Student Fabricates Resume


The Story

A student's "life of deception," as reported by the The New York Times, finally caught up with him this week.  Adam Wheeler was accepted into Harvard as a transfer student, but the admissions staff missed a few issues: a suspension from Bowdoin, fake reference letters, and plagiarism.  The graphics below summarize Wheeler's falsifications on his resume and his claims when applying to three schools.


Click on the graphic to view the PDF. Resume graphic source.

May 20 2010 - Student Fabricates Resume 
Claims graphic source

Discussion Starters

  • What would lead a student to this level of fakery, which landed him with criminal charges including larceny for accepting $50,000 in financial aid and prizes? 
  • What is Harvard's responsibility in this situation?  What could the admissions staff have done differently?
  • How does this situation relate to employment applications?  How does this situation compare to that of Jeffrey Chiang, who, a year earlier, lied during his job search and was black listed from many Wall Street firms

Assignment Ideas

  • Take a fresh, objective look at your own resume.  During an interview with a sharp recruiter, will you be able to explain and justify all of your claims?  Do you need to tone down any examples?  Or, on the other hand, are you representing your "best self," as discussed in Chapter 12?  Are you unnecessarily downplaying parts of your experience?
  • With a partner, practice a couple of interview questions around the items that may be a stretch on your resume.  For example, if you included membership in an organization, have your partner ask you about it to see whether you can say enough during an interview to support what you wrote on your resume.