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UCLA sends mistaken congrats to 894 applicants and then apologizes

April 10, 2012 |  2:31 pm

UCLA

Congratulations, you’re in! Oops, nevermind. That was a mistake.

In an email about financial aid awards, UCLA told 894 high school seniors last weekend that they were admitted to the highly competitive campus. Those students actually remain on the waiting list for the Westwood school.

UCLA is apologizing for the error. Officials, however, are not yet moving anyone into the admitted category.

“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 campus spokesman Ricardo Vazquez.

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, 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.”

Adding to the confusion, the email directed those 894 students via an online link to a detailed financial aid letter that clearly stated they were on the waiting list. Those mixed messages prompted phone calls to UCLA from applicants who didn’t know whether they should be elated -- or not. UCLA’s financial aid office on Monday then sent out messages telling the 894 that they were not admitted, along with an apology.

Vazquez attributed the mix up to human error and said UCLA is looking into exactly how the mistake was made on the email lists.

This type of error has precedents in the UC system. In 2009, UC San Diego messed up on a grand scale when it mistakenly sent admissions notices to about 28,000 applicants who actually were rejected. An apology was sent within hours. In 2010, UC Santa Barbara mistakenly told 60 applicants they were admitted to the next fall's freshman class when, in fact, they remained on the waiting list.

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--Larry Gordon

Photo: UCLA students move into a new residential building in February. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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