Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in our graduate English program. We regret to inform you that your Imposter Syndrome was woefully misdiagnosed and that we cannot offer you admission into our department at this time. We received many applications from well-qualified, Pulitzer-Prize-winning candidates, but after careful review of your work, we assigned your application to the not-even-in-the-running-for-our-wait-list/FOR-THE-LOLz pile.

Admissions decisions are difficult and complicated for faculty who evaluate applications, but no more difficult and complicated than the vast web of lies your professors have clearly been spinning about your talent and scholarly potential to keep from hurting your feelings. By reading between the lines in their letters of recommendation, we have determined that you are pathologically hypersensitive and that this is why your college boyfriend, Ben, probably broke up with you. We are now all 100% #TeamBEN.

While we might ordinarily have been impressed by your academic records, your undergraduate institution did not seem to understand our request for your “official college transcripts” and instead sent us your elementary school Presidential Fitness report card. We were disturbed, to say the least, that — between the third and fifth grade — you never managed to do a single pull-up, a fact that we found deeply unpatriotic. As we mention on our website, we are looking for strong candidates for our program. By that, we specifically mean that we are seeking candidates with significant amounts of upper body strength in line with the traditional “Pull Up-or-Perish” adage of many institutions.

While we do not have the resources to comment on individual applications, we have all pooled together our time, in this instance, to tell you that your personal statement was much too personal and that, when we read it, we all collectively said, “YIKES,” and refused to make eye contact with each other for thirty minutes. If you choose to apply to work with us again in our next cycle, please add Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability and oversharing to your references so that you don’t alienate literally everyone who reads your application.

If you applied to more than one program, you may receive additional communication regarding your work, though — to be quite honest — we noticed that missing comma on page seven of your writing sample, and we immediately stuffed your entire application down the faculty garbage disposal and watched it disappear like Veruca Salt going down the garbage chute in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

When you were born, your mother labored for eighteen hours until the doctors finally had to do a cesarean section, and now she has a permanent scar because of you. It’s all your fault. You are a bad egg, much like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Thank you again for applying. We wish you success in the pursuit of your future “educational” endeavors.

Graduate Admissions Office