It’s every incoming freshman’s worst nightmare: accepting an admissions offer only to find out that the university has taken it back.
Hundreds of students planning to attend the University of California-Irvine this fall are facing this reality. In July, only two months before the fall term begins, 499 incoming freshmen were notified that UC Irvine had rescinded their offers of admission.
Reports of the withdrawn offers provoked overwhelming response from students, parents and even Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), who represents Los Angeles in Congress. Many complained that the withdrawals were a result of over-enrollment at the school, which reported having 27,331 undergraduates last fall.
So what was the reasoning behind UC-Irvine’s decision to revoke hundreds of offers? The answer is complicated, and university officials are pushing back against the idea that the withdrawals were a direct result of over-enrollment.
University officials told the Orange County Register that they had planned for a freshman class of 6,250 students, but about 7,100 ended up accepting their admission offers. That’s about 850 more students than UC-Irvine anticipated attending in the fall.
In turn, the university took a “harder line” on enforcing its policies requiring students to keep their grades up and submit transcripts and test scores by a specific deadline, Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for student affairs, told prospective students in a memo on Friday. His letter came two days after the university’s student government association demanded an apology from administrators.
“We heard from some students that this year’s process was too stringent and our customer-service approach needs improvement,” Parham wrote in the letter. “For those who felt ignored or mistreated, I sincerely apologize.”
Universities across the country have similar policies regarding transcripts and grades, but differ in the number of withdrawals they issue each year.
For instance, the Los Angeles Times reported that UCLA revoked seven freshman offers this year, while UC-San Diego revoked nine. A spokeswoman at UC-Davis said the school averaged about 150 withdrawals in the past two years.
Many students who received notice that their admission had been withdrawn from UC-Irvine were devastated. Simran Chopra of Los Angeles told the Register that she locked herself in a bathroom and cried after learning that UC-Irvine had rescinded their offer because they did not have her transcript.
Chopra said she had proof that her transcript was sent before the July 1 deadline. “This was really heartbreaking for me,” Chopra told the Register.
Though students were originally told their appeals could take four to six weeks to process, UC-Irvine now plans to address all appeals by the end of the week.
As of Monday afternoon, 367 students have appealed the withdrawals, UC-Irvine communications officer Pat Harriman told USA TODAY College. 189 of those appeals were related to grades and 178 were related to transcripts, Harriman said.
So far 117 students have had their admission reinstated, and “no student will have his or her provisional acceptance withdrawn because UCI may be over its first-year student enrollment target,” Harriman wrote in an email.
Parham echoed this sentiment in his note to incoming students, writing that “no acceptance will be withdrawn due to over-enrollment, despite external reports to the contrary.”
At the same time, Harriman appeared to acknowledge that “unprecedented student demand” was a factor in UC-Irvine’s decision to strictly enforce its policies on grades and transcripts.
“We received more than 104,000 applications — more than all U.S. colleges except two — and more students than we anticipated selected UCI as their first-choice school,” Harriman told USA TODAY College. “We are working to accommodate all those who have accepted provisional admission who have met the terms and conditions of their offer.”
For some students, UC-Irvine’s attempts to make amends may come too late. Julia Kim, who had her offer rescinded due to a transcript mix-up, didn’t want to wait to find out whether her appeal would be approved, according to the Register.
Instead, she made the decision to go elsewhere. She will attend Clark University in the fall.
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