How College Admissions Draw You Into a Scam, and Why You Shouldn’t Fall for it


Liberty Grant

The countless college emails and requests may seem genuine, but how truthful are they? Image made in Canva.

Liberty Grant, Writer

College is the great, terrifying future that awaits high school graduates, and is the decision that seals their academic fate.

However, it is difficult to make the right decision when colleges have never treated admissions fairly. Instead, the admissions spectacle has become a machine, luring in students with pretty words and then demolishing their dreams a few months later after gathering millions from application fees.

But why, and how, do they manage to scam so many students?

My college journey began when I was a sophomore in 2020. On a cold, snowy day in February, I received a letter from Liberty University. At the time, it was a school I was interested in. I tore open the envelope to find a letter of interest as a result of my PSAT scores. I turned to my mom, waving the paper in the air. “They want me!” I exclaimed. Little did I know that these letters were part of the college admissions trap.

Letters, brochures, and emails from various schools began to pour in as months went on, inflating my academic ego. However, as I considered my stats and test scores, I began to grow suspicious. I was receiving contact from prestigious universities such as Northeastern, Harvard, and NYU. I worked hard in school and took difficult classes, but I knew I wasn’t Yale material. So, why were they encouraging me to apply?

My suspicions grew. I began to conduct research on the admissions process and compared my stats to the criteria needed for these prestigious universities. I found that I did not meet many of them. Applying to these schools would be an almost for-sure rejection. For example, Yale looks for high standardized test scores, with a 33-35 on the ACT or 1460-1560 on the SAT. My test scores fell far below these. I didn’t meet their criteria, so why were they still encouraging me to apply?

I slowly began to connect the dots as I began to dig deeper. These schools send out millions of brochures, emails, and letters in order to get students to apply. The larger their applicant pool, the better it is financially for these institutions. This is due to the millions universities make in application fees. The large application group also makes a school look more prestigious when they reject a majority of them, selecting what appears to be the “best of the best”. For example, in the early admissions cycle for Harvard, they received 9,553 applications, which is a new record for the university. Harvard only accepted 722 of them.

This scam tugs at the vulnerability of students. Many high school seniors believe that their life is defined by which college they attend, and the more prestigious the name is, the more worthy they will feel. Therefore, the brochures, emails, and letters filled with kind thoughts and encouragement fill their heads with high hopes that are frankly unrealistic. Then when they are rejected, they fall into a depression, asking themselves: ‘Why wasn’t I good enough?’

This is the cruelty involved with the college admissions scam. However, it can be avoided. Students applying to colleges should do their own research, taking into account their academics and the criteria of their schools.

A college-goer should also understand that in the workplace, it hardly matters what school you attended, but what does matter is the experience and education you received. Therefore, a student should pick a school based on their own personal and financial needs, and not because of a pointless title.

Don’t fall for the flattery of the hundreds of college brochures filled with half-hearted encouragement. Do what is best for you.