Nightmare in the Admissions Office: Parents' Edition

by Molly McCracken on Oct 27, 2016 10:00:00 AM

One of the best things about working in admissions is meeting creative, intelligent, and curious applicants each year. However, amid all of the pressure involved in getting into school, sometimes things can get a little weird.

Last year for Halloween, we shared the top 13 applicant horror stories we heard from admissions teams. This year, we wanted to continue the tradition, instead focusing on something far scarier: When parents strike.

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  • The Unsupportive Father

“One father asked in front of 600 people if our food service had diet food because his ‘fat daughter’ couldn’t afford to gain the Freshman 15.”

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  • The Honest Kid

“An applicant sent in a letter to the admissions office I worked in saying he had not applied, his parents had because they want him to go to school in America but he didn't want to leave China. He never sat the GRE so the score we received was not his, his parents paid someone to take the test under his name. He asked we reject his application and he apologized for his parents' deceit.”

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  • The Planner

“Most amusing phone call was from someone living in Manhattan, wanting to know which preschool her child should go to in order to get into the school. You know, in 15 or so years.”
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  • The Essay Writers

“I've seen two essays written by parents. Not just essays where you could tell from the writing that it was written by an adult, but essays by mothers written in first person about their sons. Needless to say, neither got in - and one probably would have otherwise since he had the grades.”

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  • The Mother With An Agenda

“A mom asked me on a tour if undergrads could study in the law or med school libraries. The mom went on to explain that the boys on our campus weren’t that attractive, and that surely her daughter would date all the appropriately attractive boys well before she graduated. The mom also preferred that her daughter marry a doctor or lawyer.”

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  • The Move-In Mom

“On move-in day for all Year 1 entering university students, a mother had asked where her room was in Residence and if the room was close to her son's room. When she was told that only students are allowed to live in Residence, she was quite upset. She indicated that she needed to live with her son for the entirety of his university studies to ensure that she would be available to do his laundry, cook his meals, clean his room, and ensure that he was going to class and getting his homework and assignments completed on time.”

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— Client Story

  • The Identity Thief

“I had a student who never had their application matched up with their other materials (test scores, transcripts, etc.) because the social security numbers didn't match. That's because their mother had filled out the application and written in her SSN instead.”

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  • The Backstabber

“A parent wrote one of these letters for their kid, but listed off reasons their student shouldn't be let in, stuff like, ‘Little Johnny is really lazy,’ and ‘he isn't smart enough to go to this school.’ How about that for tough love.”

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  • The Destined Daughter

“We would have students who had their moms write letters to us saying things like, ‘We just knew little Susie was meant to be a singer because she was born with her arms straight up in the air just as if she were performing.’

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— Source

  • The Ventriloquist

“One mother tried to dictate what the dean should write in an e-mail message to her son to encourage him to attend Kenyon. She was feeding me lines like a ventriloquist. The dean e-mailed the young man, but used her own words.”

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  • The Football Star

“A mother called pretending to be her son to tell us about 'his' selection to his county's All-County football team. I was on the phone with this lady while she was trying to tell me how she made it at linebacker, and she gave me her stats.”

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  • The Threatener

“A mom on a campus visit told me that if her son's classmate was accepted instead of him, she would come back and [explicit threat redacted]. Very quickly she and her son were escorted off campus and his application destroyed.”

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  • The Hater

“There was a kid who really didn't want to go to law school, but his parents made him take the LSAT or they were going to cut him off. He ended up doing really well, got a 176, but wrote "f*** you" over and over to fill the entire essay portion. He had a 4.0 GPA, 176 LSAT score, and didn't get into a single school.”

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Want to hear more? Check out This American Life’s episode on “How I Got Into College.” Act One is all about parents attempting to get their kids into college by pretending to be them.

What’s your most memorable applicant horror story? Share in the comments below:

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Written by Molly McCracken

Molly is the Content & Communications Manager at Kira. She strives to create helpful articles, emails, and resources for admissions teams, and is an avid supporter of the Oxford comma.