Character Counts

You hear a lot about the importance of grades, AP courses and test scores in the college admission process. But a 4.3 GPA and a nearly perfect SAT score mean nothing if a student is seen as dishonest or unethical. Integrity is one of the less discussed but very important parts of the college admission process.

Admission officers are assembling a freshman class of students who will be studying and living together, and one of the questions they consider as they read applications is “Would I want this person in my community?”

There are many ways to assess the character of a student. Admission officers pay close attention to counselor and teacher recommendations. While they probably won’t reject a student for smoking a cigarette on school grounds, disciplinary action for cheating is a major red flag.

There is an epidemic of cheating in high schools. One group of high-scoring students started a moneymaking scheme where they would take the SAT for other students. While college admission officers do like to see students demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit, this is not the type of entrepreneurship they seek.

Students are under a lot of pressure, and it can be very tough to resist the temptation to cheat. With competition for college admission at an all-time high, students can fear being at a disadvantage if they don’t cheat when their peers do. Even strong students who don’t need to cheat might fear being labeled selfish if they don’t share the answers to a biology test.

While unethical behavior may bring rewards in the short term, kids who cheat can’t feel genuine pride in their accomplishment. Once they start, it’s tough to stop cheating, and they may be afraid they can’t manage in college without it.

The intense competition for admission also makes it easy for some students and parents to justify exaggerating accomplishments on college applications or having someone other than the student write an application essay. But the University of California and other schools do ask some students to verify what is on the application. Admission officers are very savvy in determining if an essay is truly the applicant’s.

Even after being admitted, students can jeopardize their college future. Some families are tempted to “double deposit,” sending the enrollment deposit required by May 1 to two schools, so the student can have the summer to decide which one he prefers. But the family may lose much more than a few hundred dollars, since there have been cases where both schools revoked the offer of admission. Character counts!

It’s never too soon to start the conversation about college readiness. The things you can do now to create more choices for college later. To learn more about how Marie can help, schedule a 20 minute discovery call today!

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