University of California, Los Angeles became the latest school to send out admission letters in error. Nearly nine hundred students received an acceptance email from the school's financial aid office that congratulated them on gaining a place on the highly-competitive campus. The message was, at best, premature: in reality, the students were wait-listed.
The error occurred when updated notices of provisional financial aid were sent Saturday and Sunday to thousands of admitted students as well as to students on the waiting list for possible freshman admission in the fall, [campus spokesman Ricardo] Vazquez said. Unfortunately, the note to the students on the waiting list also mistakenly included the line: "Once again congratulations on your admission to UCLA, we hope that this information will assist you in making your decision to join the Bruin Family in the fall."
Although the UCLA administrators have apologized for the mistake, there has been no announcement about how the school plans to deal with the error. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the email contained a link to a highly-detailed financial award information which clearly showed the students' wait-listed status. Vazquez attributed the mistake to human error and promised a thorough investigation and an implementation of safeguards to prevent a recurrence.
"We realize this is a particularly anxious and stressful time for students and their families as they try to make decisions about college admissions. We sincerely apologize for this mistake that may have led some of them to think they were admitted when they remain on the waiting lists," said Vazquez.
One of the factors that could have contributed to the emails is the University's relative inexperience with managing student wait lists. This is the first year that UCLA has created one, and 2900 students have already joined, hoping to be accepted into the school after the May 1st deadline for letters of intent from those offered admission.
Waitlists are an enrollment tool, Vazquez said. They help to ensure that the university does not over-enroll, as it did last year, and in tight financial times, they help to make sure that the university fills every spot in the event that fewer students enroll than anticipated.
Although the number of students affected isn't insignificant, the scale of the error pales next to the one committed by the UCLA's sister school, UC San Diego which sent out acceptance letters to 28,000 students in 2009, who were actually rejected by the college's admission office. A year later, students who remained on UC Santa Barbara wait list received a letter congratulating them their acceptance. Those turned out to have been sent in error as well.