The Washington Post carried a horrific front-page story last week. Horrific, that is, for anyone who has ever been denied admission to the college of his or her choice—which, The Scrapbook guesses, might include a handful of readers.
A few days after sending out Yes, No, and Maybe notices to its 1,865 applicants for early admission, Johns Hopkins University followed up with an email to the 294 rejected/deferred students (subject line: “Embrace the YES!”), welcoming them to the Class of 2019. “We can’t wait for you to get to campus,” it exclaimed. “Until then, as one of the newest members of the family, we hope you’ll show your Blue Jay pride” by using the freshman class Twitter hashtag (#JHU2019), joining the (private) class group on Facebook—and, of course, buying stuff at the Hopkins online bookstore.
To be fair to the famous institution in Baltimore—a mere hour’s drive from The Weekly Standard offices in Washington—Johns Hopkins is not the only college to send acceptance notices, mistakenly, to applicants who have in fact been turned down. According to the Post story, Vassar and Fordham recently suffered similar mishaps, and in one spectacular example from 2009, the University of California at San Diego sent acceptance letters to all 46,000 of its applicants.
Of course, from The Scrapbook’s perspective, this is not so much a calamity for the schools involved as for those disappointed, high-octane high-school seniors. It is painful enough to be rejected once, especially by your number-one choice; but to have your hopes raised, and then cruelly dashed, a second time strikes us as a variant of waterboarding, academic-style. Nor did Hopkins make things better with its terse follow-up email to the effect that “the decision posted on the decision site reflects the accurate result of your Early Decision application.” Ouch!
Most disappointed applicants have taken this philosophically, but not all. The mother of one, quoted in the Post, believes that the Hopkins vice provost for admissions should make a personal phone call to each student, at the least, to apologize. But the vice provost disagrees: An awkward phone conversation, he believes, would merely exacerbate the pain of rejection. He may well be right about that—and, of course, any student who has applied for early decision to Johns Hopkins is likely to do just fine in the long run.
Still, there must be some way for these bruised scholars to express their frustrated feelings, and The Scrapbook has the perfect idea. We would suggest that, for the rest of their lives, all 294 should refer to the place in writing and orally, as John Hopkins.