College applicants, as you list your involvements and accolades on your college applications, consider this: if someone from the college were to pick up the phone and say, “Tell me more about this,” would you be excited to share more, or would you feel like you’d just been exposed?
I’ve rarely met students who outright lie on their applications. But I’ve seen lots of students list things that aren’t technically lies but aren’t quite true as presented, either.
A few examples:
Claiming you founded a non-profit (or an organization of any kind), but the group never materialized after the technical founding.
Listing “Assistant Coach: Girls’ Varsity Soccer,” but all you did was show up to 2 of the 22 practices.
Describing the one day you spent helping your parent organize files at their accounting or web design or law firm as an “internship.”
Sure, those examples aren’t presenting fabricated information. But they are intentionally misleading the reader into believing something was more than it actually was. And that’s a risky proposition in college admissions.
College interviewers ask questions. Teachers and counselors describe you in their letters of recommendation. Admissions officers occasionally reach out to counselors to clarify information. There are plenty of opportunities for cracks in the truth to show. None of this is done to try to catch you. In fact, it’s a good thing! A fair and thorough evaluation is exactly what you should want, as long as what you’ve presented is both fair and thorough.
The best college application strategy? Do better than avoiding outright lies. Stick with outright truths.