The College Board has acquired new leadership and has reiterated their commitment to make significant improvements in the application process. We are excited and welcome most of the changes, such as changing essays questions, re-structuring the process of registering and making it more applicant friendly, etc. However, when it comes to the question, Where Else Have You Applied?, we beg to differ.
To know more about the changes, visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/05/15/common-application-makes-changes-for-2015-16-here-they-are/
Now let’s focus on the question again: where else have you applied?
It seems at first glance like a harmless one, but as a NACAC member we have always supported the notion that students should be able to apply to colleges without being probed on the other schools they are considering. The college application process is complex and stressful enough and we do not think it is advisable to add another meta layer to it. We must think from a student shoes, what would (or should) be going through his or her mind when completing the application. Should they strategize on this question or lie?
Paul Mott, Interim CEO of The Common Application, correctly stated that the Best Practices section of Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP) recommends that schools refrain from asking students where else they have applied, but he emphasized that this practice is only prohibited if students are required to respond and are asked to rank the schools they are considering. We understand College Board is bound to maintain the interests of the member colleges, but that should not in anyway challenge the spirit of an ethical practice. We need to be careful not to lose our focus on the students, and in relation to that goal, we know we can do better.
We encourage readers to think and engage on this issue, and send in recommendations as to what they believe is the best outcome.
We argue to remove the question altogether. We request the Common Application leadership to reconsider this topic—and eliminate the question from its form. We do not believe schools need this information to make admission decisions and if we start admitting, denying and awarding aid based on the potential schools a student has listed on their application, then we will be sure to create new issues and conflict of interest. Of course a majority of schools wouldn’t use this data in a wrongful manner but it would inevitably cast a shadow on intentions and add unnecessary stress to already very stressed out candidates!
This article follows the arguments made by Todd Rinehart of the University of Denver, the chair of the admissions practice committee, in Today in College Admission. We fully endorse Mr. Rinehart’s view on the topic.