Admission Web glitch bewilders applicants

Michelle Ma

Frustrated high school seniors seeking to find out their admissions decisions for Northwestern through the Internet over the weekend got a faulty Web page instead. Their uncertainty loomed, only to find out a day later that they were denied.

Those students had to wait until Sunday to learn the university’s decision, while accepted and waitlisted students had immediate access to their decisions, said Rebecca Dixon, associate provost of university enrollment.

“We had some difficulty getting the denials page available for them,” Dixon said. “It was our fault.”

The Office of Admissions mailed all regular decision admission decisions Friday. The next day, e-mailed notices directed applicants to a Web site to check their application status. All applicants should have been able to instantly receive notification of their status but the connection in the URL for denials notification Web page was not activated correctly, Dixon said.

Information Technology staff in the admissions office fixed the computer glitch on Sunday, allowing all applicants to view their status, Dixon said. An admissions official sent an e-mail Sunday to all applicants apologizing for the delay in online notification for some applicants.

Bess Nagler, who attends The Weber School in Atlanta, was one of those students. She said she wasn’t alarmed when she couldn’t access her official decision.

“I figured there were so many people checking,” Nagler said. “I didn’t think it was a problem.”

On Sunday, she officially found out she was not accepted to the Class of 2009.

Still, she appreciated the e-mail sent to all applicants apologizing for the computer glitch.

Nagler was calm, but many applicants who couldn’t access their admission status e-mailed undergraduate admissions to complain over the weekend. More than 140 NU applicants vented on the College Confidential Web site about the unavailable acceptance status, Dixon said. The swamping of the undergraduate admissions inbox and the online comments alerted admissions staff members to the Web site’s problem, Dixon said.

About 4,784 applicants have been accepted for the Class of 2009, Dixon said, but this number will fluctuate. Last year the university admitted 4,684 applicants, and 1,985 students joined the freshman class. Ideally, Dixon said, this year’s entering freshman class will include 1,925 students.

NU applicant Andrea Fang learned of her acceptance on Saturday. But some of her friends remained in limbo, she said.

“(My friends) all checked around the same time as me on Saturday, ” said Fang, a senior at Bridgewater-Raritan High School in Bridgewater, N.J. Though Fang said she immediately received the news of her acceptance, “my two friends IMed me and told me they couldn’t get on (the Web page),” she said.

The Office of Admissions has supplemented the paper mail admittance letter with an online option for all applicants to know of their acceptance, denial or wait-list status for the last four years, Dixon said.

Accepted student Matt Schwartz said he preferred the online notification option because he could access the university’s decision even though he wasn’t home when it was released.

“It’s a lot easier checking over the Internet because I can do it from anywhere,” said Schwartz, a senior at Solon High School in Cleveland. Schwartz said he checked online Saturday while at his friend’s house in Connecticut.

“I was glad because I got in,” he said.

Walking through campus should be harder now that students are receiving their acceptances. Only two or three accepted seniors attended information sessions and campus tours early this week, said Pat Craig, an assistant in the admissions office. But officials expect to see an increase in that number by Friday.

Formal Preview NU sessions will begin for accepted seniors on April 18.

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected]