It’s not me, it’s you: the problem with Vassar’s accidental acceptance

By Brianna Wellen

Rejection is never easy. Whether it is rejection from a job, a significant other or a school, it’s part of human nature and ambition to desire being accepted. But what’s worse than rejection? Being accidentally accepted.

Such was the case with 76 applicants to Vassar College Jan. 27. Students were able to check an online portal to see if they were admitted to the school through early acceptance. The letter was in fact a “test letter” the school sent out, and they had to regrettably inform the thrilled students that, no, they didn’t make it in and, yes, their dreams would be crushed.

Though the comparison may be trite, the situation is reminiscent of witnessing The Bachelor—of the hit ABC show, “The Bachelor”—call out the wrong girl’s name when handing out roses; it wasn’t meant for her. The difference is she still got to stay in the house for another week while all the students received in consolation was reimbursement of the $65 application fee.

While I certainly don’t condone taking cues from reality shows, allowing the students who were intended to be rejected the opportunity to register anyway may not have been the worst idea. I would assume that most applicants to Vassar for early decision are intelligent and motivated and just might prove the admissions board wrong.

Either that, or the natural selection process should weed out those who couldn’t handle the academics anyway.

With 2,400 students currently in attendance, the rejected few would only represent 3 percent of the student body, not even enough to affect the standing of the college as a whole. Allowing those who weren’t accepted to re-apply as a courtesy would give Vassar a much more positive public image.

As a prestigious institution in the realm of higher education, Vassar should have a better system so the possibility of accidentally admitting anyone doesn’t exist. Despite the emotional trauma the error caused rejected students, it makes the college look unorganized and a little heartless. While I realize there’s not much more the college felt it could do once the mistake was made, having a system in place to prevent it in the first place would have saved a lot of heartache.

While Vassar is currently bearing the burden of this issue, it’s all too common in the world of higher education. Northwestern, New York, and George Washington universities and the University of California-San Diego have encountered similar snafus in the past, with San Diego accidentally sending acceptance letters to all applicants, including the 28,000 who were rejected.

There is obviously a flaw in the system that affects institutions—and more importantly students—nationwide that needs to be corrected.

Unless accidental acceptance is solved, others in the future may be spending their days as recent Vassar and Bachelor rejects do—eating ice cream in their pajamas, emotionally distraught, hoping something better comes along.