Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm Sorry Does Not Quite Cover It

No one is an exception to human error. One particular human error caused devastation to about 200 Early Decision II applicants as they were congratulated on being accepted into the University and just hours later, that acceptance turned into rejection. Because ED is binding, once accepted, students must withdraw their applications from other schools. Luckily, the mistake was corrected within hours so students did not withdraw from their backup choices. Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions Kathy Napper offered her apologies Wednesday.

"A very small number of Early Decision 2 applicants received the email in error. We realized the computer glitch soon after it was sent and have already sent an apology email to those students."

The reason for the emails was the delay of acceptance packages because of the snow. However, as a student who had a younger sibling go through the GW application process this year, I am curious about the necessity for the second email that caused this confusion. GW notifies students a week beforehand of the date when their acceptance will be shown online and they receive an acceptance package about a week after that. But, there was never a second follow-up email. Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Services Robert Chernak commented:

"In the normal procedure, after the early decision is made we send an e-mail out and then we follow up with an official package of acceptance. In this situation, the snow really slowed up the delivery of the acceptance packets...So Kathy [Napper] felt that it would be a good idea to send an e-mail to those people who were accepted, that was the theory, for Early Decision II. As those instructions went down the chain of command in the admissions office to the operational level, the individual who sent out the e-mail... touched the wrong button on the list."

The GW Hatchet was first to report the story but it was soon picked up by the local news in addition to national. To cut GW some slack, it is not the first university to make this mistake. Last year UCSD sent acceptance letters to all 46,377 applicants including the 29,000 who were rejected. GW is lucky not to have affected more than 200, but an apology letter might not be enough for the accepted rejections.

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