP's advice is absolutely the right: say simply that you aren't sure yet but will respond by the deadline. I wish someone had told me that when I was in college. Listen up you undergraduate readers. I know from this survey that there are at least a few of you reading.

My student did just like FSP said and told me about the outcome of my letters her applications. I am thrilled that my student took the time to write me a letter (by hand! though email would've been fine) to tell me the status of her applications. She also brought me sweets, which she said were the best way to thank someone according to her cultural traditions. I'm excited for her and fully expect that she'll do well this summer.


David Steen said...

Here's to common courtesy.

Eugenie said...

I am envious of the undergrad. (Rejected from 5, waiting to hear back from 3, waitlisted at 1...its been a week and a half of silence) Last year, I got my internship offer before I heard back from 2 schools, and I jumped at the chance. When I finally knew what I was doing, I wrote out cards for my letter writers. Dr. Z has the card still tacked up in his office, which is kinda strange. Boy do I wish I knew what I would be doing....! Grr

Paulina said...

I'm glad you accepted that REU as well :)