The Rules of College Applications

Do you know what's allowed and what isn't when it comes to college applications?

A number of students and parents get in trouble every year through honest mistakes or some slightly dishonest fudging of the truth. Learn what the consequences are to lying on applications, or giving a little too much help to your student.

When Self Promotion Goes to Far

It is a good idea to review your child's college application before you sign anything or before they send anything. Especially review any financial agreements before signing.

Much more than stretching the truth, there are some situations during the process that, if undertaken, could be considered fraud by the college and/or university and may result in an admission acceptance being withdrawn. Read on to be aware of these pitfalls so that you can look to avoid them.

Who wrote that essay?

Make sure your college application is truthful and honest.

Make sure your college application is truthful and honest.

Many parents fall into the trap of being a little too "helpful" when it comes to writing the essay. It may be hard, but keep your hands off your child's work until they ask you for a final review. Provide spelling and grammar corrections, and advice on improvement, but resist the temptation to take the keyboard into your own hands and rewrite their entire essay. This is their application and they need to write it themselves.

If you are suspicious your child may have hired someone to write their essay for them or had significant help from a friend, talk to them about it. Hiring someone else to write a college essay, or even just asking someone else to do major revisions which significantly alter the style and tone of the writing is not acceptable.

There is a reason the college is asking a student to write an essay; they are looking at the content, the manner in which a student expresses him or herself and the general writing ability. If your child submits someone else’s work, that is considered fraud.

Be honest about major

Is your child declaring a major? Make sure it’s an honest commitment to a particular program that the school has to offer.  If your child is attempting to declare a major in order to ensure admission or a scholarship and plans to change majors once enrolled in the school, that is considered fraudulent. 

If your child is planning to become a doctor but does not quite have the grades to be accepted as a pre-med or science major, do not allow him or her to apply as a history or education major in the hopes of being accepted into that program. If you are caught doing this, it may result in your dismissal from school.

Be aware also that scholarships that are dependent on the major choice only apply if the student graduates with that major. It will be withdrawn if the student changes majors.

Don't hide student problems

Have any disciplinary issues? Better disclose them now. If there is a question on the application that asks about school discipline issues or other disciplinary issues (and we are not talking about detention), then the child has to answer honestly. 

Was your child expelled or suspended from school? There will be a place for you to explain why, so it is best to do so. If a college learns about an undisclosed discipline issue, then they do have the option to reject the application or withdraw a given admission decision.

Avoid embellishment

Was your daughter a girl scout for one year? Then list one year. 

Did your son play JV Basketball for ½ a season? Then maybe leave it off altogether. 

Embellishing activities or accomplishments is not in the best interest of your child. The schools are looking for an honest accounting of what your child has been involved in up to the 12th grade, so just give an accurate account. Do not exaggerate, or create activities where none existed.

Don't try to hide what makes your child unique!

Does your child have a special need? Don't be afraid to mention it on the college application. Far from deterring their acceptance, students with learning disabilities or special needs may actually qualify for scholarships or financial aid. Your student shouldn't be afraid to mention how they overcame a struggle academic or otherwise.

When all is said and done, the application is your child’s chance to paint an accurate and beautiful picture of him or herself; the person that you are proud of and want to see succeed. Make sure your child is being both honest and positive in their application and you’ll be on the road to success!         

So what if your child has submitted an application with a lie on it? Contact the admissions department right away and be honest about what happened. Ask to withdraw or be allowed to resubmit an application. 

Is your child choosing the right college and major for them? Find out with your free College Factual account.