Teen rejects college rejection in viral tongue-in-cheek letter

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Siobhan O'Dell/AP

HIGH POINT, NC -- When high school senior Siobhan O'Dell got rejected from Duke University, she thought it'd be funny to give them a taste of its own medicine. So she sent them a letter to inform them that she could not accept their rejection.

Though the letter is meant to be lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek, she told ABC that the idea came from some real emotions she and her classmates have gone through while applying to colleges.

"Seniors labor over their applications, stress over waiting, and sometimes even cry over the answer," she said. "It made me realize how much power these universities have over us. Their word is final and absolute."

That's why she decided to write back.

"But what if they got a taste of their own medicine? What if students held as much power as them?" she said she wondered.

So she turned the process on its head, sending Duke University a letter that read, "I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me admission."

The letter mimics the language used in college rejection letters. O'Dell goes on to explain that she has seen rejection letters from the "best and brightest universities in the country. With a pool of letters so diverse and accomplished I was unable to accept reject letters I would have been able to only several years ago."

Because of this, she joked in the letter, she'd have to attend Duke in the fall.

"I look forward to seeing you then," she finished.

Yes, she said. She actually sent it to the admissions office.

"They replied very professionally saying they were sorry I was disappointed with their decision and told me the steps on how to ask for a repeal of their decision," she said. "I wasn't really expecting a response, but it was generous of them to do so."

The University has no hard feelings, they said.

"We wish her well," Keith Lawrence, the executive director of the University's News and Communications office, told ABC.

Little did O'Dell know that her letter would get shared more than 100,000 times on Tumblr.

"My idea for the Duke rejection rejection letter wasn't originally something I thought many people would see," she explained. "The public response to my letter has been a little shocking. I posted it thinking 5 or 6 of my friends would get a good laugh out of it."

O'Dell said she wishes she had proofread the letter. The attention, though, has been mostly positive, and she is glad her letter made people laugh.

And in case you're wondering, she has accepted an acceptance letter, too. Next fall she'll be a Gamecock at The University of South Carolina.

Photo used with permission.