17 College Admissions Officers Share The Craziest Things They've Seen on Applications
I applied to college as an 18-year-old (which was roughly eight million years ago). It was 2001, and it was hella intense. What I've come to understand after watching my three younger siblings go through the same stressful process is that it's only gotten to be more nerve-wracking as the years have passed. *Cut to my graying hair and stooped shoulders.* I am kind of thankful that I was such a clueless dingus when I was going through it. I didn't realize back then that getting into college was something I should be pulling my hair out over, and as such, the application process for me was embarrassingly low-stress for me. Like, that is not a humblebrag about how flawlessly composed I am—I SHOULD have been incredibly stressed about such an important moment, but alas, I just floated along, totally unconcerned.
I do vividly recall, however, the amount of pressure that was placed on our personal essay. There were a couple of colleges I actually didn't bother applying to, even though I was exceptionally interested in what they had to offer, because their essay assignments were insanely impossible things like "take a daguerreotype of yourself and then copy it in kohl pencil onto another piece of paper before recording a video of yourself staring at it, and crying." Actually, if that had been a real thing, I would have shown up at the college's doorstep being all, "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY." Sadly, I instead wrote this long, purple piece wherein I compared myself to the Inuit people. The opening line was, "I am an Eskimo." How I received admittance to any school at all is beyond me. Turns out, I'm not alone in my weird application woes. A curiouser Redittor asked college admissions officers about the weirdest things they'd seen on the job and they were happy to oblige. Here are 17 of my favs:
"I got a handful of kids each year writing their college essays on losing their virginity. Always cringeworthy."
"We had a kid whose girlfriend updated his profile so his first name was "BestBoyfriendInTheWorld" in the admissions system. Yes, someone in the office made an Overly Attached Girlfriend meme for it. We also had a kid whose last name was "Null" that caused problems with the database."
"There was one applicant I remember who turned in an admission essay detailing his time as a clandestine operative for the CIA and informing us that he was the guy who invented the M16 rifle. The second was easily researchable on the internet (seriously, did he not think we'd Google that?) and the first...well...yeah."
"Stupid little things that they don't think to check/change..like the one whose email address for the application was icecreamforyoubaby (say it out loud)."
"Got a little scared of a kid who wrote an essay about someone's murder. Never figured out if it was a personal story or a work of fiction."
I was interviewing a guy and he decided the interview was over. Stood up while I was in mid-sentence and blurted out, "I'm going to go get my mom" (in the waiting room)."
"2 forms, a few days apart, claiming to be from Mexico, and to be vigilantes in their neighborhoods. They [wanted] to come to our uni, to study Law, so they could go home, and if they were ever arrested they could defend themselves in court, without revealing secret identity. They were both from Mexico City, and if I remember correctly, lived on the same street, just different house numbers."
"My friend's neighbor wrote his Yale essay about how he got drunk one time but still had the moral compass to turn down a girl who was completely wasted. He got in."
"For some reason we got a lot of applicants who said they were from Vermont but were from somewhere else. Like, a lot of them."
"A personal statement was as follows. 'i like treez n animals. i like football'."
"In the middle of an admissions interview a kid answered his cell phone and proceeded [to] negotiate the price of the weed he was selling. I just stared at him and he winked at me. We let him in because it was a for-profit [school] and we had no standards."
"My mom worked in her University's admissions department, where recommendation letters from the applicant's parent were surprisingly common (but were not taken into consideration, of course). One time, a parent wrote one of these letters for their kid, but listed off reasons their student shouldn't be let in. It was for stuff like, 'Little Johnny is really lazy,' and 'he isn't smart enough to go to this school.' How about that for tough love."
"I worked at a military graduate school, so most applications were pretty boring and straightforward. However we had one applicant who included a poem he'd written along with his transcripts, GRE scores, etc. I don't remember the whole thing (we printed it out and taped it up in our cubicle because it was so damn funny) but it started 'Why on earth babies get burnt? Into ashes they get turnt.'"
"We had a guy send in Hitler themed artwork. Also had another guy who applied to the MBA program who had embezzled money from his place of work and openly admitted to it in his application essay. He was admitted and was featured on the school's webpage for a semester."
"That they were dead. The mom was still in denial and sent out a ton of applications."
"I had been working for my school for about 3 months. I walked out to the lobby for something and a student and mom were speaking with another admissions rep and mid sentence, the student looks me dead in the eyes and says in a pretend demonic voice "I'M HERE TO STEAL YOUR SOUL"...I just froze and stared awkwardly. And then his mom said "That's not nice!"...I was like, uhhh..what do you mean that's not nice? Your kid's crazy!"
"We got a lot of "undercover" journalists who made bogus applications as research."
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