While we don’t write often about financial aid on our college admissions blog, we wrote yesterday about how FAFSA’s form in which it asks applicants to list the colleges to which they intend to apply to is absolutely unacceptable. College admissions is, at least in part, a game of social psychology. College admissions officers, when reviewing FAFSA forms, often can’t help but notice the order in which students list colleges. It doesn’t take much data mining to use prior applications and see if students who listed a school somewhere in the middle or towards the end actually matriculate if admitted. The intuition of these college admissions officers is likely correct. Students who list a college somewhere in the middle or at the bottom of this list might not be all that excited about the school. And why would a school want to admit someone who isn’t into them? Would you want to go on a date with a guy who isn’t into you? Likely not.
For students filling out the FAFSA form, you should list schools in alphabetical order. Beat the college admissions officers at their own game on this particular point. But, more importantly, we hereby declare war on FAFSA with respect to the wording of this question. If the question needs to be asked in the opinion of FAFSA, fine. But mandate that schools be listed alphabetically or reorder them in the program to be listed alphabetically if a student doesn’t follow the instructions. It’s quite simple.
This fall, Ivy Coach essentially declared war on the Common Application, questioning if the Common App. was restraining trade by financially penalizing universities that did not offer their application on an exclusive basis. We wrote extensively about the many problems students, parents, and school counselors have been having this fall with the Common App. and we encouraged universities to join the Universal College Application. Many universities since have. FAFSA, that’s all to say that we’ll be leading the charge going forward to get you to change your grossly unethical question. Who is with us?