Do you remember the day you received your first college acceptance letter? You feel lighter somehow, like you were finally able to put down a backpack full of 1,000-page textbooks. Your nerves calm down because you now know that no matter what else happens, there is a school that wants you to become a part of its family. It really is a magical feeling.
Now imagine if you found out a few hours later that you were actually rejected and sent an acceptance letter by mistake. Last Friday, 76 high school seniors who had applied early-decision to Vassar College experienced this heartache. These Vassar applicants were mistakenly told the school had admitted them, an error the school quickly corrected but not before emotional damage was done.
Vassar spokesman Jeff Kosmacher told The New York Times that a “test letter” meant to be a placeholder for the real admission decisions was inadvertently put online long enough for 122 students to see them, only 46 of whom were actually accepted to the school. Vassar emailed the students who saw the test letter apologizing for the gaffe and blaming it on a “system error.”
The worst part about all this: the Vassar decisions were binding, which means some students, thinking they didn’t need to worry about getting into college anymore, might have withdrawn their applications from other schools. It’s no wonder the parents of one prospective student in Connecticut threatened to take legal action against the school.
Vassar can now join the ranks of other schools to crush the hopes and dreams of some of its applicants, including the University of Delaware, UC San Diego, and UNC Chapel Hill. This is the type of negative publicity that can make a potential applicant hesitate before applying to a university that might (mistakenly or not) play mind games with him/her.
If nothing else, no one is ever going to take Vassar seriously as a school for computer science again after this embarrassing episode.
“I want to major in computer science,” said Kareen Troussard, a Vassar applicant in Paris. “And Vassar doesn’t even know how to use a computer on the biggest day of our lives.”
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