When the story about the Harvard student who lied on his transfer application broke this week, like many, I began to think about honesty. As mentioned in The New York Times article, the entire application process is based upon trust. When each student represents himself or herself honestly, everyone involved in the process can hope for a positive outcome.
As a student your academic honesty is paramount. Plagiarism and cheating aren’t always difficult, but they are always wrong, and the consequences can be far reaching as you apply for graduate or professional school. Don’t call it into question when you apply to college. In the review of applications, sometimes information doesn’t seem to check out. Often times the readers become suspicious of such circumstances and seek further information from the applicant or the teacher and counselor recommenders.
When I counsel students, I find two extremes. There are the students who seem to forget that the admissions office can’t read their mind. We talk and talk about providing enough detail about activities so that their application reflects their commitment and achievement. At the other extreme, I’ve found students whose time commitments (as listed in the activity section of the application) exceed the actual number of hours in the week. As an application reader, when I sensed exaggeration in a student’s application I naturally became skeptical of the other information listed.
It’s a fine line between explanation and exaggeration. As an applicant, it is essential that you “toot your own horn.” But do so without succumbing to exaggeration, or worse dishonesty.
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