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Articles / Applying to College / Do Colleges Know If You've Applied Early Elsewhere?

Do Colleges Know If You've Applied Early Elsewhere?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Oct. 27, 2021

Question:

Do all the other schools know what your early decision/early action school was? Does this play a role in whether to admit you or not?

From the Dean:

No, in theory, admission officials will not know if you applied via Early Decision or Early Action to another college. I say "in theory" because sometimes high school guidance offices put information on transcripts that can reveal a student's application history. The transcript may not say specifically, "Applied ED to Dartmouth" but there may be a notation that a transcript was sent in October to Dartmouth and then to other colleges in January, which suggests that this student was an ED candidate at Dartmouth who was either rejected or deferred.

Of course, that doesn't happen very often, so colleges really shouldn't know where else you may have already applied.

There is a group of highly competitive colleges that do share their admitted Early Decision applicant list with each other. But this happens only after the students have been accepted and have agreed to enroll. Thus, if you were deferred or denied by one of these schools ... or if you were admitted but had to turn down the offer due to finances ... then your name will not be on that list.

A version of this article first appeared in 2010.

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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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