By Thomas Hair
As you fill out the application for your dream college, it is so incredibly easy to lie, to twist the truth to gain an edge over the competition.
The pressure to be accepted to selective universities, whether it’s from parents or elsewhere, is stronger now than ever – and many students are giving in. If a student is not confident that their high school résumé will impress the almighty admissions directors, an increasingly common reaction is to tweak the facts here and there to give off an overall better impression.
Some students mark that they completed 200 service hours when they really only completed 75. Some students claim to have been active members of Spanish Club and NHS despite attending only a single meeting. Some students dream up leadership positions for themselves that never existed. Anything is worth it to get into that dream school, right?
Wrong. Though you may think there’s no way a college could ever find out that you weren’t really an editor on The Sidekick, efforts to detect applications with false information have been growing.
Universities now meticulously check every applicant’s transcript, recommendation letters, GPA and test scores. If you bump up your GPA a few points or list a higher SAT score, you will get caught.
Where the vast majority of lying students get caught red-handed, however, is the part of the application that asks for your extracurricular activities, awards and leadership positions. Students feel obligated to exaggerate their outside of school accomplishments if their academic performance in school was less than stellar.
It is much harder for colleges to verify this information for every applicant. In the past, colleges would simply check for inconsistencies between application and the counselor’s recommendation letter and make sure there were no glaringly obvious lies. But students today are much better liars and colleges have started to take notice.
Today, admissions directors take a small percentage of all the applications and thoroughly double check those. They may contact your counselor, your teachers or anyone who can confirm your claims. Your application’s chance of being selected for verification is small, but lying is simply not worth the consequences. If busted, you will immediately be rejected from that college and blacklisted from any that find out. Colleges take dishonesty very seriously. Depending on the severity of the lies, you could end up without any college options or even be charged with fraud. It’s happened before – to students like me and you.
CHS, if you lie on your applications you will probably be among the thousands of students who lie their way into college every year – but you could also be one of the few whose futures are ruined. Is it really worth the risk? Do you really want to start the next chapter of your life with a lie?
It’s a bad habit to start. Cheating always finds a way to catchy up with people. If you lie in college, you get suspended or, most likely, kicked out of school. College is not like high school – they don’t have to keep you in school. And if you are caught lying in your career, you could struggle to get another decent job ever again.
If you are not confident enough in who you are and what you’ve accomplished in high school to be honest on your application, you probably don’t deserve to be admitted to your dream school in the first place.
Cheating in the college admissions process is different than cheating on a test. By doing so, you are trampling over more qualified students that were honest on their application. The spot you obtained by selfishly cutting corners could have gone to a student who needed and deserved that spot.
I am astounded by how many times I’ve seen fellow Coppell students bend the truth on college applications this year – and by how easy it is to be tempted to do so.
It’s low. It’s deceitful and underhanded. Most of all, it’s saddening that integrity means so little to my generation anymore. Has society changed so much that it is perfectly okay for everybody to lie and step on other people’s heads without remorse?
Instead of taking a “by any means necessary” attitude to get into a prestigious college, be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished. Give colleges an accurate representation of yourself. After all, the point of applications is to help colleges get to know you. They can’t do that if you’re pretending to be someone you are not.
Who knows, that dream college might just accept your honest application – and that would be more satisfying than lying your way in ever could.