Sacramento State accidentally accepts 3,500 students on its waitlist

Sacramento State accidentally accepted 3,500 waitlisted students for fall admission, resulting in 500 additional students who began classes this semester.

The error occurred when the waitlisted students were mistakenly invited to the university’s Admitted Students Day this year, according to Brian Henley, the university’s director of admissions and outreach. The error was first reported by The State Hornet, the school’s student newspaper.

The university sent an email out in March to all accepted students, welcoming them to the special event. When the university invited waitlisted students to visit the school, the email began with, “Congratulations.”

Sacramento State chose not to rescind the invitation, which implied the students were accepted.

“We typically accept students from the waitlist every year,” said Henley. “We wanted to make sure to accommodate them, and many if not all, would have been offered admission.”

Officials said they were confident there would be enough space to admit them, because the school was conservative with the number of students it initially admitted for the fall, according to Henley. Sacramento State also had a record number of nearly 9,000 graduates last year, which is 2,000 more than previous years, The State Hornet reported.

“These are still students who are, by definition, fully eligible for admission,” Henley said, adding that the university’s waitlist was originally close to 5,000 students. The 3.500 offered admission were students who notified the school that they were still interested in attending.

University officials anticipate their total enrollment to have increased by 1 percent.

California State University, Sacramento, already limits acceptance into several programs on campus, because of how impacted classes have become in recent years. Students who choose to major in biological sciences, business, criminal justice, graphic design, health science nursing or psychology must meet supplementary admissions criteria to earn degrees. The impacted majors are a direct result of enrollment capacity, according to the university’s website. The university is looking for ways to remove impaction from these programs by increasing capacity and providing more student access.

School officials say they don’t believe that the 500 additional students will have an effect on students’ ability to take classes in their department.

“Certainly, a lot of these students were interested in more popular majors such as health sciences,” Henley said. “We are looking for ways to increase capacity, and we have a lot of great options.”

Henley said if the university could increase capacity in its impacted programs, it could remove the additional requirements.

Several universities have sent emails erroneously admitting students in the past. In January, the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, accidentally sent 430 acceptance letters to applicants, and rescinded the offer.

In 2018, UC Berkeley accidentally sent admissions emails to a small group of students before admissions decisions were made, and announced the decision was not final. Several other campuses, including UCLA, have made similar errors in recent years.

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Sawsan Morrar covers school accountability and culture for The Sacramento Bee. She grew up in Sacramento and is an alumna of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She previously freelanced for various publications including The Washington Post, Vice, KQED and Capital Public Radio.