A Common Mistake Put My Daughter’s College Application In Jeopardy

“Mom, I think there is something wrong with my application.”

I heard the terror in my daughter’s voice as she walked into my bedroom. I looked up from my TV and placed my steaming mug of green tea onto my night table.

She was shaking as she showed me her phone screen.

There was a red “X” next to the line that read “Guidance Counselor Early Decision Agreement.”

“What is that?” I asked her.

I don’t know,” she wailed at me.

A common mistake put my daughter's college application in jeopardy.
An email that went to a junk folder put my daughter’s college application in jeopardy. (fizkes/Shutterstock)

Her Early Decision Application to the college of her dreams had been submitted early, a month before it was due. She had worked on it, along with her other applications, all summer. Over the past three years, she studied and worked as hard as she could to achieve the grades needed for prestigious school that she had fallen in love with.

The application looked perfect. We checked it over a million times to make sure that every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed. She held her breath when she hit “submit.” Next, she made sure that her transcripts and test scores were sent. Then, all she could do was wait until December 15thto hear whether or not she was accepted.

The night that she walked into my bedroom was December 6th. In her junk folder, she had found an email from the college stating that her high school guidance counselor had never signed the form needed for her Early Decision Application to be accepted. The form was due November 26th, and it was now way past the deadline.

She was panicking, and so was I. It was 8:00 pm and we were unable to reach anyone at the high school. We had to wait until morning and needless to say, neither of us slept very well that night.

I called the high school first thing in the morning and reached the Vice Principal who, after hearing what happened, told me that the school would take full responsibility and that her guidance counselor would call the college to explain what happened.

We both breathed a small sigh of relief and my daughter felt a little better as she got into her car to drive to school. It seemed as if this would be resolved right away.

Even so, I was uneasy, and knew that I would be until the college acknowledged the high school’s mistake and accepted the application.

I soon found out that I was right to feel uneasy. A few hours later, the guidance counselor called to inform me that the college would not accept my daughter as an Early Decision applicant because she had not responded to the email before the November 26thdeadline. She could apply for Early Decision II and would receive a decision by February. Those were their rules, and it did not matter that the email had gone straight to her junk folder and she had never seen it.

I knew this would devastate her. Not only would she have to wait that much longer for a decision, but it would change the back up plan she had put in place if she was not accepted. Her chances of going to any of her top choice schools would be diminished.

The guidance counselor called my daughter into her office to break the news. Five minutes later, my phone rang while I was at work. I could barely make out her words through the sobbing.

“Mom, please come pick me up. I need to go home and I don’t think I can drive.”

I raced out of my office and over to the high school to pick her up. She cried the whole way home, and collapsed onto the couch when we walked into the house. I just sat with her while she cried and I thought how unfair this was. She was being punished very harshly for a mistake that wasn’t really hers.

Her only crime was not responding to an email that had gone straight to her junk folder.

As I was trying to reconcile this in my mind, my phone rang. It was the head of guidance at the high school.

She called to inform me that she had gone over my daughter’s transcripts and test scores and she believed she was a perfect fit for the school she so desperately wanted to attend. She agreed that the decision was unfair, as the mistake was not my daughter’s, and she was going to continue to fight for her. She had left a message for the head of admissions at the college and was waiting for a call back. I thanked her and she promised to inform us as soon as she heard anything.

I also shared with her my daughter’s reasons for wanting to go to this particular college. Her father had passed away when she was ten years old, and this school had a very good Child Development Program, and my daughter wants a career where she can help children who have gone through trauma in childhood.

The Head of Guidance started to cry when I told her this and promised to work her hardest to resolve the situation.

We waited on pins and needles until we heard from the Head of Guidance.

I jumped to answer the phone when it rang a couple of hours later. Honestly, I was not expecting good news, but I was thankfully wrong. She happily informed us that, under the circumstances, they decided to make an exception and allow the Early Decision Application to go through. My daughter would be hearing the following week along with the rest of the applicants.

Seven days later, we again sat on pins and needles as we awaited the admission decision. I saw her shaking as she turned her computer on. I knew she was especially nervous, fearing that the incident had diminished her chances of acceptance.

This was not the case – she was accepted!

I do not believe I have ever seen her as happy as she was at that moment. She is looking so forward to being a freshman in the fall. I know her hard work will continue.

There is one other thing I am sure of – after this, she will always check her junk mail.


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About Stacy Feintuch

Stacy Feintuch became a single mom to her two young daughters after the unexpected death of her husband in 2011. After a few very difficult years, she started a blog about her experience at The Widow Wears Pink. She has also been published on sites such as Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Option B, Better After 50, and Her View From Home. She has recently co-created an online lifestyle magazine www.livingthesecondact.comfor women moving forward in their lives in their 40s and 50s. Her most important job is mom to her two daughters, who are growing up faster than she would like. You can also find her on Facebook and on Twitter at @stacyfeintuch.

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