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.