Preparing for College

How Will Admission Officials Respond to Essay Plagiarism?

Question: What are the consequences of plagiarizing a college admissions essay and getting caught? I was just wondering what would happen if a college admission officer notices that two essays that he has read are very similar, even exactly the same. What would he do about those two applicants? Would he contact them both, just one of them, or not consider their applications at all? I would really like an answer to this question.

In the old days before most of us dwelled at least part-time in cyberspace, if two similar essays were submitted to the same college, they would probably come from the same--or neighboring--high schools. While I can't speak for every admission official, my best guess is that most would begin by wondering how stupid a student could be to copy the work of a competitor applicant. However, the admission folks would not be able to tell which kid was the guilty (and stupid) one, so they'd then contact the students' guidance counselor (or counselors) to ask about the individuals involved. In some instances, the counselor might be able to shed light on the situation right away ("Leon has never had an original thought in his life") but, in most cases, the counselor would meet with the students and wait for one of them to confess (or at least to appear guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt). I suppose there could be some occasions where there is even mutual guilt. ("I'll write your essay for fifty bucks. In fact, I already have a good one in my files.")

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