Students dropped from classes days before school began

When it comes to college admissions, students know that the bigger the envelope the better. But even after receiving a thick envelope containing a letter of acceptance, Bernardo Balbuena Simonard, a transfer student from City College of San Francisco, is one of nearly 300 students who had their admissions to SF State rescinded this semester.

“Last week I was still enrolled in 15 units,” Simonard said Aug. 26. “I woke up to start my first day at a new school, anxious about my 15-unit course load, just to find out I had been dropped during the weekend, with no prior notice.”

Below the bold “Congratulations!” printed at the top, a statement in fine print explains that most admissions are conditional, and regardless of how many classes students add and fees they pay, many are dropped just days before school begins. This semester, almost 300 students had their admissions rescinded, according to Jo Volkert, interim vice president of enrollment management.

Simonard, a 28-year-old political science student, said he was eager to start his junior year at SF State. To prioritize his academics, Simonard said he altered his entire work schedule around his classes. However, his elation was short lived.

Simonard learned he failed to meet the critical thinking requirement as part of his admissions offer, and when he reached out to SF State for advice over the summer, was offered no help, he said.

“The impression I was given was that nobody really knows what’s going on,” he said. “Why are there no emails or calls explaining what’s going to happen?”

Time is of the essence when admissions staff contacts applicants who are subject to having their admission offer revoked, according to Edward Carrigan, interim director of undergraduate admissions.

“When a student surfaces as ineligible, that student is contacted by email immediately,” Carrigan said. “If undergrad admissions does not hear back from the student, the admission offer is rescinded.”

The deadline for final transcript submissions was July 15, and students who failed to meet admission requirements prior to first day of instruction are allowed apply again the following semester, Carrigan said.

Bernardo Balbuena Simonard, political science major was one of about 300 students who had their admissions to SF State rescinded. He poses for a portrait at his home in Park Merced, Sunday Aug. 30. (James Chan / Xpress)

Bernardo Balbuena Simonard, political science major was one of about 300 students who had their admissions to SF State rescinded. He poses for a portrait at his home in Park Merced, Sunday Aug. 30. (James Chan / Xpress)

“We do our best to be as humane as possible. We want all students to succeed here,” Carrigan said. “When documents are received late, we do what we can to review them and appropriately guide the student. Timely submission of final transcripts would be the surest way for a student to know early that requirements for admission are met.”

Freshman student and business major Earvin Ferrer, 17, said he had his admission revoked due to a low chemistry grade during his sophomore year of high school.

“There was a conditional admission for something else, but that was completely separate from what this chemistry class was for. I completed the conditions and I thought that after that I was really accepted, but I guess not,” Ferrer said. “Exactly a week before school started I got an email from an admissions officer saying that my admission was rescinded and that there was nothing I could do about it.”

Ferrer, who was only a few days away from moving out of his hometown of San Ramon, said that his parents had bought a car for him to share with his brother, who also lives in San Francisco.

“I was living at home and I was getting ready to move out in a couple of days,” he said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the housemates, because that would be an extra $150 for them to cover for me if I wasn’t able to attend.”

A week before school began, both Ferrer and his mother sent emails to the undergraduate admissions office appealing the denial, he said. On Aug. 24, the dean of admissions contacted Ferrer by email to let him know he had been readmitted to SF State.

“The dean of admissions said that they had made an exception,” Ferrer said. “I’m not sure how that was made, but luckily it was.”

Unlike Ferrer, who was readmitted to SF State on the first day of instruction, Simonard said it seemed he was going to be left without a school to attend this semester.

“So now what do I do? Essentially I’m going to lose a whole academic year,” Simonard said Aug. 26. “They made sure I paid all my fees first, then they told me it didn’t work out. I want my money back.”

It wasn’t until Friday, when the first week of school had come to an end, that Simonard said he had been readmitted to SF State.

“I had been keeping in touch with the department chair since July. By Friday I got an email from admissions saying he had appealed on my behalf, and I got an exceptional admission,” Simonard said. “I was grateful for this help and, in general, happy I can move on and follow up with SF State.”

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