Rejection letters go paperless

For decades, early April has brought news — whether it was welcome or not — to the mailboxes of thousands of Yale applicants. This year, the suspense is greater than ever, but a rejection notice may not arrive.

To cut costs and to save paper, the Yale Admissions Office will no longer mail out rejection letters if a student has already checked their admission decision online, Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel told the News on Thursday. The decision will save the office the “significant expense” of printing and mailing “more than 20,000” rejection letters first class, he said.

Accepted students will still receive the standard admitted student package, and students given a place on the wait-list will also receive letters, Brenzel said.

Yale will make sure rejected students receive the bad news promptly, Brenzel said. Brenzel said more than 95 percent of Yale applicants check their admissions decisions within 72 hours after they are posted online. If a rejected student does not log onto the decision Web site within 72 hours after decisions are posted, the admissions office will send the applicant an e-mail and also send a letter notifying him or her of their rejection, Brenzel said.

Top University administrators have asked all departments — including undergraduate admissions — to cut costs to make up for a precipitous drop in the value of Yale’s endowment. Ending print mailers for rejected students will help the admissions office save funds.

Yale is not alone in its decision to keep rejection letters online. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology also did not send out rejection letters this year, Dean of Admissions Stuart Schmill said.

Harvard University will still send out paper rejection letters, a Harvard Admissions Office employee said. A Princeton University spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter, saying the admissions office is still busy making decisions.

The move away from paper mailings is not new to Yale, which stopped sending applications to students beginning in 2006. At the time, the News reported that the move may have contributed to a drop in Yale’s applications that year.

But the decision not to mail out rejection letters should have no impact on Yale’s image, said Risa Nye, associated director of college counseling at the private Head Royce School in Oakland, California.

“As long as [the rejection letter] is worded in a way that is not harsh, it doesn’t matter whether the messenger is paper or electronic,” she said.

Students such as Meg Beimfohr at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Mass., are used to checking their mailboxes for Yale admissions decisions. Those mailboxes will still be full for admitted students — and for those who choose not to check their decisions online — but Beimfohr said the University’s decision to stop mailing rejections to all students seems sensible, given the University’s budget cuts.

“When you think of the college experience when you’re young, you think of receiving a letter in the mail, but things have obviously changed,” she said.

Admissions decisions will be posted online on the evening of March 31.


  • Yeah, Right.

    OK all of you poor Yale wanna-be's…time to fall on your collective sword. Remember…you're a complete failure because you didn't get in. You're doomed to become an engineer, machinist, plumber or, even (GASP), a farmer. Gee, you might even have to attend a state university.

    Good luck to those who didn't get in. It's NOT the end of the world.

  • Recent Alum

    "Brenzel said more than 95 percent of Yale applicants check their admissions decisions within 72 hours after they are posted online."

    Huh? Who exactly is the other 5%?

  • Anonymous

    Those who wait 4 the mail maybe?

  • Y'11

    You know… applicants pay a lot of application and test score fees on top of investing much time and effort. Sending a rejection letter and saying "thank you for applying" is the least that can be done. It's like breaking up with someone over text message.

  • yaylie

    Reminds me of all those emails I've been getting rejecting my job applications. Heartless…soulless…

  • Yale alum

    Harvard is right. Brenzell, for a price, is representing Yale as a $$ avalanche, not a 300+ year place of higher education. Is this what happens when you start believing you are entitled to investment income?

  • Anonymous

    My question is will Yale send out paper advertisements to attract applicants? It is one thing to save paper in many places like applications and rejection letters. But if Yale is promoting itself still with paper while refusing to send paper rejection letters, I think that is kind of cold.

  • Anonymous

    @ #4: It might seem heartless to not send paper letters, but the only thing worse than seeing that rejection online is being reminded of a few days later, just as you've gotten over it.

  • David L

    Good luck to everyone hoping to get in!

  • never a YaleWannabe

    yale's right. no rejection letter, please.It'll be just a waste of money n time. save da woods!hope harvard & Princeton will do da same thing next year. Besides, it 's best to not hurt a person twice.

  • Y11

    This is rather classless, Yale. The text message breakup is a perfect analogy.

  • vern

    Will the application fee be reduced now that the expense of a rejection letter has been eliminated?

  • Anon

    I've always thought it was sort of cruel for someone to eagerly check online right away only to be disappointed, and then have the letter arrive a couple days later as a second slap in the face.

  • treehugger

    It seems that the whole environmental aspect of saving paper has been overlooked.

    Hooray for saving trees.

  • Y '10

    Jeez…when you send in your resume for a job it's usually assumed they don't want you if you don't hear anything back.

    Those applicants not worthy to step within our hallowed halls should learn from the beginning not to expect the time, energy or financial resources of the chosen elite.

  • Alum '08

    To the naysayers:

    Brenzel, like every other department head, has to cut the budget by 7.5%. Would you really rather we maintain paper rejections and cut wages for secretaries? Or get rid of an administrative assistant or two? This is a great way to chip away at expenses without sacrificing anything.

  • Anonymous

    1. Should application fees be reduced?

    No. There is a fee waiver for those who cannot afford it. Again cutting costs so that people are not fired.

    2. Should they send paper rejections?

    No. Brenzel's plan is good because it prepares rejectees for the harsh reality--LIFE

    Yale's move is not classless--it is intelligent and flexible. We MUST change and adjust for the difficult times ahead.

  • Yale '12

    @Y'10 (#15) - I hope that's sarcasm.

  • Anonymous

    Yale needs to get over its insecurity and stop trying to be Harvard.

  • Student

    It seems pretty inequitable to me that Yale asks students to pay $70 to send in an application and won't do them the service of sending a $0.43 back telling them they don't have space for them in the incoming class.

  • Anonymous

    To #20-

    They're still sending letters to the wait-listed students, as far as I can tell. They are really the ones there wasn't room for.

    If all you think it means to be rejected from Yale is that there "wasn't space" for that person, you live in a silly world. What it means is that that person didn't meet the same standards of qualification as the accepted and even the wait-listed students.

    The idea that Yale "owes" anyone a paper rejection letter indicates a very entitled way of thinking. Yale's only real obligation is to notify people of the decision--and yes, it is painful to read that news, but life is painful sometimes, and many of these people will go to top schools anyway--and it sounds like they're taking care to make sure everyone is notified.

  • tiny elvis


  • Jon K. (BK ' 78)

    I told my daughter to apply to Harvard so that she can add to the collection of rejection letters accumulated by me, my brother, my wife, and my wife's brother.

    Jon K. (BK ' 78)


    what the commotion is about I dont kno but whether u get it by mail or email, one thing is for sure…no No NO….Yale is smart on that…i wish all other schools would do the same…when do they usually send out rejection email???