App. Question: "What Other Colleges Are You Applying To?

<p>Hi all,</p>

<p>Quite a few college applications ask "What other colleges are you applying to?"</p>

<p>Why do they want to know this information? Will my S's answer affect admissions? </p>


<p>I'm kind of a curmudgeon on that one. Like the question asking you to volunteer your race and ethnicity, I would only answer when there is a specific reason to believe that doing so would increase the odds of admission. Otherwise, it's really none of their business. </p>

<p>That question really should come with a Miranda Warning: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you."</p>

<p>They want to know because it helps them guesstimate whether or not the applicant will enroll if accepted (yield).</p>

<p>Because I think interesteddad is right, I wonder if it would be best to only report schools of roughly equal or less selectivity than the one who's asking the question. They would then have no basis to think that you are less likely to attend. (Or does that make you look dishonest?) While we never came across that in an application, I seem to remember my daughter being asked that in an interview, and I think she avoided mentioning her major reach schools.</p>

<p>The only school that asked that on their app (of the schools I'm applying to) is the school that I am using as my fall back school. I still like this school, it is just far easier to get into compared to other colleges and universities on my list. I know what they're up to, and I'm leaving that question blank. To be quite honest, all they should care about is that I'm applying <em>there</em>. :)</p>

<p>My daughter actually answered the question on one of her apps. It was for a southern LAC. The specific reason for answering it was because so many New Englanders apply to the usual list of New England colleges and throw in one southern school as a "safety". To avoid that possible perception, she listed two southern universities (that would be very common competitors to the school in question) and one Mid-Atlantic LAC. Her "Why Acme College?" essay talked about her specific reasons for being interested in a southern school, so listing a few served the purpose of reinforcing that.</p>

<p>I don't think there's any law saying you can't provide an "abridged" list if you choose to answer the question.</p>

<p>At the end of the day, it probably doesn't matter. I suspect that the College Board folk sell the schools a nice little page to insert in the application folder with test scores and a list of everywhere you've sent them.</p>

<p>Each time my D was interviewed, she was asked this question. I don't think she had any trouble identifying this as a trick question. She figured out the best answer was to mention her safeties and then in the same breath add that she really wanted to go to the college that was interviewing. I don't think there is any doubt that this question is designed to improve yield by weeding out students who are applying to several similar schools.</p>

<p>I also think they ask this to identify who their most common competetion is. I know in athletic recruiting they love it if the other schools are all perceived as better than they are...if they get the student they can tout a victory" over a superior opponent. I'm not sure this is still true for the common student.</p>

<p>Kiddo #4 has run across this question, as did his 3 older siblings when they filled out apps and all left this question blank so he has as well. It's not a required question and not to his advantage to answer it.</p>

<p>As for the colleges seeing who gets the scores, he and his sibs have his counselor include their tests scores with their official transcripts (test sheet). Schools so far have taken them this way, even the ones that SAY they won't and this includes the academies as well. This way if a school wants ACT vs SAT, that's what they get and nothing else. If they don't want scores, then they are not included. If they want AP scores ahead of time, then those are included as well. Same with SAT subject tests, some schools want these ONLY.</p>

<p>So when DS#2 took his tests (ACT/SAT/SAT II, AP) he did not send them anywhere but to his high school. So the only way the school(s) will know where else he is applying will be if they look on his FAFSA/Profile and they will see the five other schools. FAFSA priority deadlines are usually 2/1. Profile sometimes before. </p>

<p>DS#2 and DD#2 disclosed other schools when they thought it was important and refrained when they thought prudent. DD#2 was a D1 recruit so her situation was slightly different but not so much.</p>


<p>For us, the experience went the other way. My d. answered the question honestly and forthrightly. The admissions office where she attends obviously didn't read the answer carefully because (they told me personally afterwards) they thought they were competing with Harvard, to which she hadn't even applied. (The alumnae reviewer knew the truth, though.) On the "Why X?" question, she wrote about what she perceived to be the potential problem with her attending. At some schools, you might actually gain in financial aid/merit aid opportunities if they really want you, you show interest, and you indicate you are applying to schools more selective than the one for which you are making the list. </p>

<p>I suspect there is no "right way" to answer the question.</p>

<p>i know people who got asked in interviews on this before. they avoided the question, and the interviewer respected their wishes. one got in.</p>

On the "Why X?" question, she wrote about what she perceived to be the potential problem with her attending.


<p>Mini: Ever since you mentioned this the first time, it's stuck in my head. I think this could be a terrific approach to the "Why Acme?" essay. Not in all cases. Not for all schools. But, what better way to demonstrate thorough research than to present both detailed pluses and the minuses of the choice? It seems particularly effective for someone at the top of a school's applicant pool who has laid enough groundwork to have clearly established serious interest. I guess in a way my daughter did the same thing by starting her essay saying that, logically, she really should be applying to Brand X college instead.</p>

<p>Those approaches break every "rule" in the book. But, they are the sorts of "risks" that can make an application stand out.</p>

<p>Just wondering: if you're applying early action to a school, would there be anything wrong with just putting "undecided" in the space where they ask about other schools? It seems to make sense to me and may actually subtly convey the message that you have the school high up on your list and won't apply elsewhere until you don't get in there.
Any thoughts on this?</p>

<p>I'm certain that it varies from school to school how that information is used. </p>

<p>I can tell you that to some extent it's just plain ol' curiosity! I was always interested in knowing where else an applicant was applying. Sometimes it told me something about the student (What's been guiding the selection process? Is she only interested in liberal arts schools, or also looking at universities? etc). Sometimes it told me something about my college (what company are we keeping, in students' minds? What schools are we competing against, in general and for this particular student?)</p>

<p>Some institutions do some research with this information, although generally that's going to be after the fact and isn't going to affect your admissions decision [Example: "Based on applicant responses, who are our competitors this year, and has that changed since 2000?" ] That may change the way they market themselves or the kinds of school visits they schedule, but that doesn't alter your chances.</p>

<p>I understand the concern that such information might be used against you, to make assumptions about things like your true desire to attend or the level of scholarships you might be getting from competitors. But a lot of the time I think the request is motivated by purposes a lot more innocuous than that. Let's face it; a school that makes those kinds of assumptions is probably going to blow it a lot of the time.</p>

<p>I think InterestedDad has it right -- if answering the question a certain way is likely to help you, then answer that way. My D had just one application that asked "Where else?" and the next question on the application was "Why ACME?" This combination provided her the opportunity to list some competitor schools and THEN say "Here's why ACME is at the top of my list."</p>

<p>My D handled it something like this "a selection of small, friendly D-3 LACS"</p>

<p>I'll pipe in with one experience here. I had read on here in the past that if this question were asked, that one way to approach it is to mention other schools in the same range and below on your list but not ones above, so to speak. </p>

<p>When D2 auditioned at her 8 very selective BFA programs, many had a form to fill out that day and many asked where else she was applying. So, she took this nugget of wisdom and wrote down about five of her 8 schools, leaving off the ones that often are perceived as the most selective on her list if "higher" than the one she was auditioning at that day. </p>

<p>So, in ONE of her auditions (I won't name the school), in the little "chat" interview part after all the singing, dancing, and acting was done, one of the Q's posed to her after they perused her form was: "So, why aren't YOU applying to NYU/Tisch?" as if they were suprised someone "like her" was not. She had left that school off the form as it is seen as, how shall I put this, more "highly regarded" though the school this happened at is also very selective but NYU is merely more "tops" when talking of this field than that school. So, my D couldn't believe it because she wasn't going to all of a sudden say, "oh, I really AM applying there" right after having JUST filled out the form two hours prior. So, she had to play along with it and I think handled it quite well. Being very familiar with all her schools, she was able to give what some might perceive as "cons" for NYU/Tisch or as reasons that someone might not prefer that program and these "reasons" contrasted with the school she was at. Thus it made it plausible why she preferred the school who was asking the question because it contrasted with NYU in these particular ways. Personally, I felt the question was not right to ask of her but I know she answered it in a good way and luckily is not the type to get flustered. Subsequently, she did get into this school, with scholarship. She ended up going to NYU (also with scholarship). </p>

<p>So, anything can happen! </p>


<p>Hi all, </p>

<p>Thanks for the advice....</p>

<p>As it stands right now, S is applying to four UCs, a couple of ivies, and a handful of LACs. </p>

<p>Redlands and St. Olaf want to know where else S is applying to; these are "safeties" but if financial aid comes through, S wouldn't mind attending either of them.</p>

<p>thanks again!</p>

<p>I would just answer the question honestly. The one gotcha I have heard about such questions, asked orally by a particular Ivy interviewer who related this information, is that if a person isn't applying to other high-selectivity schools, it looks the application to one high-selectivity school is a "lottery ticket" application and not a serious application. </p>

<p>Come on, everyone in the business knows that applicants are advised to apply to reaches, matches, and safeties, so why not simply be forthright about where you are applying? Lots of applicants end up with multiple offers, and they don't all decide which offer to accept according to identical preferences, so you might as well be true to yourself.</p>

<p>Son admitted to two reaches and 4 matches. He ignored this question on all paper applications. However, a Reach alum asked right off the bat where his alma mater was on my son's preference list in ranking order. Whoa. My son was flustered by this as he felt his chances of admission were about 20%, so he had become more emotionally attached to his match schools. This school was not his top choice at the time so he answered indirectly something along the lines of odds of admission being very low and unpredictable, therefore he could only say Alma Mater was a top choice but could not be counted on. He is now attending this school. FAFSA had his list of colleges applied to ofcourse as did all financial aide offices. I called one school's financial aide office and they stated they did not reveal college lists to adcoms. Who knows...I don't really know if I believe that for all schools.</p>

<p>We gave an abbreviated answer. We listed the SUNY schools as we are from NY and it is "expected" that a lot of NY kids apply to them and we also listed the schools known for good financial aid (U of Rochester and Boston U). We sort of wanted the other schools to know that we might be expecting some merit $. It may have worked as Carnegie Mellon (which often competes with U of R for students), offered us $8,000 merit. My d's stats were very good but not stellar. So my gut feeling is that CMU offered us some $ as they knew they were competing with U of R. We did not list all the colleges my d was applying to but did list 4-5 schools.</p>