Seventy-six would-be members of the Vassar College Class of 2016 had to put a cork in their festivities last Friday after finding out that the college had, in fact, not intended to offer them admission.
An employee of the college explained to The New York Times that a generic acceptance letter, serving as a placeholder, had not been removed before Early Decision II applicants were able to access their decisions.
Upon realizing its mistake, the college sent an apologetic email to those applicants who had viewed the placeholder letter and asked them to check their decisions a second time. One hundred and twenty-two applicants had already viewed their decisions, but only 46 had actually been granted admission. The email faulted a computer error for the mistake.
Dylan Leggio checked his decision at 4 p.m. last Friday and saw the words "You're in!" He posted a link to his Facebook profile on College Confidential and told his new classmates to add him as a friend. Then he told his mother, who tearfully asked to see the online letter. When Dylan returned to the webpage that had been an acceptance letter an hour earlier, he found instead a denial.
Initially, Vassar had no further plans for appeasing the 76 disgruntled applicants, despite calls for the college to honor the acceptances as Penn State did following a similar mistake in 2010. The school did eventually acquiesce to requests that the 76 applicants receive a refund for their $65 application fees.
Vassar President Catharine Hill sent an email to those affected by the mistake, which was later published on the website College Confidential.
"We will be reimbursing your application fee to Vassar, which I completely understand is of very little consolation," wrote Hill. "We also stand ready to contact other schools to explain the situation in case you have already withdrawn an application and need assistance in having it reinstated."
Dylan admitted to feelings of bitterness that lasted for several days, but he feels satisfied with Vassar's response to the error.
"I guess they're handling it well. There's not much else they could have done," he told the Orient in an email.
Leggio did take one thing from the experience. He and his friends have coined a term for having something taken away from them just after it was given: "being Vassar'd."