When 122 early-decision applicants logged onto Vassar's system to check their application status, they saw the good news: that they were accepted. But 76 were not. A test letter that a college spokesperson called a "system error" was mistakenly posted. Fortunately, even more of the 254 early-decision applicants hadn't seen the letter before the problem was caught.
On the website College Confidential, students posted their frustration:
- "Is it possible to be admitted and then 2 hrs later have admission revoked???"
- "It did the same for me: accepted at 4, reject at 5. I don't understand..."
Vassar sent an email to students to apologize for the error:
Catharine Hill, president of Vassar, also apologized:
"We are terribly sorry about the confusion and disappointment the erroneous information posted online caused the students. Our admissions process is a careful deliberation over several months, so it is so unfortunate to have this communication error happen at the end of that process for some of our early decision candidates."
- The mistake is far too common, with the University of Delaware and other schools making similar errors. How do you think this could happen, and how could it be avoided?
- Assess Vassar's apology letter. If you were a student affected by the mistake, would the email reassure you, or would you find it "lame," as one student said?
- Rewrite the apology email in your own words. How could you improve it?