140130_student

What Conditional Admission Means at a U.S. Graduate School

A delayed TOEFL score or letter of recommendation doesn't have to derail your admissions chances.

140130_student

Receiving conditional admission to a U.S. graduate school can still allow you to obtain your student visa and travel to campus.

By SHARE

Prior to applying to your dream university, you must first have a strong academic history or outstanding work experience. As an international applicant, it is critical to be familiar with the application processes of U.S. graduate schools and pay close attention to all deadlines.

Sometimes, unavoidable circumstances may cause a piece of your application package to be delayed. It could be a language proficiency test score, proof of a particular qualification or a much-anticipated recommendation letter. 

In this situation, many U.S. graduate schools will provide you with conditional admission as a prospective student, meaning you can still get your student visa while you wait to finalize specific criteria required for full admission. This means you can pack your bags and prepare to join the campus. 

[Learn to gauge your U.S. grad school chances.] 

Not fulfilling a TOFEL score requirement is one of the most common reasons schools grant conditional admission to students, but there are other scenarios in which a conditional admission could be considered. 

Assuming you have convincing evidence that you are truly a strong applicant but still have some concerns, simply be upfront and honest with the admission committee from the beginning. Inform them of any serious problems or delays in your application, and if possible, provide suggestions and solutions. Departments are sometimes willing to offer assistance or adjust the rules in favor of applicants. 

[Avoid these myths about U.S. college recommendations.] 

New problems can occur even before the old one is solved, so keep the doors of communication open. Life is complicated, but in some cases, not as much as the graduate school application process. Keep in mind that the admissions committee is looking to choose and invest in the right person. 

In many cases, the conditional status of your offer will not affect your chances at funding opportunities when applying for a teaching or research assistantship. If the money comes from outside the department, you can still apply. 

If you only receive a conditional offer for admission, it does not prohibit you from getting a student visa or a student residence unit. Don't panic; just let the system work. 

[Find the perfect U.S. graduate school for you.] 

When you arrive on campus, perform as any other regularly admitted student. In some cases, you may see a note stating conditional enrollment on your online student status. This is common. 

It is critical that once you meet the admissions requirements that you immediately notify your department secretary or the person in charge to remove the conditional status from your profile. He or she might not update it without a reminder and it is entirely your responsibility to ensure that the information is updated. 

The main idea is to remain positive and always keep the admissions committee in the loop throughout the process. Remember that communication is the key and that you are not alone. 

Yu Zhang, from China, is an assistant professor at Loyola University Maryland. She received her doctorate from the University of Oregon and a master's degree from Shaanxi Normal University.