Time to resurrect this awesome thread.
Student SH is attending a community college in our great state. SH applies for admission to my university, which is not affiliated with her community college. SH contacts me to help her with her admission. SH is very difficult to understand (English is not her first language, but I am usually the best at understanding anyone) on the phone, and I have to close my door and turn off my music to understand her. SH does not listen well, and talks over me when I try to help her. SH received a bachelor's degree in a foreign country. I have tried emailing her, but she won't email me back.
Me: After looking at your file, I see that you have not taken English Composition I & II in the US. You will not be admissable by the university unless you take those courses or the TOEFL (a test of English). Even after you take the TOEFL, you will have to take English Comp I & II before being admitted to your program.
SH: But I am a US citizen. Why do I have to take this test?
Me: The test has nothing to do with your citizenship. You can take the test, or take the two English Comp courses. It is your choice.
This same conversation repeats daily over two weeks. We still can't get it through to her that she can't start unless she takes those courses. She doesn't want to talk to the advisor at her school, or drive to one of our sites to speak with one of ours. I am at the end of my rope. We have discovered that she wants a different answer and will keep calling until she gets it.
Something similar happened to my friend. (Keep in mind this happened over several months so I heard the story as it unraveled and my friend was trying to figure it out.)
She was working in a language department and got a call from a promising student who had gotten a master's degree at a university in St. Petersburg in Russia and wanted a PhD in Russian literature. On the phone, the student sounded professional and impressive. She talked to several professors besides my friend and they all agreed that her Russian was fluent (though it was obviously American accented.) She sounded exactly like an American who had learned Russian in High School and had much practice at it. She claimed to have taught at private schools for five years.
Plus, she name-dropped quite a bit and obviously knew some people who had been stars in the field at another university in the US. She claimed that her father had been a benefactor of the Language department there and he was a wealthy financier. He had good friends there and had gotten her interested in literature and languages at a young age. She said that financing would not be a problem so she didn't need a TA position or anything.
Then things didn't add up. For one thing, she started corresponding via email and her spelling and grammar were somewhat lacking. Not horrible, but it sounded like the writing of someone who was well-spoken but had a hard time knowing about how that was expressed in written language. (She wasn't sure what to do with punctuation for instance.)
She met with some professors and students. She was poised and stylish, but it was clear that she had never read many of the classic Russian books. She would throw out a few trite comments about them, but couldn't go into depth. We're talking Anna Karenina
, The Possessed
, etc. Stuff you just CANNOT get away with NOT reading if you are vaguely interested in Russian literature. If she was cornered, she'd say that she had read them in in the original Russian and it was too hard to speak about it in English. But she would make excuses in Russian too.
Finally, because she had a degree overseas, a potential adviser asked to see a copy of her transcript so they could determine if she had the general ed classes required. (The poor written skills were a concern.) She claimed she didn't have it and asked what they wanted her to have taken. The adviser named some courses and she said, "Oh yeah, I've taken all of those." But wouldn't go into detail.
She informed the department admin that she wouldn't produce a transcript or diploma for the application and told them that they would just have to take her word for it. She claimed she had just escaped an abusive marriage and had to leave all her paperwork behind. She then said that she could not gain the documentation, because Russia was a very disorganized country and they didn't keep records of students.
(Most of the department had taken at least SOME classes in Russia so they knew this was fake.) She got into a screaming fight with the admin over her incomplete application. During this time she brought up her father, and how important she was, and what a peon the administrative assistant was, and how she'd better learn to do as she was told if she knew what was good for her.
Because she was charming, she had developed personal friendships with some of the graduate students. While hitting the town with some of them, one noticed that she had an ID that had a different name on it. The age on that ID was 22. Another noticed still another name on an ID.
When she discovered that a transcript was absolutely required, she sent an angry letter about how she had "never seen such incompetent bureaucracy" (remember, she had supposedly gone to Russia in 1995) and disappeared.
Internet searches of her father (by this time everyone was dying of curiosity.) revealed that he had been married multiple times but they could not discover that he had a child with any of those names. (He was rich, not famous so who knows?)
Everyone pretty much agreed that she was running some sort of con scheme. But seriously? If you are good at conning people, why on earth would you try and get admittance to a PhD program for Russian Literature? Why would you pull a fast one in order to pony up six-figures in tuition and 4-7 years of 100 hour work weeks? And what could she possibly do afterwards besides compete in a brutal race for some scant 70K a year jobs? And why did so much of her background (fluency in Russian, personal knowledge of the other professors) clearly back up her story?
Everyone agreed that the absolute worst part of that whole experience was that they would never, ever, ever, know what her real game was. They were all dying of curiosity.