Hopkins admissions error rattles college applicants


For thousands of seniors across the nation, December has the potential to bear one of the best days of the year. And no, it’s not Christmas. This day falls about two weeks before, when a long awaited message arrives by email, online or even post: early college decisions.

An Early Decision acceptance can bring one of the happiest holidays of all, but for many, the decision might not be so merry.

But that’s inevitable, right? Some get good news, some bad, and no matter what you just have to roll with the punches. After all, it’s just one decision.

Unless, of course, it’s two.

On December 14, Johns Hopkins University accidently released congratulatory emails to hundreds of students who had been rejected just a few days before, according the Washington Post. The release caused widespread confusion and resurfaced disappointment among rejected applicants.

But Hopkins was not the first to make a mistake like this. The Washington Post article discussed similar errors that have occurred at Fordham University, Vassar College, and MIT.

Hopkins apologized profusely to recipients of the mistake, but many expressed that one apology wasn’t enough.

Applying to college, especially early decision, is an incredibly stressful, nerve-wrecking and risky process peppered with many late, coffee-fueled nights, tearful breakdowns and fluctuating emotions. To me, the idea that a university can make and get away with such a massive mishap is something from my nightmares.

But more than that, it’s completely paradoxical to the standards of perfection to which a university holds prospective students.

Hopkins disclaimed the incident  “human error.” This would be understandable enough, were the college process not profoundly un-human.

Think about it. How many horror stories have you heard about a student leaving the wrong college’s name in an essay, sending the wrong recommendation to a school or hitting the final click on the common app before realizing they left a glaring spelling error in its midst. The thought alone is enough to send any senior scrambling to view their last essay revision.

The thing is, those all sound like pretty human errors to me. And yet they’re met with no mercy, no do-overs. An apology certainly won’t cut it. You just should’ve been less careless, and stress is definitely no excuse. I mean, you’re about to go to college, you’re practically an adult, and adults would never make such mistakes.

Unless of course they’re an admissions officer.

If admissions offices could do one thing to ease the pain of applying to college, they could stop advocating the false persona of unachievable perfection that rests in a bubble over the college process.

Yes, college admission systems make mistakes. But so do students. And finally equalizing that distinction could perhaps alleviate the impact of the inevitable errors we both will make.