Carnell Poindexter reviewed the subject line of the email – “Congratulations!” – and opened it immediately while in a debate class at his high school in West Bloomfield, Mich.
Mr. Poindexter, 18, with a GPA of 3.8, thought maybe this was the scholarship he was expecting from Oakland University.
“You worked hard and it paid off!” read the email January 4, announcing that he had won a four-year $48,000 academic scholarship. Mr. Poindexter, who wanted to be a lawyer, and his parents were excited.
But then, more than two hours later, came another email with the subject line “MODIFIED”.
Oakland University – whose campus has expanded into two cities, Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills, each about 30 miles from Detroit – said it mistakenly told 5,500 admission students that they had won a scholarship. . In-state students pay approximately $58,000 in tuition for four years, with accommodation and board costs an additional $11,192 a year, by university.
The university told the students in a follow-up email, “Because you are not a recipient of the Platinum Presidential Scholar Award, unfortunately this notice was sent to you in error.”
And just like that, the excitement of thousands of students, including Mr. Poindexter, evaporated.
Mr Poindexter’s mother, Gwen Poindexter, said: ‘He is extremely frustrated, embarrassed, even resentful because he has done so much hard work.
Brian Bierley, a spokesman for the university, said in a statement that the mistake was “due to human error.” He added that students who received the message were not eligible to receive the award.
To be eligible for the Platinum Presidential Scholar Award, incoming students must have a high school GPA of at least 3.9 and an SAT score of 1,450 or higher, or 33 on the competitive ACT, by university. As of this month, 162 students have qualified for the scholarship and 62 have accepted.
The erroneous email from Oakland University came weeks before another Michigan university made the same mistake.
Central Michigan University told 58 high school seniors this month that they have won the Centralis Scholars Award, which will cover their tuition and living expenses, and award them $5,000 to study abroad. But a few days later, the students were told that the email was a mistake and that they had not won the prestigious scholarship.
Then the university told those students that it will still pay their full tuition for four years, but they will not receive the other perks of the scholarship.
That course correction left Ms. Poindexter wondering if Oakland University had taken steps to make up for its error. She said she understands there’s a big difference between helping 58 students with scholarships and helping 5,500, but some form of compensation seems appropriate for her son and other students who received the wrong email.
“We’ve seen what happened with Central Michigan and how they say, ‘We’ll admit our fault,'” Ms Poindexter said. “We said, ‘Well, why didn’t the organizers do that?'”
Mr. Bierley said Oakland University encourages students to “submit updated transcripts and any new test scores between now and the fall semester to see if they qualify for additional scholarships.”
In an email apologizing to students, the university said: “We know the college application process is an extremely stressful time and we apologize for the confusion and frustration this email has caused. .”
Ms. Poindexter said what displeased her the most was seeing her son call friends and family members to report the mistake. Oakland University used to be one of his top picks, and the prospect of becoming a Golden Bear excites him.
Ms. Poindexter said her son is still considering a place at Oakland University but will wait to see if other colleges offer scholarships for him.
“Everybody knows,” she said, “that college is expensive.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/30/us/oakland-university-scholarship-mistake.html The university mistakenly told 5,500 students that they had won a great scholarship