For 2500 high school seniors Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 was an early Friday the 13th and April fool's day all rolled into one when they found the acceptance e-mails they received from Fordham University in New York were all by mistake, and they had not really been accepted to the university. These early admission applicants had received a congratulatory email that stated in bold lettering "Congratulations once again on your admission to Fordham University" by mistake and within hours were disappointed to find out that they were not actually accepted by the university.
The actual mistaken email acceptances were actually sent by the third party operated Student Aid Services, a California based company that works as financial aid and "undergraduate admission consultants." The company stated it was a "human error" not related to their computer system and will not end up again disappointing more seniors at the other universities they work with.
Student Aid Services Spokeswoman Mary Fallon explained; "Oversight errors don't just come about, as you know. It occurred when data was transferred from a staging environment to our development environment. And it was member of our database services team made the error." The contractor also works with 700 other universities.
The email was supposed to be sent after Fordham's admission office notified those that were actually accepted to the early admissions, and meant to notify the newly admitted about the company's services available at the university.
VP for Enrollment at Fordham Peter Stace explained what transpired; "The email started with 'congratulations on your admittance to Fordham University,' and followed with a message to take advantage of FAFSA. Many of [the 2,500 high school students] mistakenly saw this as an acceptance."
Fallon also explained to WCBS 880 how the mistake was made; "In the transfer, we mistakenly sent emails on financial aid to approximately 2,500 Fordham University applicants which inferred they had been accepted for early admission, when, in fact, their status was still unresolved. We're working in very close collaboration with Fordham University to minimize any anguish the error caused to prospective students."
Within hours the university emailed telling the applicants that the email sent to them was not really an acceptance letter and "their status was still unresolved," and they would find out the university's decision on Thursday, Dec. 12 on the Fordham portal. In the end 500 of the applicants were rejected and 2000 were waited listed until the regular admissions are sent in the beginning of April. Those that were rejected are allowed to reapply for regular admissions.
At a local CBS station CBS 2 reporter Tony Aiello indicated the admissions selectiveness at the university, stating; "Fordham is ranked as a top-five Catholic university in the country and 60 percent of those who apply are rejected."
For a couple of hours those high school seniors receiving the news were extremely happy that all their hard work paid off, and they had made it, being accepted meant that the pressure was off. The excitement magnified the disappointment when those few hours later they discovered the emailed acceptances were a mistake. It was even more distressing for the 500 students that discovered they were absolutely rejected admission.
The university acknowledged the disappointment that ensued because of the error; "Fordham and its undergraduate admissions staff are acutely aware of the high hopes prospective students and their families have regarding college acceptances. The University deeply regrets that some applicants were misled by the financial aid notice. The admission staff is working with S.A.S. to find out what went wrong."
The university is also not taking the Student Aid Services error that lightly either considering it an "embarrassment" for the university. VP of Enrollment Stace expressed that "[The university] is working with Student Aid Services to make sure we are satisfied - we want to make sure this won't happen again."
Both the university and the Student Aid Services released statements apologizing for the error.
Fordham University issued an apology saying it "deeply regrets that some applicants were misled by the financial aid notice" and "is working with SAS to find out what went wrong, and will put procedures in place to ensure such a mistake doesn't happen again."
Craig Carroll, CEO of Student Aid Services also formally apologized for the mistake in a statement, saying; "We are devastated by the error that has occurred today and extremely upset by the anguish that we have caused. Please accept our most sincere and heartfelt apologies."
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are academic & universities news, particularly history & library news.