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Articles / Applying to College / Am I Bribing the Admissions Committee?

Am I Bribing the Admissions Committee?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | April 30, 2017

Question: I am on a waiting list at a college that I really want to attend and which does seem to take a number of students off the list every year. In my application I talked about my home-made candy business. If I were to send the admission office a little box of my candies, might it be considered a bribe and work against me?

When a student's application touts specific passions ... such as photography, poetry-writing, oil painting, or cooking ... then "The Dean" actually thinks it can be a smart idea to submit a small sample, especially during this post-decision period when probably only a handful of wait-listed students will end up with good news and when almost every Hail-Mary gambit is worth a shot.


What I would NOT recommend, however, are random gifts. In other words, all "show-and-tell" items that are shipped off to admission folks should be representative of an aforementioned talent or hobby. Sure, nearly everyone likes candy, but it would be inappropriate to send it to the admissions staff unless it represents a significant enterprise that was already discussed in the application.

So when you send your candy, be sure to enclose not only your name and high school name (and an applicant ID number if you have one) but also a brief note reminding the admission folks of your culinary enterprise. And act fast because waitlist decisions are being made right now.

Wishing you sweet success!

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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