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Articles / Admissions / Answering Parent College Question on Applications

May 4, 2020

Answering Parent College Question on Applications

Question: I am a first generation American, both my parents were born in a former Eastern European communist country, they moved to the US in their 20s.  My question is about my mother’s college attendance and what to fill in the appropriate field on the application.  My father never attended college buy my mother did, she attended 3.5 years of college.   Close to graduation, she was kicked out of college because of her application to leave the country and emigrate to the US. 

Not sure what to fill in the application?  She did not graduate in her home country and she was only able to attend one college semester in the US.

Who keeps these college records? How do colleges check when and where parents attended college?

The Common Application (and most others) allows students to indicate that a parent has completed some college but not graduated. Thus, you should respond that your mother attended two different institutions but did not earn a degree. There is a drop-down menu that lets you name the schools she attended, so use that list if it includes your mother’s colleges. (There are many overseas institutions on the list but not all.)

It is unlikely that admission officials will follow-up to see if the information you provided is accurate. However, you want to be as honest as you can possibly be on all applications.  If any intentional falsification were to come to light, your offers of admission could be rescinded and, if you’ve already matriculated, you could be expelled.  This probably won’t happen, but you don’t want to take a chance.


Written by

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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