Fascinating article on the efforts that some colleges undertake to discover lying and plagiarism on college applications! Here's a clip:
The University of California system, which enrolls more than 30,000 college freshmen each year, now conducts random spot checks, asking about 10% of applicants to verify activities, grades or facts from personal essays.
Last year, five Division I athletic programs began using a law firm to conduct background checks on high-school recruits. And this school year, Harvard's undergraduate admissions staff added a former professional background checker. "We look at essays with a certain degree of skepticism," says Harvard College director of admissions Marlyn McGrath Lewis. "We're not shy about checking further."
Imagine receiving one of those "random check" letters, asking you to verify your volunteering at the hospital, or your years on chess team. How would you react?
Here's another clip:
Tainted applications can be easy to spot because they lack "internal validity" -- a polished essay may raise eyebrows, for example, coming from a student with mediocre English grades. A simple Internet search can be used to spot-check athletic activities or scholastic honors. The latest innovation: downloadable SAT writing samples. Since the standardized test added a written component...colleges have been able to compare students' writing proficiency on their SAT essays -- more or less guaranteed to be their own work -- with the prose that accompanies their applications.
Do you think it's fair for colleges to compare your SAT writing sample, completed in 25 minutes with no time for editing and polishing, with your college essay, which may undergo weeks of polishing?
Source: Wall Street Journal, Jon Weinbach, 4/9/07