The University at Buffalo (UB) sent over 5,000 acceptance letters to applicants who have not, in fact, been accepted yet, momentarily dashing the hopes of high school students all over New York, the New York Daily News is reporting.
The culprit, as always, was a computer error, UB vice provost for enrollment management Lee H. Melvin explains. It seems that someone in UB’s admissions department mixed up lists of email recipients, and sent the acceptance letters to applicants whose applications hadn’t been reviewed.
“The University at Buffalo deeply regrets an error that occurred when an email intended to encourage you to fill out your [financial aid] form mistakenly stated we had completed the review of your application materials. In fact, we are still reviewing your application for admission and haven’t made a final decision on your acceptance to the university.”
One of the 5,109 UB applicants to get an accidental acceptance letter was high school senior Diamond Williams. She tells the Buffalo News that UB was her first choice of colleges, so she was naturally thrilled when she saw the words “Congratulations on your acceptance to the University at Buffalo!” when she opened her email.
“I was ecstatic. I told my mom. I told my adviser. I told my sister.”
Her joy was short-lived, however. A few hours later, she got the dreaded follow-up email telling her her acceptance letter was a mistake.
Diamond’s mom, Margaret Hamilton, was not amused.
“She was upset. She was really upset. She went to bed early. That’s when you go into mom mode and say, ‘You did what to my child?’ To say, ‘Oh, it’s a mistake,’ that’s like winning the lottery, then getting a letter saying, ‘Wrong ticket.’ “
UB’s admissions office sent an email to the prospective students apologizing for the error, but to disappointed students and parents, it’s of little comfort.
“The University at Buffalo sincerely regrets this error, as well as any stress it may have caused students and families who received the letters. Within three to four hours following the discovery of this error, the university sent a letter of explanation, offering its sincerest apologies to those who were affected. The university’s Office of Enrollment Management has taken immediate steps to ensure that errors of this kind will not occur in the future. We know that this can be a stressful time for prospective students and their families. The University at Buffalo deeply regrets this unfortunate error in communication.”
The mistake doesn’t necessarily mean that Ms. Williams and her peers who got the acceptance letters have been rejected; UB hasn’t yet reviewed their applications, and all applicants will know by Friday, April 22, whether or not they’ve been accepted — for real this time — to the University at Buffalo.
UB is not the first college to mistakenly send out acceptance letters. In fact, it seems to have happened with alarming frequency lately.
In 2009, the University of California, San Diego, mistakenly sent 28,000 acceptance letters to students whose applications had actually been rejected. Similarly, in 2013, Fordham University made the same mistake UB did, and sent 2,500 applicants acceptance letters, even though their applications hadn’t been fully reviewed. And in 2015, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh accidentally sent 800 acceptance letters to applicants to its prestigious Master’s program in computer science — even though those applicants hadn’t actually been accepted.
The University at Buffalo (UB) has about 30,000 students. They’ve received about 27,000 applicants for admission this year, and they expect to approve about 5,000 of them, both transfer students and incoming freshmen.
[Image via Shutterstock/oliveromg]