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About this blog: We are writing this blog to give practical advice to students and parents, to reflect on issues affecting college admissions, and to provide a platform for a robust community discussion on post-secondary choices. We occasionally f...  (More)

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Honesty is the Best Policy

Uploaded: Oct 31, 2018
Many students are applying to their early application colleges this week. When it comes to essays, my job as an independent admissions counselor is to help students find their writing voice, not to write their essays. Students spend hours writing and editing their essays. They are reflective and allow the admissions reader to get a glimpse of who they are outside of the classroom. Writing these essays is no easy feat so when they share their final drafts with their parent(s), they are proud of their work.

Parents, while their intentions are in the right place, often insist on “making a few edits” which typically means they rewrite the entire essay. Soon, the voice of that student has vanished from the essay. Admissions officers look for these discrepancies in writing style on the applications. When they find these discrepancies (and they do quite often), the consequences are grave.

When a student submits their application they electronically sign an affirmation stating the information they are supplying is accurate and written by them. If caught, the application is canceled and the college will notify other colleges to inform them of their findings. Now, the student applicant has no choice but to start all over with a tarnished reputation and a flawed record.

A colleague told the story of a student whose parent went into their application unbeknownst to them and altered their essays, then submitted. When the student went back into their application to review something, they realized what had happened. Furious, they contacted their colleges, explained what happened and asked for a second chance to make it right. Some of the colleges flat out denied this request but a few accepted their apology and allowed them to resubmit using their original essays. The student ended up getting admitted to college on their own merit, not their parents.

Take a look at the Common Application Affirmations and the UC Statement of Integrity. Essay writing is only part of the issue. Students should not embellish or pad their activities list. If you did not actively participate in your activity, do not include it. Just stick to the facts. If a student took a few years of a foreign language in school but does not speak, write, or read that language at home, the student is not considered bilingual.

To quote the University of California, “UC does verify information that students report on the application. It is critical that students do not misrepresent or falsify information, as this is a serious offense and will result in serious consequences. Honesty is the best policy.”

Let that sink in for a moment.

Now, go do the right thing by not doing the write thing.

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