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Stanford rejects applicants who used hack

Stanford's business school joined its counterparts at Harvard and MIT in rejecting applicants who tried to use a hacker's instructions to find out their admissions status ahead of schedule.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Stanford University's Graduate School of Business has rejected 41 applicants who tried to access an admissions Web site earlier this year in hopes of learning their fate ahead of schedule.

School officials said the applicants were given the opportunity to explain why they attempted to gain access to their admissions files before the date when the university was to tell them if they were admitted.

"At the end of the day, we didn't hear any stories that we thought were compelling enough to counterbalance the act," said Robert Joss, dean of the business school.

Admissions sites of at least six schools were accessed by applicants for about 10 hours in early March after a hacker posted instructions in a BusinessWeek Online forum.

The instructions told people to log onto their admissions Web page and find their identification numbers in source material that was available on the site. By plugging those numbers into another Web page address, they were directed to a page where their admissions decision would be found.

Some applicants saw blank pages and others viewed rejection letters before access was denied.

Within a week of the incident, Harvard University announced it would reject 119 applicants for following the hacker's instructions and visiting the school's admissions site. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology followed suit, rejecting 32 applicants.

Stanford had decided not to take action until hearing the applicants' explanations, but in the end they, too, lost out. The 41 Stanford applicants did not find out their admissions status at the time, as the university had not posted its decisions yet, Joss said.

The school admits just 8 percent of those who apply to the business school each year, so "it's a low probability of getting in anyway," Joss said.