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Applicants get errant MIT acceptance message

For many MIT applicants, it seemed their prayers had been answered. An otherwise mundane mass e-mail from the college about financial aid ended with these magical words: “You are on this list because you are admitted to MIT!”

Problem was, it wasn’t true — not yet, at least. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology said it blundered in consolidating e-mail lists, causing the bottom part of a message aimed for applicants to be overwritten with a portion intended for early action students already accepted in December.

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It was not immediately clear how many students received the errant message. But the gaffe prompted an apology from MIT to those seeking a coveted spot in the class of 2018.

“My guess is that overall a very small number of our current applicants even noticed this,” Chris Peterson, an admissions counselor who handles Web communications, wrote on an MIT blog. “But any number of people getting this kind of mixed signal is too many.”

Peterson said admissions staff did not discover the error until confused applicants posted questions on the College Confidential website.

“I’ll forgive you if you accept me!” one applicant wrote on the site.

Peterson said he can sympathize. When he applied to colleges, he wrote, his top choice sent him a rejection letter addressed to “Christine Peterson Fitzpatrick.”

“It crushes — crushes — me to think that I might have unintentionally inflicted something similar on some of you,” he wrote.

But there’s hope yet: Final admissions decisions are due in March.

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