Accepted by mistake?

Last week Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health sent out a bunch of acceptance notices--only they accidentally included 277 people they didn't mean to accept. A short while later they had to apologize to the 277 and rescind the acceptance.

There's a story like this almost every year. Colleges, even dream colleges, make mistakes and send the fat envelope to people who are supposed to get the skinny envelope. It's so bad that you may still feel unsure of an acceptance even after you get the notice. Here's what to do if you get an acceptance notice but you're not sure if it's really time to celebrate yet.

Don't worry about it. Around 200 mistakes out of roughly 20 million applications per year? That's not a problem, especially considering the mistake, as the one this year at Columbia, is with a graduate program and not the undergrad admissions. You should be more worried--because you have greater chances--of being hit by lightning. When you get good news, go ahead and celebrate.

But, just in case you (like me) are a worrier and won't be able to get the "what if they take it back?" thought out of your head, here are two more things you can try.

Wait 24 hours. The schools that accidentally send the wrong message usually correct it within a few hours. If you're really nervous about disaster, just wait a day before you get invested in your success. Under no circumstances should you fret for more than 24 hours.

Contact the school to confirm. Call the school, but don't tell them you're nervous they're going to take away your acceptance. Tell then you got the acceptance, and you're so happy and nervous you just want to confirm the date you have to give them an answer. Or the deposit amount. Or some detail like that. They'll likely congratulate you as they confirm the information that's clearly in the notice, and it'll be like getting an additional in-person acceptance. 

As acceptances and rejections start pouring in over the next few weeks, keep in mind that very few people get accepted to every school they apply to, but very very few people get rejected by all the schools they apply to. If you chose your applications well, you're going to be fine. If you didn''re still going to be fine. The things that impede young people from success are poor time management, bad habits, or financial distress. Nobody ended up hating their life because they didn't get accepted into the "right" college.

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