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I understand that schools are trying to gauge the chances of an offer being accepted by a potential candidate. Similarly to what has been described for job applications and other questions that a lower ranked program might not offer admission to someone who applied to just top schools.

How much should a candidate divulge about the other schools he/she is applying to? If applying to a top school will it decrease your chances if you are stating you are applying to another top school?

I find this kind of questions a bit intrusive and that might even compromise to some degree my application. Perhaps some people that have been in admission commitees can shed some light on the dynamics related to applicants that applied to several schools.

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Related: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/782/… –  StrongBad Nov 25 '12 at 18:53
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Are you asking whether or not you should lie (by omission) on your application form? –  EnergyNumbers Nov 25 '12 at 21:00
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I'm applying now, and I find most of such questions optional. Since it is optional, I opt not to tell. –  C.R. Nov 26 '12 at 7:35

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

There is no really good reason for schools to ask what other schools a student is applying to. I personally make it a point as much as possible never to ask people who I'm interviewing or whose applications I'm reviewing what other programs they're considering. I do ask, however, if they are actively considering other options, this is something that can affect our internal decision-making process, so I ask if students are entertaining offers, but not where.

Schools are likely to be using this answer to gauge what schools you're applying to, with a view towards planning whom to admit. But again, I do agree that this question is invasive, and isn't really necessary. In addition, schools shouldn't be checking up with other graduate schools about their admissions, so I would answer in whatever way you feel comfortable.

Moreover, you can always claim that your answer was accurate at the time, but changed following the point at which you submitted the application.

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Repeat after me:

“I'd rather not tell you.”

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I think it matters that you'd tell them. So that they won't have to waste their admit on you, if you were set on going elsewhere, possibly due to a better fit for your work. It makes admissions easier for them as well as for you. I'd rather have that a student gets into one of the programs at his top programs of choice and rejected at others, as compared to a few students getting 7+ admits while the rest don't even have a chance. –  Naresh Nov 26 '12 at 6:59
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But the point is that nothing is guaranteed, so if you list 5/6 institutions, then one likes your application but doesn't make an offer because they think you will not accept, and then you don't get any other offers, at this point it would have been better not to list anything and at least you would have got one offer. It sounds like this is only unethical if the student doesn't say but it's ok for the university. That's what waiting lists are for, they just should be made more efficient. It seems the admission commitee is just speculating on where you might be admitted. –  user4050 Nov 26 '12 at 8:53
    
You should not typically apply to 6+ universities without having a safety. So the rare case which you are worried about is well covered. In addition, waiting lists have been found to be very unwieldy especially for international students. I know of cases where an international student got an admit from waitlist a week before his course started. –  Naresh Nov 26 '12 at 12:19
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It may be in the admissions committee's best interest, but it is definitely not in your best interest to suggest to any admissions committee that you'd rather go elsewhere. Be selfish! –  JeffE Nov 26 '12 at 23:15

I never seen a question like Are you applying to other schools when applied to different universities.
I do not think you are required to expose such information. The committee should evaluate your application regardless of your status in other schools.

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The current UMich application asks the same question. The UNC, Chapel Hill Application asks this question as well. Its something which has started recently. –  Naresh Nov 26 '12 at 6:56
    
cannot find any reason to ask such questions. You suppose to either accept or reject based on his/her documents/application.. –  seteropere Nov 26 '12 at 7:06
    
I think it matters that you'd tell them. So that they won't have to waste their admit on you, if you were set on going elsewhere, possibly due to a better fit for your work. It makes admissions easier for them as well as for you. I'd rather have that a student gets into one of the programs at his top programs of choice and rejected at others, as compared to a few students getting 7+ admits while the rest don't even have a chance. –  Naresh Nov 26 '12 at 7:13
    
But most of the PhD students are aware of accepting/rejecting their offers once they have them. No one wants to occupy two places where there are tens in the waiting list. –  seteropere Nov 26 '12 at 7:46
    
Perhaps. However, that does not hold true for a Masters Application. Phd students contrary to what you said, hold their offers till the last. Especially because of funding issues. X University may grant funding while Y university may not grant funding. X university granted a TA while Y university has given a fellowship based on profile. –  Naresh Nov 26 '12 at 7:52

It looks as it is a practice out of the work environment, here in Japan usually they'll ask you which companies are you applying to, and in UK I got to see similar practices.

I do not think you'll get down points for not putting anything, I do not really think Admissions Officials are really accepting or rejecting people on the basis of to which Universities are they applying.

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