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Articles / Applying to College / Will Daughter's Scholarships Elsewhere Sway Ivy Verdicts?

March 17, 2013

Will Daughter's Scholarships Elsewhere Sway Ivy Verdicts?

Question: My daughter is a high school senior. She has received several scholarships, some for full tuition. Is it appropriate to inform the Ivies (and other highly selective colleges) of this while we are waiting the final two weeks for their decisions?

Congratulations to your daughter on her scholarships. But, no, it is not at all appropriate to tell admission officials at the elite colleges that she has received scholarships from (presumably) less selective schools. The admission folks won’t care, and they might even resent the fact that you are trying to apply this pressure, especially during their busiest time of year.

Think of it this way … let’s say that you’ve just invited Typhanee—the hottest girl in your high school—to the senior prom. She said she’ll think it over and get back to you. Meanwhile, your cousin Mabel proposes that, since she and her two best friends from the chess club don’t have dates, you could all split a limo and go together. Do you think that providing this information to Typhanee would help to spur an affirmative decision? Nope, didn’t think so. (By the way, I don’t mean to cast aspersion on chess players by suggesting that they can’t be desirable. I played three games with my son this morning—he’s home sick with a virus—so it’s just on my brain, and the stereotyping was a cheap but probably effective way to make a point.)

But here’s where the scholarship offers MAY be used as leverage down the road:

If, once all the verdicts are in, your daughter decides that she wants to attend a college that did not offer her a good (or any) scholarship, but she received better money from one or more comparably selective colleges on her list, then you can suggest to the top-choice school that they’d have a stronger shot at snagging her if they would match (or exceed) the offer made by the competitor school(s). Note, however, that this probably won’t work if the college that offered the good scholarship is less sought-after than the one you’re trying to cajole. Of course, it may not work at all … even if the preferred college is less selective than the one that offered the better dough. Also, if you don’t qualify for need-based aid, then you cannot squeeze merit money out of an institution that doesn’t provide it in the first place.

So stay mum on the scholarships for now but do consider using them for leverage later on, as needed. However, if you do, make sure that you act appreciative for whatever you’ve been offered so far and not merely entitled to more. The finaid folks do not like to be bullied, and you’ll catch more flies with honey.


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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