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Academic Dishonesty from an Admissions POV

Admission professionals say academic dishonesty not only affects their job but also the classroom and overall equity of education.

Savannah Dale
Savannah Dale
Admissions Editor
Kira Talent






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Academic dishonesty is often thought of as plagiarizing an essay or cheating on an exam. In reality, the integrity of higher education can be compromised much earlier on — starting with the admissions process.

In past research, Kira Talent found that 84 percent of admissions professionals agree that plagiarism in admissions application components is a real problem, and 62 percent agree that admissions consultants may help applicants fabricate information on their applications.

Whether these beliefs stem from past experience with (or mere suspicion of) application dishonesty, they are warranted. The reality is that admission applications are built largely on trust which makes them vulnerable to exploitation.

In the past two years alone, we’ve seen cases of fabricated hardships, falsified transcripts, and full-blown scandals like Operation Varsity Blues make headlines.

As a holistic admissions solution for higher education, Kira Talent works very closely with the admissions professionals responsible for reviewing applications and finding their school’s best-fit students.

Intrinsically, we were curious to hear their views on academic dishonesty and its impact on the admission process — so we asked, and this is what we heard:

Concern about being able to detect and investigate potential dishonesty

“Frankly, academic dishonesty is becoming so sophisticated. What concerns me most is how we will be able to tell when people are cheating.”

A busy admissions office receives hundreds (if not thousands) of applications, meaning reviewers can often only spend a few minutes on each file. This tried-and-true process doesn’t allow time for an in-depth honesty check on every applicant, nor should it.

Reviewers work diligently to make the best decisions they can with the time and resources available to them. However, you can’t build a fence — or a great cohort for that matter — without the right tools.

A growing number of schools are protecting the integrity of their admissions process with solutions such as iThenticate and Kira Talent’s timed written and timed video assessments which give a candid view of applicants’ oral and written communication skills.

Related: Turnitin and Kira Talent Partner to Offer Robust Solution for Plagiarism Checking in Admissions

Concern about letting the wrong students in who aren’t equipped to succeed

“I am concerned that applicants who have committed plagiarism or other academic offenses may not have the appropriate skills needed to succeed in their programs.”

An applicant may cheat the admissions process for many reasons, but perhaps most common is the feeling of being unqualified, unprepared, or unable to get in otherwise.

Unfortunately, those feelings don’t dissipate after enrollment and the unprepared student may resort to back to academic misconduct. As one admissions professional told us, “If someone is dishonest on their application, there is a good possibility that they are not a viable candidate and they may not be honest in their school work.”

When that unprepared student enters the classroom, group collaboration and peer-to-peer learning become nearly impossible — and upon graduation, the repercussions of academic dishonesty can continue in the form of workplace deviance.

Concern about perpetuating inequity for students who deserve a spot on campus

“If a person is dishonest in the admissions process, it can ruin the admissions chances of other applicants.”

In the ultra-competitive landscape of higher education where seats are limited, admission teams are tasked with ensuring a fair process for all students.

They work to reduce bias, build equitable review practices, and implement integrity policies, yet well-deserving students may still lose their shot at admission when academic dishonesty is used to swindle the process.

This has disheartening effects on the admissions team, as well as first-generation or low-income students who already face extra hurdles to higher education.

Addressing concerns of academic dishonesty

It’s important to recognize that the majority of applicants are honest and the students who enroll truly deserve their spots.

However, admissions teams rely on full academic integrity in order to find the best students for their programs — and their ability to do so gets compromised when plagiarism, fabrication, or other forms of dishonest behavior enter the admission process.

Educating your team about academic integrity and arming them with the right tools to detect and investigate suspicious behavior is not only the first step in building a defensible admissions process but also creating a fair higher education journey for all.

Want to learn more about the Kira Talent Plagiarism Checker powered by Turnitin?