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You could call it the modern-day acceptance letter. Northwestern University School of Law is bucking the decades-old tradition of sending the highly-anticipated letters of acceptance or the dreaded letters of denial through the U.S. Postal Service, opting instead for using the Internet to e-mail them to students. Northwestern sent its first bulk of roughly 5,000 e-mails out in the spring of 2005-a move that saved it loads of time used for stuffing envelopes, and at least $2,500 in postage and stationery. More than 4,000 denials and wait list letters went out; 800 students got in. “It’s incredibly efficient. It saves us the time of having to stuff the letters and mail out the letters,” said Don Rebstock, associate dean of enrollment at the law school. “It also cuts down on costs in terms of stationery and postage.” Other law schools, however, are a little skeptical, recalling the incident that took place in February at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. The admissions office there mistakenly e-mailed as many as 7,000 applicants notices that implied they had been admitted to the law school. The e-mail was supposed to be an invitation to a reception to be held for the 500 students who had received early admission. The director of admissions accidentally e-mailed it out to thousands more while a new employee was being trained to use the admissions office computer system. “It was kind of ugly,” recalled Ann Perry, dean of admissions at the University of Chicago Law School, who is wary about sending law school offers through the Internet. “I still like the personal touch to the letter . . . and nowadays, it’s kind of special to get something in the U.S. mail with a stamp.” Fear of mistakes And there’s also that fear of making a mistake, Perry added. “There’s always my fear I’ll send it to the wrong person,” she said. Sarah Zearfoss, assistant dean of admissions at the University of Michigan Law School, shared similar concerns. “Every year, we hear about mistakes that get made by sending e-mails to the wrong person. I just would always be so anxious about that possibility,” Zearfoss said, adding she prefers the mailed letters. But who wants to hang out by the mailbox day after day when you can just check your e-mail, asked Michael Blue, a first-year law student at Northwestern who got his e-mail in January telling him that he had been accepted. “Everything seems to be going the electronic way these days,” Blue said, adding that he didn’t mind not getting the traditional notification letter in the mail. “I guess in the end, you just want to get to that information-the offer-as soon as you can. Whether its opening up an envelope, or opening up an e-mail.”

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