I intend to apply for a masters program in the coming months. A parent is a professor in the same field at a nearby institution and is also an adjunct in the department I am applying to.

Do I have any ethical obligation to "disclose" (or, for that matter, to avoid) this fact in my application? If I do not address it, could it be seen as trying to hide a conflict of interest? If I do address it, will it be seen as inappropriate name-dropping? If I must mention it, what is the proper way to do this?

I have an uncommon last name which will probably be recognized, and some members of the faculty already know that I am the child of their colleague.

  • A good test is to imagine your actions spread over the front page of a newspaper. I think "Banchak discloses familial relationship when applying for college admission" doesn't sound awful. "Banchak does not disclose familial relationship when applying" sounds even more innocuous. – aparente001 Sep 10 '16 at 4:38
  • Have you looked at the application form? My institution has a space of the form where they require applicants to identify any relatives associated with the university. – rhialto Sep 10 '16 at 10:30
  • @Rhialto, I remember that kind of thing when applying to (undergrad) college, but haven't found a field like that on this application. This makes me somewhat confident I'm being overcautious, but at the same time I don't want to torpedo my chances over some stupid oversight. – Alpha Draconis Sep 10 '16 at 22:57

I think you should say nothing. If your name is uncommon and your parent also teaches in the same department, it seems certain the admissions committee will twig to the connection. If they do that on their own, human nature being what is, you'll probably inherit a slight glow. But if you make any mention, I think that will sound like name-dropping.

  • Nepotism is very common in academia. There is some good reason for it. If a parent has a higher degree, there is a strong correlation that the child will do well in a graduate program. – MikeP Sep 10 '16 at 1:18
  • @MikeP - I think you are misusing nepotism. But I agree with what you're saying. – aparente001 Sep 10 '16 at 4:36
  • Yes, whether it's genes or environment, children tend to get them both from their parents. – Nicole Hamilton Sep 10 '16 at 15:41

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