It was all a big oops. The university re-e-mailed everyone on Monday and apologized for the error, according to the LA Times.

This is the first time that UCLA has had a waitlist, according to The Daily Bruin student newspaper, and there are currently 2,900 applicants on that list. But it’s not the first time that a university has accidentally accepted or congratulated students that it doesn’t really want to admit.

Earlier this year, Vassar College mistakenly accepted 76 students who were later turned down. In 2009, the University of California, San Diego, accepted all 46,000 students who applied, including the 28,000 it had decided to reject. In 2010, George Washington University warmly welcomed about 200 rejected students to the Class of 2014.

Admissions officials have told me that such mistakes are easier to make nowadays than a decade or two ago when most correspondence was conducted over snail mail.

Admissions offices are juggling record numbers of applications, often without any additional staffing, plus long e-mail listservs that connect students with information from numerous campus departments. Oftentimes an embarrassing, heart-breaking accident is just one click or misworded sentence away.

At UCLA, the mistake was limited to one sentence in an e-mail that was sent to accepted and waitlisted students, updating them on changes to financial aid offerings. That sentence read: “Once again congratulations on your admission to UCLA, we hope that this information will assist you in making your decision to join the Bruin Family in the fall.”

If that sentence confused waitlisted students, they could log onto the university’s financial aid Web site, where they learned that they still hadn’t gotten in.

Still, UCLA officials felt bad. Spokesman Ricardo Vazquez told the LA Times: “We realize this is a particularly anxious and stressful time for students and their families as they try to make decisions about college admissions. We sincerely apologize for this mistake.”

This blog post was updated on Wednesday afternoon to attribute the Daily Bruin for reporting that UCLA just added a waitlist, instead of attributing that information to the LA Times.

You can read more about this gaffe on the LA Times and Daily Bruin Web sites. And for more higher education news, follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

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