As "huge" as this mistake feels to you right now, take comfort in the fact that thousands of college applicants over the eons are guilty of similar screw-ups, and that admission officials are sympathetic to your situation. You didn't torpedo your acceptance odds with this snafu, but there is some damage control ahead.
It's not clear to "The Dean" if two colleges received another school's essay or just one. (And it's also not clear how you even managed to do this, since most supplemental essays are right in the online application. Perhaps you copied the essay from your files and then pasted it in the wrong place?) But regardless of what caused this mini-crisis, simply send a brief and apologetic email that explains your error, with the proper essay attached, to whichever college — or colleges — received an incorrect essay. Direct your message to the main admission address with a Cc to your regional rep. (This is the staff member who oversees applicants from your high school, and — if you don't know who it is — look on the website or call the admission office.)
College admission officials understand that students must apply to more than one college, and they won't hold it against you for aiming for a competitor school. But if a college that received the wrong essay is actually your first choice, your correction email is a great place to say so!
About the Ask the Dean Column
Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean please email us at email@example.com.
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