“Dozens of applicants to Vassar College were mistakenly told they had gotten into the school when they checked a website that had been set up for students applying for early decisions.”
— Associated Press, January 30, 2012

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Dear Applicant:

Due to a recent technical glitch on our admissions website, you were inadvertently offered acceptance to Vassar College, a mistake we are very much embarrassed by and for which we deeply apologize. Though we caught our error quickly, it was unfair of us to lead you to believe you were Vassar material, even for a few hours. After all the work you put in, not only in your application but throughout your academic career, you deserved a brief, tactful rejection that wished you the best as you pursued secondary educational opportunities, not the most exciting moment of your life.

While you were not among the students whose acceptance letters were the product of genuinely meeting our rigorous admissions standards, we encourage you to reapply at a later date. The quality of applications varies from year to year, and down the line, your application may match up more favorably in a less competitive admissions cycle.

It is important to remember that even though you will not be joining us at Vassar next fall and that other students will be doing exactly that, which is to say, attending Vassar, you still have many, many options at your disposal. It is well documented that state colleges are steady, dependable educational institutions with ample social opportunities. Also, our nation’s armed forces can provide you with outstanding technical training and leadership skills, both of which you’ll receive in the service of your country.

Or perhaps this setback is a sign that you ought to get into sales like your father and grandfather, both of whom did pretty well for themselves, didn’t they?

We have a saying at Vassar that I’m not allowed to reveal to you because you’re not at Vassar (and won’t be), but the gist of it is that no dream was ever realized without persistence. You will simply have to persist longer than others for your dream, and there’s no reason you can’t. You are young, and there is ample time for you to regroup, to look yourself in the mirror and say, “I can be anybody I want to be, except a Vassar alumnus/a.”

Throughout history, many, many people have gone on to achieve great things without the Vassar education that you will also lack. And while you might be tempted to dwell on this disappointment, allow it to twist you in some unholy way, it is important to focus on what, if anything, lies ahead.

But again, we wish we could undo our mistake, which, to reiterate, was erroneously informing you that you had been accepted to Vassar when your application materials in no way, shape, or form merited it. We hope this letter has at least provided you with some comfort as you go forward in the complete and utter absence of a Vassar education.

We will also happily send you a bumper sticker that you are free to put on your car if your conscience allows it. And cheer up! You applied to Vassar, for pete’s sake. How bad can your life be?

Catharine Hill, President, Vassar College

P.S. You would have found our campus lovely, year-round.