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E-mail brings joy, then dismay


By Matt Krupnick
Knight Ridder Feb. 22, 2006

Add law-school acceptances to the scams and mortgage offers you already disregard in your e-mail in-box.

Thousands of applicants to the University of California-Berkeley's Boalt Hall law school briefly exulted after a Friday afternoon e-mail implied they had been admitted for the fall semester. A quick follow-up brought them back to earth, telling them to disregard the first message.

Boalt's admissions director, Edward Tom, said he was showing a new employee how to use the school's new e-mail program when he clicked ``send'' just a bit too soon. Rather than the 500 or so successful applicants who were meant to receive the letter, an estimated 3,500 received a message inviting them to an event for those admitted early.

``I immediately realized, `Oh my goodness, what have I done?' '' Tom said Tuesday.

Within five minutes, the phones were ringing and e-mail replies were flooding Tom's in-box. Most applicants responded well to the letdown, but Tom himself was mortified.

``I am not naive enough to think no harm was done,'' he said. ``I'm aware of the anxiety and tension that exists with our applicants.

``It's a very lonely feeling, but I think I've done everything I could.''

Those who mistakenly received Friday's bogus e-mail still have a chance for the real thing. The school plans to accept up to 850 of the 7,000 or so applicants, most of whom will know by the end of March whether they are in.

Tom's plans call for delegating mass e-mails to his employees.

``My staff isn't going to let me touch that thing again,'' he said.