We wonder, as well, if students understand the definitions of originality, authenticity, and truthfulness and how these standards are applied in higher education.
Earlier this year, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Duke University had asked its applicants to indicate the quantity and quality of assistance they received while writing their essays.
As the writing coordinator at Sarah Lawrence College, I am sometimes called in by the admission committee to take a look at these essays.
We uncomfortably wonder who authored a particularly striking essay that bears little relationship to other writing in the applicant's folder.
It is nationally renowned for its rigorous academic and creative standards.
These are fostered by small seminar classes and individual student-faculty tutorials made possible by a very low student-faculty ratio of 9 to 1.
This can't work if important parts of students' identities are knowingly misrepresented by themselves or their parents.
The voice that matters in an applicant's essay belongs to the student.
Is it truly the student who, invited to speak of herself or himself, has made a remarkable breakthrough?
Or were the essays the work of a parent or some other (possibly mercenary) adult called in to pinch-hit as the application ghostwriter?