Working 15 hours a week at McDonald's? Volunteering for a homeless shelter? Starring in a school play? If you are seeking admission to the University of California system and plan to boast about these accomplishments in your application, you might want to gather proof. In what appears to be the only formal program of its kind in the nation, UC officials ask randomly selected applicants for documentation that supports their claims about any personal accomplishments, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Since 2001, UC has conducted these random screenings to make sure that students are being truthful in their applications. Students who are caught in a lie or fail to submit the necessary proof can have their applications thrown out. UC officials say their goal is not only ferreting out cheats but also to "scare everyone straight," as the newspaper puts it. The nine-campus system receives 98,000 freshmen applications annually. But only 1,000 applicants are investigated. The Educational Testing Service is involved in selecting the applications. The four employees who conduct the screenings give students multiple opportunities to clear up any doubts. Submitting clippings from a school newspaper, a copy of a theater program, pay stubs, or letters from a coach or counselor are common remedies. UC officials say that less than a handful of applicants each year engage in outright deception.
The advice to applicants is simple: "Be thorough and honest and put your best foot forward," Mary Jacobson, a program administrator, told the Times. After all, she added, "It's just not a happy thing if you have to cancel their university applications."