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Can someone please explain applying to colleges SOLELY for “bragging rights”? NOT related to F. A.??

HoggirlHoggirl 1990 replies206 threads Senior Member
I have a friend whose daughter will be attending a Big, OOS (to them) State U on a competitive merit scholarship. This has unequivocally been decided. Daughter still has application in at an elite, private, LAC that has not released decisions. They are not pulling her application as they want to see if she gets in. Friend has told me going there would make no financial sense now that dd has earned merit at the Big State U. To be fair, this LAC *might* have been a contender at some point but no longer is. Please know that they KNOW they would pay full-freight at such a school. It is NOT a matter of waiting to see if they receive enough need-based money as they will not receive any. Friend has told me, “Not pulling app as I want her to go six for six in her admissions.”

Similarly, I have a friend of a friend whose high-achieving son will be applying to college in two years. Again, these are people who KNOW they will not receive need-based aid but don’t want to pay full-freight. Again, I have no issue with this. However, they want to “see if he can get in to Harvard.”

I do not understand this mindset at all. Our ds only applied to colleges that he was interested in attending whether elite or not. Why do people go fishing?

I fear this question will go down the rabbit trail of, “Sometimes elites are less expensive than Public U’s.” I am VERY aware of this - I promise. But, for purposes of my query, can we please not consider this aspect? I want to know, hypothetically, why students apply to colleges JUST for the sake of bragging rights when they know they will not attend. Why do parents encourage this?
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Replies to: Can someone please explain applying to colleges SOLELY for “bragging rights”? NOT related to F. A.??

  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1960 replies13 threads Senior Member
    My child once mentioned that they would like to apply to famous name U ( where I went to college). I asked why? So, I can see if I get it. I just said, No, we are not doing that. We'll be very busy with college applications and you need to make your own way in the world.
    Many on CC think getting into some college is the equivalent to graduating from that college. They'll say, "I got into Harvard but went to big state U instead" And.....your degree is from big state U. So, what?
    On the other hand, they might be thinking, it's a long shot but the kid might get accepted and get some money. You can get money even if you make $200K at some schools. So they also might like to think they are wealthy enough to get no aid, when in fact they would receive some aid.
    Actually, I would think it would just make the kid feel bad. They are going to big state U, but could have gone to prestigious little LAC? Which one did they actually prefer.
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  • compmomcompmom 11528 replies81 threads Senior Member
    In the first example, have they officially accepted at the state U? If you accept at one school, and do a deposit, is it even allowed to continue with an application elsewhere? Is there a penalty of any kind?

    If they haven't officially accepted, is there any chance of merit aid?

    In the case of Harvard, even families abover $150k (or $180k) get aid so is that a possibility?

    I can't understand doing this at all. So they can spend the rest of their lives telling people they got into Harvard or wherever? College isn't about getting in. It's about what happens once there.

    But prestige is apparently a strong motivator for many. I would worry, as @momofsenior1 said, that they are taking a spot from someone else.
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 896 replies17 threads Member
    We know lots of parents like this. It’s pure ego and absurdity. Maybe some parents will couch it as a confidence booster but that’s silly. If kid got major merit at a big uni isn’t that booster enough?
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  • mom2andmom2and 3044 replies20 threads Senior Member
    It can be a dangerous game. Yes, they are sure kid will go to the school with big merit, but if she gets into the LAC it may be hard to turn down, especially if she gets some money. I agree that applying to a school you don't want to attend solely for bragging rights is not a good thing, I can also see the point that once the work has been done why bother to pull the app? And it could be that while the parents are sure she will go to the school with merit, the student may not have fully accepted that.
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  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 6776 replies141 threads Senior Member
    When S was applying, he considered applying to Cornell even though we knew we could not pay for it - "just to see". In the end, he decided not to spend the money for the application, but I would have allowed it.

    It may be ego to some degree, but it can be hard for people to know how others really see them. Having some definitive marker can be an affirmation or a challenge, depending on what the outcome is.
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  • TheodenTheoden 252 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Well...colleges send out tons of emails to get people to apply, perhaps. so their acceptance ratio can go down, their selectivity go up, and, in turn, their USWR rankings go up? I get that it's improving the brand. I'm sure some schools do this because they need to increase enrollment. and there's a decrease in the overall college age population, but historically very selective schools. don't really need to cull for more applicants.

    So if colleges do it, then perhaps bragging rights improves one's personal brand? Dunno.
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  • amsunshineamsunshine 1029 replies9 threads Senior Member
    This is solely for ego. It's also a kind of "herd mentality" that one has to apply and be accepted to the most highly ranked college(s) possible to prove one's personal or parental worth.

    I think it's a bunch of baloney and just "feeds the beast" that is the college admissions process today.
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  • NhatrangNhatrang 1153 replies1 threads Senior Member
    You describe my FB feeds since December :-) Most of the schools they applied have rolling admission, so every week I would see "5/5", "6/6", etc with screen shot of acceptance letters.

    I understand if parents/kids want to see "who gives them more money", but in the cases I see, none of these people will get a dime for need base, and very minimal for merit base if any.

    I don't understand the mentality either. So many applied to 8-10 safeties and low reaches. I mean of all the safeties, shouldn't you know which safety (maybe 1 or 2) that you would absolutely love going to?
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30226 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Yes, people do things for bragging rights. It makes them feel better. As the responses indicate, a lot of kids feel that way. So yes, it happens.

    People also say things they really don’t mean too. I’ve known a number of folks who said a number of times that their kids were applying to HPYet al just to see if they could gain enter, and lo and behold, when accepted , the kids actually went there. Parents coughed up the money somehow, somewhere.

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  • PetraMCPetraMC 944 replies7 threads Member
    edited February 20
    We had the same at our HS but with kids who were accepted EA at Harvard, etc, and wanted to "see how many LACs they could get into."

    Had zip to do with FA.
    Some private schools ask students to keep their applications open, for both bragging rights for the school and to acquire more info on admissions for future applicants.

    This could put the other current applicants at a distinct disadvantage, plus if lots of acceptances are regularly turned down from x private school, expect to see fewer acceptances in the future.
    edited February 20
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1589 replies8 threads Senior Member
    If there is a possibility that someone might attend school X, even if it doesn't look like it now, I would not have a problem with that. If it is a purely ego thing, and there is 0 intention of going, I think it says something about the lack of empathy of the kid and/or the parents. It would be particularly ironic if this involves highly selective schools which value empathy.
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  • CheeringsectionCheeringsection 2716 replies83 threads Senior Member
    Peer pressure is a mighty thing., so playing defense? I know our DD20 has seen less of it, and likely we parents have as well, simply because she did apply to one “reach for everyone” school. She was truly interested in that school at the time of application but her interest has waned as she has attended admitted student days at her other schools. We will not pull the application now simply because it adds a “to do” to the already too long list. Reality is she will likely make her selection prior to when she gets an answer. Not sure if we will pull the application then.
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  • NCKrisNCKris 279 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited February 20
    I can see how this happens.
    Case #1: Since app is already in, and decisions are expected next month, there's no harm in waiting to see the results. I totally get that, wanting to know if they got in

    Case #2: I think it is too early to say how this family situation will be at the time of college apps. I seriously doubt that one can predict someone's chances at HYP in Freshman/Soph years.

    But what I see often here is, someone gets into a Top school with only need-based FA, and then they decide it is $$$ compared to our excellent instate Flagship.
    May be the kids apply w/o discussing finances with parents, or parents are ignorant of the process (new immigrants) or hope their kid magically gets a full-ride !

    Agree with @cptofthehouse: Sometimes parents agree to Full pay after kid gets into an elite school.
    edited February 20
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