TIME Education

The Long, Sad Tradition of College Admissions Mistakes

People walk on Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus in Baltimore on July 8, 2014.
People walk on Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus in Baltimore on July 8, 2014. Patrick Semansky—AP

This sort of thing happens pretty much every year

The news that Johns Hopkins University had mistakenly sent acceptance letters to applicants who didn’t actually make the cut was especially cruel for the nearly three hundred kids who were actually rejected. But it was not, unfortunately, uncommon. This kind of spirit-crushing mixup has become a nearly annual rite of college admissions, particularly since application processes went electronic in the early 2000s. Here’s a rundown of some of the worst offenders:

1995: Elizabeth Mikus, a 17-year-old, is among 45 early-acceptance applicants who receive a fat envelope with a form letter that says “Welcome to Cornell!” But it turns out that the envelopes were sent “due to a clerical error.” Mikus suffers a second time in April when she gets a thin envelope rejecting her again. The family threatened to sue the school over the mishap.

2002: Administrators at the University of California, Davis pick a cruel date to correct a mistake. After sending letters of acceptance to 105 high school students the previous month, the school sends follow-up emails on April Fool’s Day explaining that those letters had been sent in error.

2003: Cornell again. This time the university sends an email saying “Greetings from Cornell, your future alma mater!” to nearly 550 high school students who had already received their rejection letters in December. The school sends emails explaining the mistake a few hours later, in an era when news outlets still called them “email letters.”

2004: UC Davis has back-to-back mishaps. First, the school allows personal data from some 2,000 applicants, including SAT scores and Social Security numbers, to become viewable by other applicants. Soon after, the school acknowledges that they mistakenly sent emails telling 6,500 applicants that they had won $7,500 scholarships. It is the first year UC Davis had sent scholarship announcements by email. “Clearly, we have bugs in that system,” a school representative told the Los Angeles Times.

2006: About 100 high school students receive a congratulatory note welcoming them to the University of Georgia, only to get another letter a few days later explaining that those notes should be disregarded. Someone picked up “the wrong file,” an administrator explains, and failed to send what the students should have gotten: a letter thanking them for applying.

2006: Thousands of applicants to law school at the University of California, Berkeley are invited, and then uninvited, to an alumni-sponsored party for students who had been admitted early. “Anybody who’s made this sort of error can imagine my feelings at that point,” says the admissions director who had accidentally sent the email to the entire applicant pool. “It was a shocking kind of realization: ‘Oh my goodness, what have I done?'”

2007: More than 2,500 students are emailed a congratulatory note on their admission to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — only to be told the following day that decisions about their applications had not yet been made. “I’d give anything to go back to 3 p.m. yesterday and change what happened,” the director of undergraduate admissions told WRAL.

2008: About 50 students are welcomed to Northwestern University’s renowned Kellogg School of Management, before being informed that they were actually rejected. Officials describe it as a “technological glitch” in their “automated mail-merge process.”

2009: Yet another unwelcome April Fool’s surprise. About 500 applicants to New York University’s graduate school of public service receive emails announcing their acceptance. About an hour later, they receive emails saying they had not, it turns out, been selected.

2009: Perhaps the largest ball-dropping yet occurred when the University of California, San Diego sent 28,000 students an email saying they had been accepted. Of course, they were not.

2010: Roughly 200 students who had sought early admission to George Washington University receive notes that, as the Washington Post put it, “welcomed them to the Class of 2014 — for several hours.” The mea culpa follows shortly after. The same year, 56 applicants to Vanderbilt University are mistakenly sent acceptance letters, as well as 2,500 applicants to Middlesex University in the U.K.

2011: About 2,000 students are sent acceptance letters from Virginia’s Christopher Newport University, followed by a apology (and take-backsies) about four hours later. The culprit is a database error committed by a human.

2012: Nearly 900 students are informed, wrongly, that they got into UCLA. Hundreds are told, in error, that they’re welcome to attend Ireland’s University of Ulster. And 76 students are led to believe, for 30 minutes, that they have been accepted early to Vassar College.

2013: About 2,500 early-admission applicants to Fordham University are sent financial aid notices congratulating them on their acceptance to the school, though their fates had not actually been decided. “Fordham and its undergraduate admissions staff are acutely aware of the high hopes prospective students and their families have regarding college acceptances,” the school told the New York Times. “The University deeply regrets that some applicants were misled by the financial aid notice.”

TIME Television

Watch the Trailer for the Final Season of Parks and Rec, Set in the Future

Jerry's new name is Terry, for instance

Parks and Recreation‘s final season (sad face) will air on Jan. 13 and will take place in 2017. (You know, since at the end of the previous season they jumped ahead three years. Continuity.) Now, thanks to this new, science fiction-tinged trailer, we get a glimpse into what life is like the near future. (Spoiler: there will be drones.)

All your favorite Pawneeans are back, but they’ve definitely changed. Andy, for example, now has his own TV show. Jerry now goes by Terry (against his will, obviously). Tom’s now a mogul (or so he claims).

Otherwise, we’re all just going to have to tune in on Jan. 13 to figure out what else is going on. Our only major hope is that there’s a Li’l Sebastian statue somewhere by 2017.

TIME celebrity

Watch Sir Ian McKellen Teach Cookie Monster About Self-Control

Specifically, how to resist delicious cookies

Back in October, we were lucky enough to see Ice Cube perform magic tricks on Sesame Street. Now, we get to see another, older, more British celeb make an appearance on the show. This time, it’s Sir Ian McKellen.

The Lord of the Rings actor has graciously arrived at Sesame Street to teach Cookie Monster a new word: “resist.” He starts with a simple definition: “The word resist means to control yourself and stop yourself from doing something you really want to do.”

McKellen uses a few examples that Cookie Monster does not relate to — until, of course, the actor busts out a cookie and forces Cookie Monster to resist it. Or at least, try to resist it.

Read next: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Early (Sunny) Days of Sesame Street

TIME Internet

This Honest Trailer for The Hobbit Shows Just How Repetitive the Film Trilogy Is

"A nearly three-hour movie with the plot of one-third of a children's novel "

The YouTube channel behind the viral, snarky commentary for Love Actually and Guardians of the Galaxy is out with an equally cynical take on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), the second film in the Hobbit trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, who directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s books.

In a fake trailer for the movie, the comedians, known as “Screen Junkies,” argue the film is too long, describing it as “a nearly three-hour movie with the plot of one-third of a children’s novel that will have audiences everywhere saying, ‘oh my god, it’s STILL going,'” while saying “tiny sections of the book” are “stretched into hours.”

The video is pegged to the release of the last installment of The Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies this week.

TIME society

Watch a Quiz Show Contestant Get a Ridiculously Easy Question Wrong

Schadenfreude

A contestant on the Australian quiz show Millionaire Hot Seat is going viral because she had trouble answering one of the easiest game show questions one could possibly get.

The question: “Which of these is not a piece of jewelry commonly worn to symbolize a relationship between two people?”

Possible answers included engagement ring, anniversary ring, wedding ring, and burger ring (a snack food) and she chose “anniversary ring.”

She seemed to have overlooked the “not a piece of jewelry” part of the question because when the show’s host Eddie McGuire slowly repeated that key clause, she immediately realized that she should have said burger ring.

TIME Parenting

Watch a ‘Doctors Without Borders’ Parody That’s All About Your Mom

Help is on the way

There’s a new parody of Doctors Without Borders, and they’re almost as helpful as the real ones. They’re not curing Ebola, but they’re doing something that promotes mental health: teaching moms how to talk to their adult daughters without being passive-aggressive. This hilarious spoof of a Doctors Without Borders PSA tells adult women not to worry, because help is on the way. Soon, the world will be free of veiled hostility and judgment of your life choices.

The video contains some NSFW language, but you can watch it here.

Made by the group COMICS4MSF, the YouTube description says it was screened at a Doctors Without Borders fundraiser, even though the comedians are not affiliated with the organization. It features Jena Friedman, who’s also a field producer for The Daily Show.

(Visit the Doctors Without Borders site to learn more about their life-saving work around the world.)

TIME Television

Watch Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon Play Summer Camp Besties Who Can’t Stop Singing Third Eye Blind

"I would understaaaaaaand"

On Tuesday’s episode of The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake made really, really great use of their acting and singing skills.

In a sketch about summer camp, Fallon and JT play a pair of brace-faced pubescent boys who can’t fall asleep (as they ate too many Pop Rocks, obviously), so they stay up late talking about crushes and their changing bodies and other pubescent boy things. Eventually, the conversation turns to music, and they launch into a beautiful rendition of Third Eye Blind’s 1998 hit, “Jumper.”

Despite getting scolded several times, they’re just so overcome with emotion that they can’t stop singing. It’s beautiful.

Also, make sure to note how many times they break character. It manages to make the sketch even funnier.

Read next: Watch John Krasinski and Emily Blunt Prank Jimmy Kimmel

TIME holiday

Have a Very Marie Curie Christmas With These Nobel Physicist Snowflake Decorations

Because every scientist is unique in their own special way

Do you love the holidays? Do you love science? Are you a nerd?

If you answered yes all of the above, or even just the last one, Symmetry magazine has a holiday decoration just for you: Nobel prize-winning scientist snowflakes.

“Energy and mass may be equivalent, but this Albert Einstein snowflake is beyond compare,” writes Kathryn Jepson of Symmetry a particle physics journal, alongside a downloadable PDF template for cutting out the snowflakes yourself.

Other templates include the Marie Curie snowflake—which “radiates charm”—and the Erwin Schrödinger snowflake: “Is it an Erwin Schrödinger snowflake with cats on it, or is it a cat snowflake with Erwin Schrödinger on it?”

Read more and get your snowflake templates now at Symmetry

TIME animals

Watch a Dog With No Front Paws Learn to Run With 3D-Printed Legs

He was also born with small forearms

In a heartwarming promotion for 3D systems, a 3D printing company, a dog named Derby tries out a pair of 3D-printed prosthetic legs. The dog has “a congenital deformity characterized by small forearms and no front paws,” according to a statement.

Before Derby got his new legs, he could only move around on soft surfaces indoors, so the new legs are supposed to help him get around on hard surfaces like sidewalks without injuring himself. His owner Dom Portanova says, “He runs faster than the both of us.”

As CEO of 3D Systems Avi Reichental summed up 3D printing’s influence to TIME earlier this year, “This is one of those technologies that literally touches everything we do.”

LIST: 25 Best Inventions of 2014

TIME society

More Proof That Mondays Are Terrible: It’s the Most Common Day for Workplace Injuries

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Getty Images

Ban Mondays.

The one thing all of humankind has in common — besides the sandwich — is a shared hatred for Mondays, because obviously, they’re just the worst in general. But it also turns out Monday is the day when the most workplace injuries occur.

According to the annual report on “nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses” by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 167,000 workplace injuries took place on Mondays in 2013 — more than any other day of the week. And this is not a new trend, as FiveThiryEight points out. Monday has consistently been the most injury-prone day for the past several years. And while there’s no explicit correlation between the day and the numbers, we still have one main takeaway: Ban Mondays.

(h/t FiveThirtyEight)

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