La di da-OH GOD
February 23, 2011 6:01 AM   Subscribe

I absolutely shot myself in the foot, academically, with an email intended for my boyfriend gone awry to the wrong recipient -Admissions at the school I applied to. Is there anything I can do to remedy the situation? (Caution, this is a trainwreck)

I feel like an absolute and utter idiot. This all happened yesterday.

I applied to a very selective, associate's degree technical program in my state. There is only one institution with multiple campuses within driving distance of my home, as well as some 2+ hours away. I live in a very rural state and this is really the only program I can apply to without moving, which is part of the reason it is so competitive. I was prepared to spend the next few years applying and bettering myself as a candidate until I got in.

I didn't get into the program, and I received a letter saying that if I wished to consider other campuses then I should email admissions. I did email admissions and asked what I could do to be a more attractive candidate for next year, and I also said that I was willing to move to attend one of their campuses.

I forwarded the email to my boyfriend to keep him in the loop, and then as an afterthought I replied something to the effect of, "I wouldn't really move, I just thought it sounded good" because I wasn't ready to have the moving conversation with him.

Well fuck a duck: Caught up in the gmail thread, I accidentally replied to admissions.

I spent the next two minutes frantically googling to see if I could unsend an email in gmail (nope, didn't have the Lab enabled, but now I do - a little to late) and then I called admissions. I explained to the receptionist that I had accidentally sent a personal email to them with the subject line "abc" and if she could please delete it. She said that she saw it and she would go ahead and delete it.

I am making myself sick with worry. What if she saw it, and decided to keep it? What if she erased the TWO emails, because their email program keeps them as a thread? I want them to have the first email!

I am a really "together" person and have spent the last two years preparing for this program. I can't believe I did something so stupid. I feel like my future is over. Does anyone have any advice for how I could make myself feel better? Is there anything else I could do to mend this situation?
posted by pintapicasso to Education (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
there's no reason that the receptionist wouldn't delete your personal email, so you are just going to have to believe that she did. as for the first email that you want them to receive, i would just resend the content again, just in case.
posted by violetk at 6:04 AM on February 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

Oh noes! I would freak too!

Take a deep breath, trust that the receptionist did what she said and proceed as if none of it happened. If you don't hear back from them in a "normal" time frame, send it again (minus the commentary, of course) and cross your fingers.

This is all out of your control so do what you can and keep on moving.

I hope it all works out for you.
posted by Mysticalchick at 6:09 AM on February 23, 2011

Also, even if the admissions committee saw your email, it's not the first time that someone's said something to them just because "it sounded good".
posted by Mercaptan at 6:20 AM on February 23, 2011

At work, I've been responsible for a series of mass e-mailing lately and I can tell you that about 2% of actual professionals with actual PhDs do this, many of their messages far less politic than yours. People will forget about it much sooner than you think.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:22 AM on February 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Even if this has taken you out of consideration for this year -- which is possible (not certain) -- no one will remember it for next year when you apply again.

You should resend the email -- read it over again, change the subject line, add a note explaining why you are resending it -- and then take a deep breath. This has not ruined your entire future.
posted by jeather at 6:32 AM on February 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I feel like my future is over.

is absolutely not the case. I know it feels like it right now, but everything will be fine, even if you don't get into this program. Sometimes I follow out a worst-case scenario to its bitter end, just to make myself realize I'm being catastrophic and those things aren't going to happen, and then I feel better.

Send the original email again, follow up, and hope for the best. If you don't get in this year, try again, or try something else.
posted by cooker girl at 6:43 AM on February 23, 2011

I agree with the above advice: resend the e-mail. Say something like, "due to technical problems on my end, I am resending this e-mail." I wouldn't refer to the previous conversation with the receptionist.

Chances are she did what you asked. Even if she did see the content of the e-mail you accidentally sent, she's so busy at this time of year she's not going to have mentioned it to anyone.

No one will remember come next year, and I don't think they would even know or care about it when alternates for this year are considered.
posted by vincele at 6:43 AM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can't speak for the receptionist, obviously, but at my job I am the first person to see applications, and if I had gotten your request for deletion, I would have done so immediately and with no second thought - especially since she said she would, I would take her at her word. Also, there are usually many people and many steps involved before the decision makers get the final applications, and it is highly unlikely they would have any clue about your slip up with the email. Just remember that although it is a huge deal to you, it's probably just the tiniest blip on the radar to the office - you should be fine.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 6:55 AM on February 23, 2011 [7 favorites]

Your future is not over, rest assured. Think about the application process. Schools ask for very specific materials for making their decisions about admissions. They do this so that they can compare candidates objectively and easily. Just about the last thing that anyone on an admissions committee is going to want to do is read things that they did not specifically ask for. The idea that next year's admissions committee is going to stop reading your file, dig out an old email that was not even sent to them, and then base a decision on that email is, to try to put it a little gently, implausible.
That said, the admissions process really sucks, and I can appreciate how frazzled you must feel. This email is not the end of your career: it's not even a blip. So do your best over the next year to improve your application. Good luck.
posted by pickypicky at 6:56 AM on February 23, 2011

Wait a few days and send the information again in a different thread. It happens, you'll be ok, you'll look back on this and laugh. Stop with the catastrophe language like "my future is over."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:59 AM on February 23, 2011

If they use Outlooks as their email program (and chances are incredibly good that they do), deleting the one email will not delete a "thread". The admissions office will see the original email and nothing else. Forgive yourself and move on. And double-check your reply-to and forward fields in the future.
posted by litnerd at 7:06 AM on February 23, 2011

The receptionist said she would delete it? I think the problem is solved. If this is the kind of place where administrative staff is allowed/encouraged to lie to people about these types of things, then you've got bigger issues.

Send the original again, and add "(resending)" to the subject line so it doesn't get threaded with the other information.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:09 AM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

No one will remember by next year. I barely remember student names from semester to semester and I only deal with (up to) 150 at a time, not thousands.

I accidentally mass-texted some personal medical details intended for my husband last week to, um, a whole lot of people. I thought I would DIE of embarrassment. In fact, the only people who mentioned it were friends saying, "Oh, God, you'll never believe what I did, this one time I hit 'reply all' to my office when bitching about my boss to my best friend ..."

What I learned from this is that a) EVERYONE in the universe has done it and most people are pretty sympathetic; b) most people just laugh briefly and move on and don't hold it against you; c) everyone forgets pretty quickly; and d) even in the situations where people sent REALLY HORRIBLE things to their entire offices, it was typically ignored, papered over, and forgotten; in no situation I was told about was anyone retaliated against or anything. In the boss case mentioned above the boss just raised an eyebrow and said to the woman, "Be a little more careful with your e-mails?" She, mortified, agreed and did so and it was forgotten and she actually remained on good terms with her boss and worked there several more years.

I don't think yours is that bad, honestly, from the little collection of "horrifying e-mail/text missends" I gathered last week.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:22 AM on February 23, 2011

I have been on every side of this. I have been in the receptionist's position (working as a paralegal, where I deleted the email (opened it and read the first line to the person who sent it to confirm it's the right email, then deleted it and never spoke/thought of it again). I have sent something to my dad intending to send it to my boyfriend. I have sent things to a boyfriend's mom intending to send it to the boyfriend. I have sent an email to someone I hated, jokingly speculating on the amount of crack they were smoking, intending to send it to a friend of mine. Aside from me having to eat crow and apologize to the person I hated, all of these situations have turned out just fine. Embarrassed as hell, yes, but it's been OK.

It happens. I believe that the receptionist actually did as she said, because I have been there and there is nothing to gain from not deleting the email. I would re-send the original email if I were you, perhaps stating at the beginning that there was a mix-up with email addresses and you wanted to be sure they have your statement.

And relax! It's going to be ok. :)
posted by phunniemee at 7:56 AM on February 23, 2011

The receptionist did as she said. Resend the correct email with a brief note at the beginning saying that you were resending it because of tech problems. Everything will be as though you'd never made this very minor mistake.

And nobody in admissions cares whether you were telling them the truth about moving to wherever; even if they had seen that (which they didn't), it's absolutely no big deal to them, because if you don't take a slot there, there are other people waiting for it. Even if they had seen it (which they didn't), they wouldn't have had hurt feelings about it or blacklisted you or whatever horrifying fate you fear. At most, they would have laughed at your error and moved on to the millions of other things they had to do that day.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:13 AM on February 23, 2011

Echoing all the above. If this is the super-embarrassing email mishap that will teach you always to check and double-check before hitting "send," you got off easy! I've done much worse.

Trust the receptionist, and put it out of your mind. From what you say, she was already aware of the situation when you called, and chances are she's a decent human being, has seen similar before, and was happy to do you the favor of deleting.

Truly, don't worry about it for one more moment.
posted by torticat at 11:03 AM on February 23, 2011

Also, for future reference, gmail has a handy "undo send" feature which has saved me twice. It holds your email back for five seconds which is long enough to hit PANIC!
posted by salishsea at 12:45 PM on February 23, 2011

The worst I can imagine is a bunch, no, actually, maybe a couple of people in admissions going "you'll never believe what this student did." But if this institute is anything like mine, we're not allowed to keep emails like that, let alone make admissions decisions based on them. Seriously, don't worry about it. Unfortunately, you are only a number to admissions. Really. They don't care.
posted by b33j at 12:53 PM on February 23, 2011

Best advice I ever heard on the subject: take everything out of the TO and CC boxes while you compose the email, and add your recipient at the very end.
posted by itheearl at 6:20 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

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