On the common app, over 40 colleges ask applicants where else they are applying. Here’s advice guidance counselor Sarah Loring de Garcia recently gave her students on how to answer….
A couple of you have come to me recently because you are working on your applications, and you’ve come across a question that rattled you… “Where else are you applying?” I think it’s completely fair that you would be uncomfortable about answering this question. Frankly, I think it’s none of their business. The colleges claim that they use this information for legitimate purposes, but I think it also leaves the door open for abuse of the information. Therefore, I would encourage you to consider using the following response if a college asks you for the list of colleges where you are applying:
“Please be assured that I am very interested in [the name of the college who is asking the question]. However, I politely decline to answer this question based on the advice of my college counselor, who would ask you to refer to the NACAC SPGP (2013, page 15 item #12). Thank you!”
I’m attaching the document to which this response refers… It is the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP). On pages 14-16, you will find a list of the recommended best practices for promotion, recruitment, admission, financial aid, and testing. Item #12 specifically states that all postsecondary members should “refrain from asking students where else they have applied.” These are “best practices,” not requirements, but it is clear that the majority of colleges and universities can see the same problems I do with this question.
If you do wish to answer the question, that’s your decision… but if you do, I would encourage you to list the colleges in alphabetical order.
Have a great day!