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Do Colleges Really Know Where Else You Applied?

Do you ever wonder if colleges know what other schools you applied to? You're not alone. Rest assured they won’t find out unless you tell them.

That being said, you want to make sure that every piece of your application to each college screams, “I want you!” Colleges are shockingly insecure about whether a competitive student would enroll if admitted. Your interest in them can factor into the decision.

If supplemental essays are required, make sure they are written specifically for the college. Admissions officers have a sixth sense when they read an essay about why the student is applying to their institution. They can tell when you are using a similar essay for multiple colleges. Even though it's more work, make sure you put as much effort into each supplemental essay as you do your Common App essay. When all else is equal, the supplemental essays become one of the distinguishing features of your application. You'd be surprised how often this happens—don’t be the laughing stock of the Admissions Office by writing about one school but sending it to another school. There is little chance they will admit you if you write about the wrong school.

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But sometimes someone besides you spills the beans about where else you applied. It happens unintentionally—usually by your guidance counselor, teachers, or another letter-writer. For example, if you apply to an Early Decision or Early Action school, sometimes your recommender might mention the specific college by name in the body of the letter. If that letter is sent out to other colleges, your secret is exposed. So make sure you tell your recommenders to write letters that can be used for all the colleges you are applying to.

BONUS: Can teachers really help you get into college?

There are a handful of institutional specific applications that ask the student where else they are applying. This is an optional question. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t answer it. Don’t let them pigeonhole you into a certain category based on the other colleges you list.

And, if an alumni interviewer asks you during the interview where else you are applying, share only what you want. This is an unfair question, but it does get asked.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The 10 Most Important Tips for Alumni Interviews