UC Berkeley

You better not be lying on that application to UC.

If you’ve formed a new high school group to gather books for a low-income school, or started your own Edible Schoolyard – and extolled your accomplishments – you may find yourself being investigated by the university system.

In an attempt to quantify the accuracy  of the approximately 100,000 freshman applications to UC, a team of auditors reviews the veracity of randomly selected applications, according to a story in The Mercury News. In January, the UC investigation team, based in Concord sent letters to 1,000 applicants asking for proof of their stated accomplishments.

“With a deadline on Monday for students to mail back proof, the office gets daily deliveries of a wide and colorful array of evidence from those who have been challenged,” wrote Lisa M Krieger in the Mercury News. “There are photos, certificates and DVDs, theater playbills, pay stubs and newspaper articles.

“One young man sent a wood and brass plaque,” proving he did indeed win an athletic award, said sleuth Mary Jacobson, a soft-spoken and meticulous woman who leads the four-member team.

Someone sent in a diploma as proof — written in Chinese. A French translator verified another student’s claim that he graduated from a Toulouse-based language immersion school.

“We expect integrity,” said Han Mi Yoon-Wu, admissions coordinator for the 10-campus university system. Although falsification is not a major problem, she said, “students need to know that they might be selected, and they should make sure that everything on the application is accurate.”

While most of those investigated eventually send enough information to show that they did, indeed, do what they said, ever year a few cannont.

In 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported a student l was asked to prove that she was a volunteer coach for a soccer team of younger girls. “She responded that she could not find the soccer officials who could confirm the claim. So UC officials wrote again, suggesting that a letter from a team member’s parent would do, as would some printed material from the league. After no further response, the application was canceled and the student was never heard from again,” according to the Times.

To find out more, read here.

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...