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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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December 18, 2014



As a parent of one of these students, I know that my son was very hurt when he got rejected a second time. He was also further embarrassed by having to call friends and relatives to tell them that he didn't get in after just telling them the opposite. He also had to remove Facebook posts about his acceptance. In addition he lost two days of preparing other applications because he wasn't ready to deal with the admission process after receiving the JHU emails.

I was very upset that Johns Hopkins never really apologized for the mistake. I assume that the same contractor who made the original mistake was the one who sent the poor apology letter. At first, all I wanted to see was an apology similar to what you described in your article from a proper school official, but after thinking about it for several days, I believe that the application fee should also be reimbursed since the school didn’t handle the application process properly.

It’s a shame that JHU has made a bad situation worse with their insensitivity. Talking only through the media when pressed is not a way to make amends. Maybe they should also refund the JHU gear that my son purchased since he won’t wear any of it again.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Dear Larry,

Thank you for describing your son's painful experience. As I mentioned, my daughter went through the admissions process recently, and I can easily imagine how bad your son felt.

I like your suggestion of a way for Johns Hopkins to make reparations. Refunding the application fee would be an appropriate way to make up for the cruel, albeit unintentional, treatment your son and others received.

Again, thanks for commenting from your experience.



Hi Lynn,

I've been reading and enjoying your blog for about a year now and have learned a lot! Please know that the college and hospital are named after their benefactor, Johns Hopkins. The pesky s on Johns is often left off. :) Happy holidays!

Martha Ray

Hi Lynn, I agree with your sentiments on their apology falling short in the worst way, in all four parts. You wrote a beautiful explanation that begs to be shared. I also agree that the admission fee should be refunded as a way to make reparation to the affected students. Thanks for your informative and useful blog - I always enjoy seeing it in my inbox.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi AJ,

Thanks for your helpful comment. Johns Hopkins it is!


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Martha,

Your comment warmed my heart. Thank you for your positive words.


George Raymond

Everyone makes mistakes, so everyone needs to know how to apologize.

Doctor Shadow

On one hand, I'm not sure the university had much of a choice. They couldn't realistically have granted any resolution that would have made the students any less disheartened. It's an unfortunate mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.

On the other hand, this event merely highlights the high disregard with which many medical schools hold applicants. The admissions process has cultivated a tradition of "circus shows" that put aspiring medical students on the center stage.

For example, they couldn't even muster the decency to send an individual letter to each candidate - instead they gave the job to an outside party. Furthermore, when did email become the standard of formal communication? It costs less than $1 to print/sign a letter (with postage). If that amount of money is an issue, the school has bigger financial troubles to deal with.

In short, it was a blatant display of unprofessional conduct.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

I agree that the mistake and the "apology" were unprofessional.


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