Congratulations, you've been admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology! Except actually you haven't. Those were the messages coming from MIT after e-mails alluding to admission were sent to the wrong group of prospective students last week.
According to WBZ-TV, the trouble started Feb. 5, after MIT's Admissions Counselor for Web Communications Chris Peterson attempted to send an e-mail to admitted students about financial aid.
Peterson explained on MIT's admissions blog that the e-mail went out to prospective students with a footer message that read, "You are on this list because you are admitted to MIT! [Celebrating smiley face]," instead of the standard greeting, "You are receiving this email because you applied to MIT and we sometimes have to tell you things about stuff."
He said he didn't realize a mistake had been made until a few posts started showing up on College Confidential, an online forum where users share information on schools.
Peterson said he wasn't sure of exactly how many not-admitted students got the e-mail, but guessed it was a small number that even noticed the flub. Still, it's MIT and the admissions e-mail blunder has been a recurring one over the past few years.
In December, The New York Times reported that Fordham College accidentally sent premature admission e-mails to 2,500 students. A spokesman said 500 of those students had been rejected and the other 2,000 had been deferred. Ouch.
UCLA had to issue a mea culpa in April of 2012 after sending financial aid e-mails to nearly 900 wait-list applicants with the message, "Once again, congratulations on your admission to UCLA."
Vassar College might've had the least amount of collateral damage in Jan. of 2012 after acceptance letters made it to the inboxes of 122 applicants. Forty-six of those applicants had actually been accepted.
Joyce Smith, CEO of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, told USA Today it happens.
But what makes MIT's situation different is that it's basically impossible to "absorb" the applicants accidentally accepted. "If they're looking for 1,500 only, they can't take 4,000."
MIT lists on its website that there were nearly 19,000 applicants for the class of 2017. The school accepted just over 1,500 or 8.2%.
The MIT applicants who did pass muster for this year will get their final notifications in March.