As the old saying goes, a little white lie never hurt anyone, but in the world of education, simply “stretching the truth” could cost you a college education before it even starts.
When students lie on their college applications, there’s always a chance the university will catch them. By lying, applicants are putting their integrity in jeopardy, not to mention risking facing consequences ranging anywhere from a review of the application by committees within the university to full-blown expulsion.
“If something is found not to be true on applications, we have the right to revoke admission,” said Ann Larson, the Senior Associate Director of Admissions for Miami University. “[Once a lie is discovered] it would go to a disciplinary board which is part of student affairs. It’s our prerogative to say, ‘that’s not someone we want to be part of our community.’ You have no recourse. We can deny, revoke or expel.”
Actions at the University of Michigan however, are not quite as serious.
“We would ask for a statement of explanation from a student so the student could let us know if the allegation is true” said Director of Recruitment for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Michigan, Erica Sanders. “Then, it would go to the Faculty Committee who would decide if the infraction was egregious or mischievous.”
While some lies might be simple mistakes, “[some lies] have malicious intent.” Sanders said.
“We absolutely do some investigating ourselves,” Larson said. “We explore any anonymous information about a student.”
Seaholm counselor Walt Romano is no stranger to answering phone calls from different universities looking to verify information on a student’s application.
“Reps call us all the time,” Romano said . “Colleges are getting bombarded with applications. They don’t want to spend time cutting through the lies.”
Larson noted that the universities don’t always know when students aren’t being truthful, but applicants should remain motivated to tell the truth.
“The fear of revocation or expulsion should be enough,” Larson said.
Several universities spoke similarly about the signature page on the Common Application. The thought was, once students sign this, those who review the applications trust the honesty of the students and give them the benefit of the doubt.
So the question remains about how application reviewers actually catch the liars. As trivial as it may seem, on some occasions, the lies will present themselves.
According to Romano, it is the discrepancies between what the counselor reports versus what a student reports that raise a red flag.
Some Seaholm students are disgusted at the thought of students lying, just to make themselves look better for their college of choice.
“You should have a right to make yourself look as good as you possibly can, but you shouldn’t get yourself to the point where you can’t fulfill what you said you would be,” said senior Brooke Selis. “When you can’t achieve that, everything’s going to come crashing down on you.”
The thought of lying about things such as participation in after-school events is frowned upon.
“You can pad [your application] with all the extra-curricular activities you want, but if your G.P.A. doesn’t show success, it
won’t really help you out,” said Michael Kolar, Assistant Director of Admissions at Michigan State University.
One Seaholm senior, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, said several Seaholm students have falsely denied having received an M.I.P, or as the application puts it a “civil infraction or misdemeanor”.
“It’s not fair,” the student said. “It means they can get away with putting on their application that they don’t have M.I.P.s when I actually don’t.”
But according to one college admissions officer, it may be a cover up not worth committing.
“We do get a lot of students with any kind of offense,” said Kolar. “It can be minor or serious.”
The question, ,Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor, felony or other crime? appears on the Miami University common app, and, according to the senior, has been met with lies.
“We’re chiefly concerned with, is this student a threat to him or herself or other students.” Kolar said. “There are a lot of people that say yes, and we approve the application.”
All the universities seemed to agree that honesty really is the best policy.
“Lying doesn’t get you anywhere in life” Kolar said.
Ann Larson had advice for students who were considering telling a lie. Larson put it bluntly. “Don’t.”