Lying on Applications

December 3, 2011

Political Theory


I was having a conversation with a friend of mine when we went on to talking about applications and resumes.  We got into a debate about if it is ethical or fair at all to lie on your application.  On one hand, it seems like a lot of people seem to do this, so the only way to keep up is by lying as well.  It really is a shame that a lot of the world has come to a “cheat to advance” mentality, but really so many people cheat their way into success that it is hard not to want to jump onto that bandwagon as well.

Think of why cheating on something like this would be smart. Realistically, no one ever finds out and it just makes you sound more appealing as a student/potential employee. When applying to college, a student can easily say that he/she was the president or member of any club and just make it up to sound legit. The school he or she is applying to would never know what the student really did; the person just sounds like an appealing asset now.  Even for jobs, making up college clubs or how active you were in something can really give you a leg up and make you look way more appealing than another applicant. 

Another topic of cheating could be taking medication to focus more/have extended time. I understand that some people actually get tested and legally could use this medication, but at the same time is it really fair to have an extra hour or two on a test another student is also taking without the school knowing? This has been an issue that I have heard about regarding the SAT/ACT. The ACT is a test that is based on doing a bunch of problems quickly, but having extra time completely defeats the purpose of doing this.  Colleges never know that the student who made a better grade also had an extra hour or two to complete the test. Is it fair to be able to do this? I am biased against this situation simply because I do not have extra time, so when a friend of mine does better I do not believe it is an accurate way to truly judge his intellectual knowledge over my own.  We are both applying to the same schools/jobs, so it is logically fair to be tested with the same material in the same time. In the real world, would your boss ever say, “This should be due on Tuesday but I will give you until Wednesday because you have extra time?” That is not a realistic situation. I just think that it would benefit individual people if they were not given this extra time frame to adapt better to not needing it. 

Lastly, does cheating ever really catch up? In regards to applying to college, it mostly would not. But would this behavior continue throughout someone’s life? Someone such as Bernie Madoff or the Enron Crew lied and cheated and eventually they were caught. It worked for a period of time, but eventually they could not keep it up.  Is that an inevitable situation that will occur after a long enough time of cheating?

In my opinion, cheating and lying about things to advance is unfair and unjust. I do not believe that people should be doing this, but there is no way to truly regulate who is being honest and who is not.  So by doing any of this, should people actually feel bad about it or should they feel like they are really just trying to keep up? Is cheating still considered to be that bad, or is it really just the smarter way to go about daily activities? 

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7 Comments on “Lying on Applications”

  1. Rainyo Says:

    I can see why high school students would want to lie on a college application. I mean, think about it, if you did little or nothing to prepare yourself for the college application process, there is a good chance that you won’t get into a good college. So why not bend the truth a little bit to make it sound like you’re more qualified than you actually are? I remember a friend in high school, who I will refrain from naming, blatantly lied on their college apps, saying that they traveled the east coast as apart of a band hitting the music festival circuit. This was a fabrication, none of this ever happened, but the college would never know that. Someone looking at an application wouldn’t go through the trouble of researching different music festivals to tell whether this extra-curricular activity was actually truthful. With the absurd amount of applications flowing in, no one has time to research the truth behind application statements. Really, it’s kind of makes the whole college application process seem a bit silly-you could say you traveled with your family to various third world countries feeding the poor. If you told the lie properly, who could differentiate whether it was truthful or not?

    The other point made about extra time on testing is also a tricky issue to tackle. On the one hand, ADD and ADHD is often over-diagnosed, so it may seem that it is a bit unfair for kids to get extra time on these tests because of a mental disease that they don’t really have. On the other hand, there are kids out there who really do have ADD and ADHD, or suffer from other learning disabilities, so it seems right that they should get extra time. Should kids get extra time just because a doctor signs off on it? Well, to some extent no, since a lot of these diagnosed kids are probably just lazy, so they get there parents to get them a prescription of adderall as an excuse for their true laziness. But there are people out there who truly need these drugs to help them learn and accomplish tasks. The major issue is that there is no way of telling who truly has the disease and who doesn’t, it’s impossible to be able to sort through the bullshit.

  2. benhenri Says:

    Unfortunately, I do agree that our society today has a immoral “cheat to advance” mentality. And, regrettably, companies and universities rarely have the resources to check the validity of each of their candidates’ applications so interviewees are easily able to lie and get away with it. So, in today’s world, cheating does not usually catch up with the person who did it. I wish it did, however. I wish companies and universities were able to do such a thing because I think that integrity and kindness are actually, or should be, huge factors in forming a respectable and hard-working employee or student.
    I also agree with the writer that it is unfair to give students extended time on exams. At least four of my friends in high school had this advantage. And, to tell you the truth, I did not even know what their disability was until at the end of my senior year. They were all very intelligent students. They were taking Advanced Placement courses. If they were able to take Advanced Placement classes and performing incredibly well, I thought, how were they still able to be earning this extra time, this extra help? And, when I did learn of their disabilites, it was almost laughable. One had a symptom of dry eyes, apparently. Another had ADHD, which, I admit, is a legitimate excuse. However, she took medication everyday. How could she still be earning extra help if she was given medication that was already helping her? That was like a double serving of help for her. The third person had dyslexia, which also seems legitimate. However, it was not severe by any means. And, my own sister, who graduated three years before my class, had dyslexia and she was never given extra time. My sister also attended the University of Michigan and is now a teacher in New Orleans so she did incredibly well both education-wise and occupation-wise without that extra help. My friends could have as well. And, they all attended very good colleges. The first attend Cornell University. The second goes to Washington University in St. Louis and the third is my classmate at the University of Michigan. I believe that only people who really need help education- wise (like they were not ready to take APs yet or were feeling behind their grade in school) should be given the advantage. My friends clearly did not need it. In a way, I feel like they cheated to perform higher on high school and standardized tests, earn higher grades in high school, and get accepted into better, more competitive universities. Honestly, however, I think it was more of the decisions of the parents of these children. But, eventually, the parents’ beliefs will rub off on their children.
    I think people should actually feel bad about cheating because it is unethical. However, unfortunately, I fear they do not simply because their immoral actions go unpunished. I think people today believe more in doing anything, no matter how immoral, to gain good results than in ethical process. In a way, like Hobbes, I believe people are innately competitive and evil.

  3. rachdavidson Says:

    I was just having this conversation with my friend the other day. He revealed that he knew someone who applied to art school with a portfolio of work that wasn’t fully their own. The work was good, and thus the student was accepted. However, now the student has fallen behind, and can’t keep up with the high demand of the school’s curriculum. I think everyone who cheats will get what is coming for them eventually, but it is the eventually that doesn’t sit right with me. Think about students who use “pull” to get into certain colleges. Yes, eventually, they may fail out and thus their cheating will catch up with them. But, that student stole another peer’s spot, a peer that may have actually deserved to attend the school. So, while consequences do come, the student is still reaping benefits in the process of waiting for eventually.

    In response to your part about the ACT/SAT, I completely agree. These tests are designed to test intelligence fairly. A component of this is the time aspect. This is not to say that people who get extra time are less intelligent and thus should be punished, but maybe the tests themselves are flawed. If they cannot be given to all types of people in the same manner, then why use them in the first place. It isn’t fair to not alert a college if someone got extra time, but it isn’t fair to alert them that the student got extra time, as well. It doesn’t place them on an even playing field, which is ironic, because it was what these tests were designed to do in the first place.

  4. yonglee92 Says:

    Although one could argue that honesty is an admirable quality, it is difficult to actually determine who is truthful about the things they say about themselves. It is a human thing to lie and the world we live in today only seems to encourage it. I agree with the previous comments that it is impossible to check every fact someone writes down about themselves. After all, it is completely unrealistic that a college admissions office would individually investigate and confirm every aspect of a college application. Added to the fact that there are mountains of these applications that flood into their inboxes year to year, it is impossible for any group to thoroughly inspect each lie.

    Regarding the use of medication for testing, we discussed in lecture what exactly fairness is. We examined the difference between justice and fairness, or rather if one is required in order to have the other. Rawls stated that freedom and equality require fairness. But who decides what is fair? What are the rules to determining who needs more time or is deserving of an advantage to even out the rules of fair play?

  5. abswang Says:

    While I find all of the things you mentioned to be unfair, I know of people who do them and I don’t judge them that harshly for doing it. However, regarding whether or not it will catch up, although people may be able to get away with cheating throughout high school and maybe even through college, I think they’ll miss out on gaining valuable characteristics and work ethics that come with working hard and honestly doing work or taking tests without the aid of medication. The point of the tests we take in high school are to get into colleges. If we cheat on them and get into a more prestigious school, we’re just setting up ourselves to have to cheat to keep up in college. College tests are just to prepare us for the real world, where you can’t take a drug to help you cram information because you don’t have tests in your job, just moments where you need to know previous information to pull through. Sure you can cheat, and there’s no way to stop anyone from doing it really, but that’s fine, they can have fun trying to cheat their way through the real world and realize it doesn’t work that way.

  6. benjadler Says:

    I don’t want to look at an issue of fairness from the standpoint of karma and such, but I believe that people that lie or refuse to use time constraints for arbitrary reasons (kids with ADD and ADHD, who actually have it, deserve the extra time). Many kids who lie on college apps and get extra ACT/SAT time and on high school tests without really having a need for it will be exposed in college. Many universities are not as generous as high schools and kids who either do not work hard or try to get involved or those who cruised through high school with extra time will face a rude awakening. The same thing applies in the job world. People may start out with better jobs based on lying and getting extra time, but once bosses – who base success off of efficiency and willingness to work – see these employees struggling, they will easily be replaced by those who can simply get the job done.
    There are these created inequalities in society, much like how property was a created inequality. However, in the working world, property does not exist to keep the worthless in power, rather those with skill will find a way to succeed based on their work ethic and ability.

  7. jrmeller Says:

    The problem that you address all comes down to the type of society we live in. We live in a capitalist, every man for himself society, and everyone searches for any kind of advantage they can get. What High School students tend to do, is extend the truth to a point where its just absurd. I’ve known students who have made up board positions in different clubs just so they could look more appealing to a school. But there are multiple gray areas when it comes to addressing this issue. For example, I have a friend who has blood relatives from South Africa. He is white and from the US, and by no means does he identify with the African American community, but is it still appropriate for him to claim he’s african american? Many have argued that it wouldn’t be fair because he does not even himself identify as an african american, but the fact remains he is. He is more African American than my friend Zach was Vice President of a sports debate club that was in my high school, but he still put it down on his resume.
    THis cheating problem is a direct result of our competitive society. Because students think they need to be one step ahead of the COMPETITION, they will do whatever they can to make sure they do so.

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