This spring, thousands of graduating high school seniors accepted offers of admission to the University of California, Irvine. They made it through a competitive selection process – 36 percent of those who applied were accepted, racking up mean grade point averages between 4.0 and 4.25.

Incoming freshmen from California and states across the country prepared to start the fall semester at UC Irvine at the end of September.

Then, only two months before the beginning of their college classes, 499 incoming students were notified that their acceptances had been revoked.

Many were told they had failed to deliver their final high school transcripts on time, or had inadequate grades during their senior year. Others complained that admissions staff gave them petty or confusing reasons, or no justification at all for rescinding their admissions. The unexpected reversals forced hundreds of students to appeal the decisions or look for other options for the upcoming school year.

“This was really heartbreaking for me,” Simran Chopra, 18, of Los Angeles told the Orange County Register, asserting that she mailed the university her transcript before the July 1 deadline. When she found out her admission was pulled, she said, she locked herself in a bathroom and cried.

On Friday, after significant student protest, UC Irvine’s Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Thomas A. Parham published an explanation for the decisions, which he acknowledged were “disappointing and frightening” to many affected students.

This year, Parham said, the university was faced with “unprecedented demand” from prospective students, receiving 104,000 applications. This was the third highest number of applications at any college nationwide, he said. Moreover, the number of accepted students who decided to enroll for fall classes was higher than anticipated.

About 7,100 admitted freshman students registered for fall classes as of May, the Los Angeles Times reported. That’s 850 more students than UC Irvine had planned for.

And as a result of the over-enrollment, the university took a more stringent approach to the terms and conditions that are outlined in every incoming student’s provisional admissions offer, including submitting transcripts and test scores by a certain deadline and upholding adequate grades through the end of senior year.

Though these contractual terms and conditions are in place every year, “I acknowledge that we took a harder line on the terms and conditions this year and we could have managed that process with greater care, sensitivity, and clarity about available options,” Parham said.

Tom Vasich, interim media relations director, clarified Sunday that the university is not withdrawing offers to any students because more students accepted admissions than planned.

“Students had their provisional approvals withdrawn because full transcripts and test scores were not submitted in time or because of poor senior grades,” Vasich said.

He said it is “upsetting” and “damaging” that students and some media outlets have framed the withdrawals as the direct result of over-enrollment.