Oops: MIT accidentally told applicants they got accepted to the school

Campus Reform Reporter

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  • Mix-up came when cleaning and consolidating email lists.
  • Admissions Counselor for Web Communications says the mistake was personally crushing.
  • On Feb. 5, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) incorrectly notified some prospective students that they had been admitted to the school thanks to an email mix-up.

    In a same-day blog post admitting to the goof, Admissions Counselor for Web Communications Chris Peterson said that the problem involved the mass emailing service the school uses, MailChimp. The system has multiple email lists but the two that mattered were the lists for admitted students and a list of prospective students who have applied for admission.

    “I’m incredibly, incredibly sorry to everyone who received this and read it and felt the mixture of confusion, elation, frustration it must have engendered.” - Chris Peterson, Admissions Counselor for Web Communications   

    When the school attempted to use the mass email service MailChimp to clean and consolidate the two lists, it imported the footer message from the emails intended for admitted students: “You are on this list because you are admitted to MIT.”

    Students who have applied but not yet been admitted were supposed to receive an email with a footer reading: “You are receiving this email because you applied to MIT and we sometimes have to tell you things about stuff.”

    Though he conceded that few people likely noticed the mistake, Peterson apologized to everyone who had been affected. He said had been a victim of a misprinted denial letter when he was applying to colleges and the erroneous emails were personally crushing.

    “I’m incredibly, incredibly sorry to everyone who received this and read it and felt the mixture of confusion, elation, frustration it must have engendered. We send out dozens of emails to hundreds of thousands of people and try to do it perfectly every time. We didn’t this time, and it’s my fault, and I hope you’ll forgive me.”

    A representative of the university's Media Relations department told Campus Reform that the exact number of students who had been erroneously told they had been admitted was unavailable. 

    The actual acceptance notices from the school are due out in March.

    Via Boston Magazine.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter@SteveLarson

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