How to Look Great On Your College Applications—Legally

Now that it's summer, college application season is officially over. People are attending summer orientations, signing up for dorms and getting excited for high school graduation. So what happened to those applications? They can't affect anything anymore, right? Wrong. Adam Wheeler was recently charged with 20 counts, from identity fraud to larceny for lying on his application to Harvard and various scholarships. Wheeler claimed he'd gotten perfect SAT scores (really scoring 1220), received straight As at MIT (he never went) and attended Phillips Academy (he went to high school in Delaware). Wheeler lied, but he knew how to successfully work the admission system. Now here's how to do it legally:

1. Turn your weaknesses into your strengths. If there's something that you're not proud of—like a bad grade—use it in your essay. Maybe you learned how to study after doing poorly and pushed yourself to bounce back with high scores. Find a lesson learned that will show colleges you're a conscientious individual who can own up and learn from mistakes.

2. Take your time. Begin early—that way, not only can you spend time thinking about what to write your essay on, you can spend less time in senior year stressing out and using desperate means.

3. Get a second opinion. Have a parent or close friend read your application. They can catch exaggerations or lies (as well as typos) before they can cause trouble.

These tips aren't guaranteed, but they'll help prevent future legal trouble and a smoother application process.

Photo via The New Republic