I just got to know that I've been waitlisted for a PhD program at the Central European University (CEU)
The weird thing is, when I contacted my interviewers and the school's admission staff to thank them for their support throughout the application process, all three of them replied by saying: congratulations on being waitlisted. One interviewer, who indeed proofread my research proposal before I submitted, even went as far as saying that getting waitlisted signals that I'm ready for doctoral studies.
I've been thinking that, isn't it a bit weird to congratulate me on being put on the waiting list? Does it mean I have a good chance of moving up the list soon?
Just two quick notes:
1) I was also waitlisted for CEU for my MA and eventually got a full tuition scholarship after waiting for a month.
2) I've checked the admission statistics, in the last 5 years only 65-70% of those who got an offer accepted.
I don't think the congratulations at this stage are weird. Being ranked highly and put on the waiting list is an achievement in itself - it means you are in the bracket with the top candidates basically. I wouldn't read into it any more than that. Fingers are crossed for you!
Ps. You *could* go as far as to ask what number you are in the list... If you are high up in the list then your chances are greater! Based on the acceptance stats and the fact that you are on the waiting list, I'd say you have a good chance but it isn't certain of course, so plan B-ing is warranted. You can get a better idea if you know where you are on the list, but it's probably best to just be patient!
If they are congratulating you, it probably means it is a good result. I am assuming that the several professors that congratulated you know more about the system than we do and understand the significance of your relative position.
As getting a wait list position can be just as good getting it. I know someone who got wait-listed third for a research council fellowship. The round was funding 20 fellowships and after a few days she got a call saying she had received the funding. If it is an especially large funding round it is not uncommon for several people to drop out.
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