The Dangers of Exaggeration on a College or Graduate School Application

Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC

The pressure of getting into your dream college or graduate school can be severe.

When filling out your application, you might start to think about stretching the truth a little bit. The truth is, you wouldn’t be the first to have these kinds of thoughts.

As a matter of fact, many applicants over the years have lied, exaggerated, and plagiarized their applications in hopes of gaining an edge in the race.

But could there be repercussions if you exaggerated on your application? Can you fill out an application without exaggerating?

What Could Happen if the School Finds Out That You Exaggerated?


While some people may be able to get away with small exaggerations due to the sheer number of applications a college or graduate school receives, the admissions officers have been doing their job for years.

As such, they have experience on their side, and they have a trained eye to point out inconsistencies.

A spotted inconsistency can lead to a verification call. And when school authorities note an inconsistency in your application, they will be sure to go back and double-check to verify your claims.

If the school finds out that you lied in your application, your chances of being admitted are very slim, if not nonexistent.

So what happens if you’ve already been accepted? The school authorities may revoke your admission at the time of discovery. And it may not matter that you’re already halfway into your course.

How Can You Fill Out College or Graduate School Applications Without Exaggerations?


It may seem like you’re shooting yourself in the leg if you don’t embellish your application to better your chances of getting in.

But it is possible to fill out a college or graduate school application without making exaggerations, and still stand out.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • When applying for college or graduate school, you should write your essays yourself. While it’s not wrong to want to put out an outstanding essay, it would be odd if a 17-year-old sounded like a Nobel prize award-winning novelist. The fact is that the admission officers expect you to sound your age. But that doesn’t mean that you should dumb down your essay, and you should most certainly look for input from experienced adults.
  • You also want to be sure your interests match your previous pursuits. This may not be a matter of dishonesty but may show inconsistency. For example, it would look strange if you say you’re interested in politics, yet failed to take AP Government & Politics? Of course, it’s possible that an event occurred that sparked an interest in you. If this is the case, then you may want to include that process in your application.

Contact DC Student Defense if you’ve been accused of exaggerating on your application


The temptation to be liberal with the truth when filling out your college or graduate school application can be powerful. But remember, the risk of discovery is very real, and the consequences are dire.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC

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