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Articles / Applying to College / Can One College's Admission Decision Affect Another's?

March 31, 2005

Can One College's Admission Decision Affect Another's?

Question: Does a college or university ever look to see where a student has already been accepted or rejected before making its decision?

No colleges do not do this. Such collusion is generally believed to be an infraction of a student's rights. Yet I must admit I have to wonder if some students could benefit from this approach. For instance, yesterday I was talking to a college admission official who was saying with great regret that her school could not afford to accept all of the great international students who had applied but who needed full financial aid. She and I agreed that it's too bad that she can't contact some of the "competitor" colleges, find out if these same candidates had applied, and then divvy up the acceptances ("We'll take the first three, you take the next three ...").


Occasionally, admission officials do have access to where their applicants have been admitted or turned down, usually because they stumble upon it by accident (e.g., it's on a high school transcript, the counselor sends the wrong letter of reference by mistake, or the student reveals it in an interview). While it may affect outcomes on a subconscious level, it's not supposed to impact them officially.

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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