students working hard for college acceptance

You've probably heard the allegations about cheating in the college admission process.

For the millions of students who work hard to do well in school and earn high scores on standardized tests, the news that some families used dishonest methods to get applicants into selective colleges may be devastating.

We have a message for hard-working students everywhere: Your efforts do matter. Here are five reasons why.

Reason #1: Most applicants achieve admission success by demonstrating their skills

Three million students apply to college each year, and the overwhelming majority gain admission fair and square, not by cheating. They do what you’re doing—they take challenging courses and earn high grades, prep for and do well on the SAT® or ACT®, participate in extracurriculars, build relationships with their teachers, carefully craft their essays, and demonstrate interest in the schools to which they’re applying. In short, they do the work—just like you’re doing the work. And that works! 

Reason #2: You have access to resources that will make you a more competitive candidate—and you should use them

We’ve been providing test-prep resources to students for more than 35 years, and we help millions of students achieve their goals each year. We are here to help you too. We have a wide range of resources available to you, including: 

  • College search toolDiscover your best-fit schools based on the criteria that matter most to you
  • College adviceLearn from our experts what you can do to stand out 
  • Practice tests: Take a free practice  SAT or ACT to get your baseline score
  • Online and in-person test prep: Improve your scores on the SATACT, and AP® exams with best-in-class instruction
  • Admissions counseling: Get advice from our experienced, strategic college experts
  • Guidebooks: Find top-notch test prep and admissions advice in our 150 books, available at libraries and wherever books are sold

It may feel like getting into college is harder than ever—but you have more tools than ever, too. 

Reason #3: You benefit from increasing transparency in the college process 

One of the tools available to you is a great deal of information about how the college process works. We expect that in light of recent events, visibility into college admissions will only get clearer. It’s no big secret what colleges are looking for, from grades and test scores to extracurriculars and essays. You know what you’ve got to do, and you have the resources to do it—you can (and we believe that you will) achieve tremendous success!

Reason #4: Sincerity makes your case stronger

If you take part in activities that demonstrate your passions, your sincerity will shine through. Take challenging classes, and do well in them. Your keen interest will be reflected not only in your grades, but also in your letters of recommendation. In addition to those quantitative measures of your engagement, colleges will be looking at qualitative aspects of your candidacy. Participate in extracurriculars that matter to you, and assume leadership roles. Finally, show your interest in the colleges to which you’re applying. Visit, take a tour, sit in on a class, schedule an interview, and reach out with questions. In short, be an engaged applicant. Your interest and dedication are increasingly important to admissions committees. There is no longer such a thing as a stealth applicant—someone whose first introduction to a school occurs during the application process. Colleges want to see that you care about your schoolwork, your hobbies, your sports—and them. That cannot be faked. 

Reason #5: You’ll need the skills that colleges require

The skills you cultivate to make yourself a competitive applicant will also help you succeed in college—and in your future career. Colleges ask for good grades and high scores because those measures can predict your future success at their institutions and beyond. They want you to be well-rounded because they hope to have incredible sports teams, first-rate theatrical performances, and a vibrant campus culture. For every night that you stay up late studying, know that you’re gaining discipline and skills that you will have for the rest of your life.

The Princeton Review’s Editor-in-Chief Rob Franek spoke with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on TODAY about how families who bypassed the usual college admissions process lost out on the opportunity to acquire those skills: 

A final note

The families who are accused of cheating were focused on the destination. What you know is that the journey is worthwhile too. We at The Princeton Review are here for you every step of the way.