The Lying College Applicant

“There was once a high school senior applying to college.  In his application essays, he wrote about the struggles he faced after his mother passed away from cancer.  The only problem was that his mother was in fact alive.  This eventually came back to haunt him when an admissions counselor, moved by the application essay, called the student’s home, only for the mother to pick up the phone.”


This myth was spread around widely during high school, especially among students who were currently applying to colleges.  It essentially plays on the accepted truth that colleges look for students who have faced legitimate “struggles”, like illness, death of a family member, etc.  To many of the students applying to colleges, that idea is terrifying because they have lived relatively safe, quiet lives.  There exists an entire college counselor industry is based around shaping an applicant’s life into a story, complete with accomplishments, life goals and ambitions.  An easy way to create a story is to create a conflict that the applicant had to struggle against on the way to success.  While many students may embellish to give more significance to a struggle they faced to create a better story, the idea of completely making one up is both funny and somewhat tantalizing to a college applicant.

The legend takes the concept of creating a story for applications one step further, and has a student directly lie about struggles they’ve faced in the past, only to have it eventually ruin their chances when they are discovered.  It’s also partially a morality tale, warning against lying to get ahead, but also allows stressed college applicants to partially indulge in the fantasy of creating a “story” for applications.