By Arielle Pardes

Associate Editor April 1, 2016  

For a certain subset of high school seniors across the country, April 1 might as well be Christmas. It's the day when teens anxiously tear open envelopes containing their college admissions fates; the moment they look under the tree to find either presents or a lump of coal.

This year, those admissions decisions were more selective than ever. Elite universities like Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford announced record-low acceptance rates, and even some public universities have rejected more applicants than in the past. The college admission process (to a certain type of school, at least) has never been more nail-bitingly stressful—the pressure to write the most unique essay, to cull the most impressive letters of recommendation, to submit the highest standardized testing scores, is enough to break a teenager's spirit. You can't submit a slipshod essay and expect to get into Harvard anymore. You have to stand out.

Of course, high school seniors don't always have the best judgment when it comes to standing out. The Boston Globe once wrote about a university admissions office that received a photo of one applicant riding a bicycle in the nude along with the standard application. We asked people who worked in college admissions offices—whether as admissions officers or student workers—about the strangest things they've seen. Their stories are collected below. We've kept all their names and universities anonymous, to protect their reputations.

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