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Articles / Applying to College / I Got an Acceptance Letter After I Was Rejected. Is it A Mistake?

I Got an Acceptance Letter After I Was Rejected. Is it A Mistake?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Feb. 22, 2019
I Got an Acceptance Letter After I Was Rejected. Is it A Mistake?
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I was rejected by my first choice (East Carolina University) in October. I got into another school (Auburn) and figured I will just go there. My family and I went to Alabama last weekend to tour Auburn so I could decide which dorm I liked best before sending in my deposit. When I got home, there was a letter in the mailbox from ECU saying "congratulations, you've been admitted." It made no mention of my first denial. Do I trust that this isn't a mistake? Should I call them? I would rather go to ECU but this is confusing, since I thought I was rejected. Is this common?

No, this isn't common at all! Occasionally, students are admitted following a rejection, but typically this is only after launching a vigorous appeal ... and such appeals are rarely successful.


Have you checked your ECU admissions portal? Is that where you first learned that you were rejected? If you haven't looked there recently, do it now. Then you should definitely call ECU and iron out the confusion. Explain when and how you were notified of your rejection and then report what the portal says today (and what the letter in the mail indicated).

It seems as if every year, at least one college sends out erroneous “Congratulations" letters to applicants that they'd actually intended to deny. But it is indeed unusual for a school to congratulate a student who's already been denied!

Good luck, and let us know what you find out.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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