This trope can work in several ways:
- A character pulls a wacky stunt to get into the university of his/her dreams
- A character gets into a prestigious school with terrible grades and only one reference
- A character with a decent enough application can't get into ANY school, even community colleges that admit nearly everyone
- A school has specific, bizarre admissions criteria
Generally, it is to either kickstart the plot of the work or to keep all the characters in the same setting,
- In Legally Blonde, Elle Woods submits a video application, allowing the Harvard Law admissions committee to see how pretty she is. It works.
- Elle Woods does this in a different way in Legally Blonde: The Musical. She shows up at the Harvard Law admissions office while they're looking at her application to present a huge dance number and an equally huge guilt trip until they agree to accept her.
- April of Parks and Recreation has decided to go to vet school without any references from actual vets, any practical experience that we know of, or possibly even the mandatory prereq classes (biology, chemistry, math, and so on).
- One episode of Home Improvement has the eldest son put together an application video for college. Thankfully, a heavily-edited version made by his brother gets sent instead.
- Accepted plays with this, since the whole student body of the fake school was rejected for one reason or another from legitimate universities but one of the characters mentions throughout the film just how illegal and crazy their actions are. In the end, it saves them, since he applied for accreditation in case something happened.
- In Video Game High School, the protagonist Brian D gets accepted to the school after he surprisingly defeats their star student "The Law" in an online match.
- In the manga Alice the 101st a prestigious music school that only admits one hundred students a year bends its own rules to admit a "violinist" who cannot read music, has never had a violin lesson and doesn't even know how to hold his instrument properly. They do this at the insistence of one faculty member, who is then incapacitated before he can tell anyone why "Alice" is an exception.
- Cornell University requires its students to pass a swim test.