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Advice on a clerical error on grad school applications

  1. Jan 27, 2012 #1
    Ok, so this is about my fiancee but it concerns us both since our future is, well together and whatnot.

    So ETS (the organization that runs the GRE exams) majorly screwed up with her official GRE scores. They misspelled her name and reversed the digits of her date of birth on the official GRE scores that she had sent to the programs she is applying to. The information she provided when she took the tests is correct, as is the information when it is displayed on the ETS site when she logs in to view her account.

    We have talked to representatives from ETS on the phone and they have assured us that the correct spellings and dates will be re-mailed to the schools, but it takes ETS almost a month to process these requests and to mail them.

    The problem is that a few of the PhD and masters programs she applied to have found these inconsistencies and have held reviewing her application. Most of her application deadlines were back on January 1st (which she had all of them in with time to spare). She had the scores sent back in November and until just this week we had no idea of the clerical mistakes that ETS had made (because two of the schools contacted her about the GRE reports not matching her transcripts, application, CV, etc...)

    We are a bit worried that it will take quite a while for ETS to send replacement copies (or that they still may have errors) and the graduate programs will still refuse to review and make a decision on her applications. Granted, it's only two programs that have raised this red flag so far, but we can only assume that all of the programs she applied to were sent bad copies.

    Any advice on how to go about this? Any actual profs who have been on admissions committees care to comment? I'm a bit surprised that they are waiting however long it takes for ETS to send replacements ... that could be until early March ... after when the would have made their decisions on the normal applicant pool she should be in.

    We're just worried that this will delay her application from being processed by the schools until after everybody else has been admitted and/or she won't receive any financial aid (for the masters programs).
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2012 #2


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    Has she contacted the schools that she's applied to to explain the error?

    I think her best bet is to contact them, explain the situation, and provide the schools with her actual scores - even if she can only do that informally. Beyond that and waiting, I'm not sure there is too much she can do.
  4. Jan 27, 2012 #3
    Well, she has contacted just the two schools. Actually it was two of the programs who both contacted her today about this (some coincidence) and she was talking to them about the situation after she had contacted ETS. They have her scores and screen shots of her GRE score report page ... but it's not official.

    The problem is the schools' policies where they are not going to consider her application until all the official documents are complete. So far, they seem rather uncompromising on this issue (although it's just been a day of communication with both of the programs). Now that her official GRE scores sent by ETS are "not valid" she evidently has an "incomplete" application. So by the time it's "complete" she'll have long since missed the deadlines for being considered for financial aid (in the case of the masters programs), or have already been passed over since decisions on PhD admissions are made by mid February ... before ETS will have corrected their mistakes.

    We haven't notified any of the other 6 programs mainly because we didn't know about the error until today. I'm not sure if we should say anything to those programs who haven't said anything (or probably haven't noticed). She has a 3.95 GPA from an ivy league school, adequate preparation, stellar recommendations, etc... I don't know if we want to risk having the rest of her grad school apps jeopardized due to typos on ETS's part.
  5. Jan 27, 2012 #4
    Do contact the other schools ASAP- many schools won't tell you if you have an incomplete application. Call, and ask each school if your application is complete and submitted correctly. You don't have to point put the specific problems if that makes you nervous, but verify the status everywhere!

    I had this happen to me several years ago(scores were sent to incorrect schools by ets. The way I found out was a school I did not apply to contacted me to tell me that my application was incomplete, they only had my GREs!) The way I resolved it was to have a three way call with ets and the schools. On a positive note, I was able to get some test fees refunded.
  6. Jan 28, 2012 #5
    Thanks for the replies you two. I'll let Debra know she should probably contact the other schools and at least confirm if her materials are complete. I know a few of them sent confirmations already saying her apps were complete, but still I'm sure that won't hurt.

    All this will wait until Monday though, so who knows, I certainly don't mind more advice. I think it was really stressing her out a lot this afternoon/evening to think that because of ETS's mistake that she might not get funding or be wait listed or who knows. I'm just glad the two programs that contacted her were not her top choices.
  7. Feb 13, 2012 #6
    Thanks for the replies, just as an update, I advised Debra to call the schools to confirm that her apps were complete and that they had received official GRE scores. It appears that they only screwed up one of her score reports.

    I'm not sure how something like that happens since she ordered them all at the same time and they went out together ... like how do you send 7 correct ones and 1 with the name spelled incorrectly (but obviously the same person) and the birth date digits all mixed up? Do people sit around and type these by hand from a computer screen onto "official paper" with a typewriter? shouldn't it just be digitally printed via the info on their database ... and all of the copies be the same?

    Anyway, good news is that by calling and following up with all of them (even though their online status was complete for every school), she found out that one of her applications was "incomplete" because her transcripts only had up to the spring semester (since her fall 2011 semester ended in mid December). This was one of the early PhD apps (Dec 1 deadline) and evidently they marked hers as incomplete because she didn't report fall grades (which didn't come out until the Friday before MLK jr. day in mid January).

    They didn't tell her nor follow up with her about it, but you'd think a PhD program would do so or at least tell applicants to send transcripts after fall grades if your deadline is the end of November, what school has fall semester grades finalized and ready to send before Thanksgiving?
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