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A College Rejection Meltdown In 5 Emails

A helicopter mother, an admissions dean and a rejection odyssey, by Alexandra Fields. (kaysgeog/ flickr)MoreCloseclosemore
A helicopter mother, an admissions dean and a rejection odyssey, by Alexandra Fields. (kaysgeog/ flickr)

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Dear Mrs. Williams:

While I certainly understand how disappointing it can be to receive undesirable news, I did want to follow up on your most recent email to reassure you that there was not “some kind of mix-up” in Elite University’s decision to decline your daughter’s admission. We truly regret that this decision has resulted in the unfortunate return of your gastrointestinal condition, in addition to your severe and persistent rheumatoid arthritis in your big toe.

While Ingrid is undoubtedly a very bright and talented young woman, please understand that we simply have more qualified candidates than we can admit. All admissions decisions are final, and we cannot accept requests for reconsideration.

Sincerely,
Celeste McDaniels
Dean of Admission, Elite University ‘83

I did want to...reassure you that there was not "some kind of mix-up" in Elite University’s decision to decline your daughter’s admission.

Dear Mrs. Williams:

Thank you for your email and sharing your heartfelt belief that our electronic submission system is the equivalent of “tossing an application out the window of an 80-story building and hoping someone catches it.” While we contact students directly if materials are missing from their applications, I have pulled Ingrid’s file and confirmed it was complete.

Finally, to answer your question, while it is true that the majority of our applicants possess simple first name last name email addresses, Ingrid was not penalized for listing her email address, QTwithAbooT98@yahoo.com, on her application. I can assure you Ingrid received a thorough and fair review. I feel confident that she will have many wonderful options to continue on her academic journey.

Sincerely,
Celeste McDaniels
Dean of Admission, Elite University ‘83

Ingrid was not penalized for listing her email address, QTwithAbooT98@yahoo.com, on her application. I can assure you Ingrid received a thorough and fair review.

Dear Mrs. Williams:

Thank you for your email, and for continuing to be such a strong advocate for your daughter. To answer your question, I was not offering to contact the deans of other institutions to advocate on Ingrid’s behalf when I wrote, “I feel confident that she will have many wonderful options.” As I am sure you can imagine, such an act would constitute a gross misuse of power.

We are never able to point to a single factor that led to a negative admissions outcome; instead, we review applications holistically and balance a number of factors when making our admission decisions. I’m afraid at this point there is not much more I can share with you that would be useful.

Sincerely,
Celeste McDaniels
Dean of Admission, Elite University ‘83

...I was not offering to contact the deans of other institutions to advocate on Ingrid’s behalf when I wrote, “I feel confident that she will have many wonderful options.”

Dear Mrs. Williams:

Thank you for your email, and for the singing telegram you sent to serenade my daughter with songs from "Frozen." While she was undeniably thrilled, I must insist that you refrain from such displays moving forward; my husband, the university and the local police department were understandably alarmed.

I’d like to be clear that when I stated in my previous email, “We are never able to point to a single factor that led to a negative admissions outcome; instead, we review applications holistically and balance a number of factors when making our admission’s decisions,” I was attempting to provide some further information on about process. I was in no way suggesting that Ingrid’s application was “a complete and utter failure” full of “not just one but infinite unforgivable errors,” or that the “hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on Ingrid’s private school and tutoring clearly were for naught.”

Additionally, I am not able to provide the acceptance rate for white students versus students of color. Your story about the difficulties of being a white, privileged female in a changing America is an interesting one. I would encourage you to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s "Between the World and Me," Michelle Alexander’s "The New Jim Crow" and everything ever written by Toni Morrison.

Sincerely,
Celeste McDaniels
Dean of Admission, Elite University ‘83

Your story about the difficulties of being a white, privileged female in a changing America is an interesting one. I would encourage you to read...everything ever written by Toni Morrison.

Dear Ms. Williams:

Thank you for your email, and for sharing with us your horror in discovering your mother’s email chain when borrowing her iPad to watch "House Hunters." We understand how stressful the college admissions process can be for parents, and while we appreciate your thoughtfulness, there is no need to apologize on behalf of her correspondence. Your plan to take a break from your education, buy a vintage VW bus and travel to Colorado to join the fight for legalizing cannabis certainly sounds exciting. We wish you nothing but the greatest success.

Sincerely,
Celeste McDaniels
Dean of Admission, Elite University ‘83

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Alexandra Fields Cognoscenti contributor
Alexandra Fields is an MFA candidate at Sarah Lawrence College.

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