Apps that ask you about the other colleges you apply to

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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: July 2003 Archive: Apps that ask you about the other colleges you apply to
By Pumpkintree (Pumpkintree) on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 09:34 am: Edit

When college apps ask you to list other schools you apply to, do you list all of them, or pick some of them in a particular way, or just leave it blank since it's optional?


By Morgantruce (Morgantruce) on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 09:56 am: Edit

Colleges are members of the College Board; they are going to see where you applied.

List them--or risk seeming evasive.

By Professormom (Professormom) on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 11:08 am: Edit

I've looked at app forms for the schools that interest my student and am happy to say that none of those schools request this information, so fortunately this is a dilemma she won't be facing.

Indeed, I've heard that some colleges have manuals for their alumni interviewers which explicitly tell them NOT to request this kind of information, because they don't consider it appropriate.

I agree it's inappropriate. It's similar to a job application/interview situation, in which I don't think it's appropriate for an interviewer to ask, "Where else are you interviewing?"

Still, it does appear that there are college applications and/or interviewers who do ask these questions.

(Some colleges are just plain nosey! In the extreme case, there were the admissions officials at one college who used their knowledge of their applicants' social security numbers to go into another college's computer database to find out about the admit status of some of their common applicants.)

Flippant response (tempting but NOT recommended!): "I'll tell you where else I'm applying if you'll tell me what other students from my area you're considering!"

Morgantruce, the fact that colleges are members of the College Board doesn't in and of itself automatically tell them where else a student has applied.

However, colleges DO get to see the standardized financial aid data forms that you've requested to be sent out to multiple colleges and those reports DO list all the schools to which you've requested they be sent. It seems to me that admissions officers in "need-blind" institutions have no business looking at financial aid forms to ferret out this kind of information. HOWEVER, I have heard from knowledgeable sources that admissions officers concerned about yield do indeed resort to this practice at some places.

For those not applying for financial aid, it's quite possible that SAT score reports sent to colleges may list all the institutions to which they are being sent at a given time. Of course, that doesn't necessarily tell a college exactly where else you're applying since many students request that scores be sent before they're totally sure of their final choices of where they're going to apply. (For example, if you're signing up in early fall for the Nov SAT's, you may well request that scores be sent to some places where you later decide not to apply.)

Getting back to the OP's question, if my daughter wanted to apply to a school that asked such a question on their application, I'd suggest filling out that particular form very early in the application cycle and sending it off very early, at a time when she could still honestly answer that she was still finalizing her list.

The interview question dilemma is tougher though. Often interviews come after all the aps are in, so there's no way to head off that question so easily.

Basically, this is a lifeskills are going to have a lifetime of interview situations in which they are going to have to deal with inappropriate questions, some of which are actually illegal (e.g., job interviews in which a candidate is asked about plans for marriage, plans for having children, etc.)

It's not illegal for an interviewer to ask about the other colleges, and I can't think of a graceful way to avoid answering it in a face-to-face setting, so I'd say, "Be straightforward, answer that question, and get on with the rest of the interview!" You never quite know how the information you give will be interpreted and there's no point in second-guessing them, so I'd just focus on not wasting much energy on that question and moving on from there.

Anecdotally, I've heard stories of interviews for RD applicants who'd already been admitted EA to places like Harvard, where the interviewer elicited that information from the student, and the student was later rejected, despite excellent credentials, presumably because the other college concluded the student would never go there. So it goes...another college might have been fired up with competitive spirt by hearing of that EA admission and decided to aggressively woo the student or offer a merit scholarship or something.

So my advice: in an interview, answer all questions straightforwardly, move on, focus on the doing your best in the rest of the interview, and hope for the best!

Good advice for just about ALL interview questions. Answer straightforwardly, not the answer you think will make the most favorable impression on the interviewer!

The only exception would be if you get a far more clearly inappropriate question that makes you uncomfortable, e.g., about religious beliefs, etc.. (This is rare, but does happen.) In that case, I'd suggest terminating the interview, reporting the incident to the admissions office, and requesting another interviewer. If they don't respond appropriately, I'd cross that school off my list. Most schools want to hear about that kind of incident and don't want that kind of alum representing their school in the future.

Questions about where else you're applying, however, strike me as inappropriate but not so much so as to justify striking a college from your list.

By Mic (Mic) on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 12:10 pm: Edit

Uchicago asks the question, optional though.

Besides the fin aid app (PROFILE), is there any way colleges can get to see where you are applying?

I heard someone did all her fin aid apps separately (I haven't done, even looked at any fin aid app so I don't know what she exactly meant.), so the colleges won't know where else she applied.

By Serene (Serene) on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 12:48 pm: Edit

Does this even matter?

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