Is a college admissions police force a new trend in elite college admissions? While the very idea may seem ridiculous, in a recent article published in The Wall Street Journal, “Admissions Police Bolster Efforts to Uncover Fraud,” Jon Weinbach discusses the notion of college admissions officers debating whether or not they should be policing college admissions applications. And what does he mean by policing? As Weinbach writes, “Before mailing out acceptance and rejection letters over the past week, thousands of colleges and graduate schools conducted their usual reviews of test scores, transcripts, and essays. But less publicly, admissions officers focused on something else: police databases, plagiarism checks, and reports by private-investigators.”
Most Students Are Honest on Their College Applications
In our experience, most students are honest when sharing information on their college applications, but every now and then a student will ask us if they can embellish, for example, the hours per week or weeks per year that they spend on an activity. Or if they can say they were the president of a particular club when in fact they were not. Or if they can say they invented some amazing gadget. Or if they could say they spent the summer cleaning Yala National Park in Sri Lanka. Our answer, of course, is always the same. No, no, no. Applicants do not want to risk being denied admission because they lied on their applications, irrespective of how small that lie may seem to them at the time. Not to mention…it’s just not right!
Lies on College Applications Can Easily Be Discovered
One has to assume that a lie or an inconsistency on a college application can be found out. Let’s suppose that a student writes on their application that as a member of the school’s chess club, she’s involved 20 hours per week and 40 weeks per year. Then another student from the student’s school applies to the same college(s) and says that as a member of the same chess club, he is involved only 5 hours per week and 20 weeks per year. While it might be easier to believe the applicant who includes less time on his activity sheet, it’s just as easy for an admissions officer to call the school and speak with the school counselor who can then speak with the advisor of the chess club to find out the truth.
Universities Are Already Implementing College Admissions Policing Methods
Sometimes it’s those insignificant details that can make a difference between an acceptance or a denial. In his article, Weinbach goes on to share the story of how the Haas School of Business at the University of California – Berkeley implemented a system to address deceit in its admissions process. As he writes, “Admissions officials at the Haas School of Business at UC-Berkeley saw the desperation firsthand. In 2003, admissions director Jeff Pihakis tried to call an applicant to tell her she had gained admission. After several failed attempts, he reached a woman who gave him a cell phone number for the applicant. Looking again at the file, he saw the number he’d just been given matched the number the applicant had listed for a purported boss. That led Mr. Pihakis to uncover other fabrications, including false job titles and fake stationery for the sham company. The admissions staff ultimately investigated all 100 of the students it had admitted, uncovering four more applicants who had misrepresented themselves…The next summer, Kroll approached the school about providing background checks. Since then, all accepted students have had to pass an ’employment and background verification’ — and pay a $65 fee — before enrolling. In the past four years, only one has been rejected. ‘We were hoping it would be a deterrent,’ says Mr. Pihakis. ‘And it has been.'”
Lying in College Admissions Is Wrong and North Worth It
And if a student is lucky enough to earn admission to a college with fabrications or exaggerations on their application, well, they’re not off the hook for their lies. Remember how in the WB series Felicity, Ben was worried that lying about the death of his brother — who didn’t even exist — in his Personal Statement could, if it were to be discovered, get him kicked out of the University of New York (side note: New York University didn’t give permission to the WB show to use its name so the producers ran with University of New York!)? Who wants to have to worry about such lies being uncovered? Who wants to live in a state of fear? So just don’t do it. Be candid when answering personal application information questions. Be candid when reporting test scores. Be candid in all college essays. Be candid during college interviews. Just tell the truth and then you’ll have nothing at all to worry about. The truth will set you free!
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