College Admissions Officers Share Reasons They Rejected Applicants — It’s Brutal (17 Stories)

College application season is rapidly approaching us and students are starting to stress about their essays, their test scores (yup, even after last year, they’re still taking the tests!), and where they’re going for the next four years of their lives.

Redditor u/impeccableflaws recently asked, “College admission officers, what is the worst reason you chose not to accept a student?”

And the answers, as always, were gold.

1. “I’ve never seen an application get denied faster.”

“The worst case I’ve seen is a kid openly admit in his application essay that he was a habitual cheater throughout high school — but it taught him how to become resourceful and think outside the box.”


2. “They called our school and told us that they no longer were interested in admitting him as a student.”

“I’m a teacher. One student I worked with had his acceptance to Stanford rescinded. He’s a low-income, minority student with an excellent GPA and ACT scores. On paper, he’s a talent and diversity score for schools. When he got his acceptance letter, he tweeted AT STANFORD something like, ‘Fuck yeah, I got in.’ That prompted them to click on his Twitter, and they saw all this fucked up shit about misogyny and drug use.”


3. “Who does that?”

“I rejected a student who applied to our Ph.D. program to work with me because she plagiarized my paper in the personal essay of her application.”—[deleted]

4. “Needless to say, my brother did not attend.”

“I once went and visited a college that my brother was interested in. The admission officer must have been having an awful day because he proceeded to go on a full-blown rant, saying, ‘If ANY of you write a college essay about a tragic event in your life, it has to be tragic. An essay about how you moved in your sophomore year of high school to another state and no longer had friends with you, THAT IS NOT TRAGIC. If it is supposed to be a tragedy or huge overcoming, then it must be a tear-jerker. EVERY TIME I see an essay about overcoming a lame obstacle, it instantly hits the bin.'”


5. “Rejected!”

“An admissions officer at W&M once told me about this student who had submitted a beautifully written essay. It was not only well written but emotional, and spelling- and error-free – overall, a fantastic essay. The admissions officer was just about ready to accept her right there when she saw that at the end of the essay, the student had written, ‘And that’s why I want to go to UVA.'”


6. She Lied!

“I’m a college financial aid counselor here in the US who works with our admissions staff. Some students don’t seem to realize that if you receive federal student aid at one school, other schools can see this on a variety of national databases, like the National Student Loan Data System. Several years ago, we had a high school student with decent grades selected for additional documents. She completed the process but just seemed off. Well, during our awarding process, we discovered that she attended prior schools and received aid. Several years worth. That right there, lying on the admissions app, is enough to get the boot. The real shocker — she was 26.”

“She was not only lying about school but her age. She said she was 18 on the app. She came in to see about her package, and we directed her to her admissions adviser. She said, ‘Ok, I’ll be right back!’ I said, under my breath, ‘Oh no you won’t.’

Following up with admissions, I asked how it went. The counselor said, ‘Good, right up until she started crying and walked out.’ So transfer students, do not lie or leave out info on prior attended schools on your app — we will find out.” —u/remember_mee

7. “It didn’t.”

“We had a kid once send in his own worn and slightly smelly shoe, along with a note that said, ‘Hope this helps get my foot in the door.'”


8. Whoaaaaaaaa.

“I attended a T3 school and worked closely with their admissions office during my time there. Once, a student in his senior year of high school — who hadn’t begun applying to colleges — got too obsessive and decided to attend this school. He lied to his parents and said that he’d been admitted into a special program, took a four-hour bus ride to campus, and pretended to be a student. He made friends, convinced desk workers that he’d lost his dorm key card, slept in various peoples’ rooms after making a variety of excuses as to why he couldn’t stay in his (roommate was mean, allergic to something, etc.), and hopped from one dorm to the next after being found out. He went so far as to find a girl with a disability, convince her that the school had assigned him to her as an official note-taker, and was going to use her as his ‘in’ to lectures.

“I believe his reasoning was that if he attended classes there for a year, he would certainly get in because he’d be able to prove that he could do it. I think he was on campus for almost a week and a half. His plan was to stay for the entire year and attend classes.

Admissions had their eye on him for a while prior to this. He was really active in the admitted students’ Facebook group (even though he hadn’t even applied), and nobody could really figure out what his deal was. When they started getting reports of this sketchy compulsive liar on campus, they put two and two together and tracked him down.

They found him and contacted his parents. He was escorted off campus by two police officers who traveled with him all the way to the bus station to send him home. They informed him that there was a standing order for his arrest if he ever stepped foot onto school property again. And that was that. Instant (future) rejection.” —u/jzzsxm

9. “Kid forged the entire application. I thought it was impressive, but she did not. Instant deny.”

“My mom is an admissions counselor. The worst story I’ve heard from her is about an outstanding student who had a top GPA, top test scores, and a good essay — except my mom had never heard of their school. She does some searching and can’t find anything on the school (odd), so she types in the address on google maps. She finds an abandoned school that no one has attended for YEARS.”


10. Floppy crotch. Just imagine that visual.

“I’m an admissions counselor for all of our Chinese applicants, so you can imagine I get a lot of interesting essays, some of which look like they’re either straight from Google Translate or they paid a consultant to write something for them. One essay I read recently was from a girl who wrote about her experience volunteering in a nursing home. I thought this would just be the typical ‘I’m awesome because I made a difference’ essay, but in fact, it turned into softcore porn.”

“The girl began writing about giving an old woman a bath (whom she called her ‘pet’). She also described, in detail, how she rubbed the skin back and forth, including the ‘floppy crotch.’


11. Not a belief, Jimmy.

“I rejected another student to our (science) Ph.D. program because he said he ‘didn’t believe in data’ during our interview.”


12. “Why? Because she caught the student stealing from her house.”

“A college speaker at my high school told us that they once received a letter of recommendation written by a teacher for an extremely good student. She was kind, hardworking, and got good grades. She also babysat for the teacher, so obviously, this teacher had no shortage of good things to say. However, after the letter had been sent in, the college got a call from the teacher, who took back everything she said in the letter and told them to not consider the student.”


13. “Needless to say, even at a state school with a near 90% acceptance rate, he was rejected when his application came around.”

“This is a verbatim email I received from a prospective student — with only the school’s and basketball player’s name redacted: ‘I think u were at my school and u r from [School name]. I have some questions first. I took the act and got a 17 but a 23 in math, what scholrships does that get me? do you have classes with [Star BBall player] ? Hes so dope. I wanna study biochemistery and cure cancer. I really want to go to ur school. But im gonna go on my own terms.'”


14. “It was an insta-denial.”

“I was on the admission committee at my med school. One time, we had an applicant whose personal statement started out saying, in all seriousness, that he wanted to be a doctor because a doctor’s white coat or a surgeon’s scrubs are aphrodisiacs.”


15. “We did look at her application with a slight bias. When we rejected her, she flipped a switch and actually came into our office to scream at us.”

“I worked in a graduate admissions office in college. We once turned away a woman who would call the office every day to ask us questions about the program that we were not able to disclose — average GPA/GMAT of the class accepted so far, job placement rate, etc. This was a brand new program, the first class hadn’t even graduated yet. Eventually, we rejected her because her resume wasn’t as built out as some of our other applicants.”


16. “Yeah, that acceptance letter got pulled REAL quick.”

“I work in another department at a college, but I’ve heard some great stories from our admissions counselors. My favorite is one girl who was actually admitted. Then, the department’s social media person followed her on Twitter. Her profile picture was of her smoking a blunt in front of a pile of coke. Scrolling through, they saw a very graphic picture of her fellating someone.”


17. “Needless to say, he was rejected.”

“In a program about CommonApp essays, the university I wanted to attend told us the story of a particular applicant. He mentioned the show Dexter in his essay, then ended his essay with something along the lines of, ‘I would definitely become Dexter and kill bad guys.'”