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Articles / Applying to College / Adoption as an Admission "Hook"

Adoption as an Admission "Hook"

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | April 9, 2003

Question: My daughter is adopted. Should she mention it in her applications, and--if so--could this be a "hook" in the college admission process? Are there any special scholarships for adopted children?

Being adopted and talking about it in college application essays is fairly common these days. Typically, it’s not a “hook,” but a lot depends on your daughter’s circumstances and how she presents them. For instance, if she was adopted as an older child or spent time in the foster care system, this would certainly make her more atypical than a child who joined her new family as a baby. If her racial background is different than that of her adoptive parents, it might be fodder for an interesting essay, but frankly it won’t make her unusual in today’s competitive admission pool.

Your daughter’s race, religion, or ethnicityâ€"regardless of what it isâ€" might provide her with a hook, depending on where she applies, but the adoption factor would really be taking a back seat to other issues here. She doesn’t even necessarily have to have a minority background to get this type of hook. For instance, Smith College is seeking more Jewish students; Brandeis University, on the other hand, would like more applications from those who aren’t Jewish.

The vast majority of scholarships for adopted students are for those who were adopted from foster care. You can go to this site for information:


You may find some options that are applicable to you, if your daughter was not a foster child.

If you complete the registration form at www.fastweb.com, you may also turn up some opportunities for your daughter.

Good luck to you as you investigate what's out there, and please let us know if you turn up anything that sounds promising that we can pass along to other readers with adopted children.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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