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Articles / Applying to College / Odds of Getting Caught Sending Fake Admissions Credentials?

Sept. 15, 2015

Odds of Getting Caught Sending Fake Admissions Credentials?

Question: I am an international student. My friend has manipulated his transcript and has got the stamp and signatures of the principal. He has created a fake counselor ID extremely similar to the one used at school, fake letters of rec with stamp. The documents are exactly the same as the originals (with fake grades obviously ). He wants to apply to Ivies. UIUC. UC. Purdue. Georgia tech, Stanford, MIT .

Provided he gets SAT scores to match his marks and letters of rec, what are the chances he gets caught cheating?

In the bad-ideas Olympics, this gambit wins a gold medal. Aside from the boatload of lousy karma that your “friend” would invite with a stunt like this, the odds of getting caught are astronomical.

The college admission process has lots of “checks and balances.” For instance, college admission officers often communicate directly with high school guidance counselors throughout the course of the application cycle and for varied reasons. (At international schools, where there may not be formal college counselors, this communication would be with other administrators.) Even an  innocent query by unsuspecting admission folks (“Can you explain what the Integrated Mathematics class covers?”) could end up revealing the deception.

And when a college has received multiple applications from a high school (whether in the same year or over several years), savvy admission officials are likely to pick up on small discrepancies (the delivery of information is inconsistent, the “school stationery” looks odd, the recommendations use language that is not typical of teachers or professionals, etc.). And if your friend hails from a country where admissions cheating is known to be rampant, you can expect his entire application (along with test scores) to be scrutinized especially carefully.

But even if your friend does manage to slip his false credentials past the admissions gatekeepers and get himself accepted by a top-choice college (and this does sometimes happen), he is still going to be on very thin ice. If his ploy comes to light at ANY time … before he enrolls, while he is an undergraduate, and for the rest of his life thereafter … his acceptance will be revoked or he would be expelled or any degree he received would be rescinded. Your friend might even be charged with a crime (the falsification of documents) and, if still in the U.S., deported. And, as the years go by, the chances of this happening will increase rather than diminish. If you are truly a “friend” and not the potential perpetrator yourself, then you already know about this scheme. One has to wonder how many others know too … or will find out in the future. That number is likely to climb. And, eventually, someone who knows will blow the whistle, either out of a sense of honor or for more selfish reasons (e.g., to compete for a spot at a university or, later on, for an internship, fellowship, or  job).

So if you are truly a friend to this “friend,” please deter him from this stupid path. Instead, encourage him to find colleges where he is likely to be accepted because of his legitimate credentials. He’s far better off ending up at a college that isn’t high on his list than he is ending up in hot water … or even in jail.


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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