Entire Class of 2025 falsely admitted to the AU Honors Program

AU Undergraduate Admissions apologizes for sending all newly admitted students Honors Program acceptances

Entire Class of 2025 falsely admitted to the AU Honors Program
AU Undergraduate Admissions sent emails to every newly admitted student with an acceptance to the AU Honors Program on March 18. The office apologized the next day.

American University’s slate of students accepted to the Class of 2025 got an unexpected surprise on March 18 when they all received an email congratulating them on their acceptance to AU’s Honors Program.

There was only one issue: many had not even applied.

Nahum Elias, a high school senior at Upper Merion Area High School in Pennsylvania, received the email after being admitted to the Class of 2025. Elias said he considered AU to be one of his top choices while applying to colleges.

“The Honors acceptance kind of shocked me because I knew that I didn’t actually apply for the Honors Program,” Elias said. “But I was still excited regardless, and I went to my family and started telling everyone, ‘I got into the Honors Program.’”

The entire newly admitted class received the news after the regular decision emails came out on March 17. AU sent out an apology to every student on March 19, saying the mistake was “due to an error in one of our database systems.”

University spokesperson Lisa Stark wrote in a statement to The Eagle that the Office of Enrollment has used the Recruit software system to manage communication with specific groups of students numerous times in the past. 

This time, however, the Recruit system overrode the original query to send the email to only newly accepted Honors students. The selection of Honors students that was originally intended to receive this email was deleted by the software, Stark wrote. 

The override occurred without any notification or warning for the enrollment office to see, and on March 18 the email was automatically sent out to all admitted students without the Honors selection filter, Stark wrote.

Elias said that although this will remain a laughable moment for years to come, the situation caught him off guard and left him confused.

“This is like a dream or a nightmare that you get into school and then they accidentally send you that,” Elias said. “That was my worst nightmare coming into this whole college process that I would get an acceptance when I wouldn’t actually have gotten in. But it was a little bit scary too, so I didn’t really know how to react to it.” 

Perri Schwartz, a senior at The Cottage School in Roswell, Georgia, was also surprised to receive the Honors acceptance email. 

“It was very weird. I had a feeling that it was a faulty error, so I immediately knew not to take the email as an indication that I was admitted because I remembered that I did not apply,” Schwartz said. “I was very confused too.”

The Honors acceptance email invited every admitted student to a webinar scheduled for March 29.

“The email said ‘Perri, congratulations on your admission to American University and the AU Honors Program. Join the AU Honors Program for online events to speak with program administrators as well as meet other students admitted to the program,’ and I’m literally thinking to myself, ‘huh?’” Schwartz said.

Despite this false honors acceptance error, Schwartz said that she is excited to begin her journey as an Eagle in the Class of 2026 after she takes a gap year. 

Stark also sent The Eagle a statement from Vice Provost for Undergraduate Enrollment Sharon Alston in response to this mistake.

“We realize that applying for college admission is a stressful process, and we take care to be accurate in our communications with students,” Alston said. “We understand how important this is. We sincerely regret this mistaken email. As soon as we realized this had occurred, we communicated with students and apologized for the error, and ensured they had the correct information. We have now taken steps to ensure this does not happen again.”

The company that makes the Recruit software, Ellucian, is planning to make a product change, according to Stark.

“In addition, AU’s Office of Information Technology has taken action to proactively identify any similar queries that the Recruit system finds problematic so they can be modified by staff to avoid these situations in the future,” Stark wrote. “The Office of Enrollment has suspended its use of the Recruit system for its emails as these updates are implemented.”

rrafi@theeagleonline.com

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