The Ivy Coach Daily

September 15, 2022

Keep Your Early School A Secret

A New York Times piece features a student applying to colleges this coming admissions cycle.

It never ceases to surprise us when a student shares with their classmates where they’re applying to in the Early Decision / Early Action round. Why share this valuable piece of information rather than keep it close to the vest? Other students are surely keeping their choice a secret — or misdirecting their peers by mentioning a school they’re not in fact applying to in the Early round. We don’t encourage misdirecting one’s peers. But we do encourage keeping one’s Early choice a secret. If a friend asks where a student is applying to in the Early round, a good answer would be: “I’m not sure yet!”

Even more surprising to us is when a student chooses to make their college choices known in the press. You see, we get calls all the time from press outlets asking if any of our students would be willing to appear in stories. Our answer is always a resounding no. And why? Because sharing one’s college choices with thousands of readers is not exactly keeping one’s college choices close to the vest.

Case in point? In a New York Times piece by Stephanie Saul entitled “Despite Years of Criticism, the U.S. News College Rankings Live On,” she features a rising senior at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, one of our nation’s top public schools. The student’s full name and photo appear multiple times in the piece and he even lets it be known that he is strongly considering Carnegie Mellon University.

As Saul writes, “Neil said he looked at rankings but also independently analyzed the average SAT and ACT scores at each school. He is interested in Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, a techie school ranked No. 22, but he sees some local options as possibilities, including the University of Virginia (No. 25), as well as his father’s alma mater, Virginia Tech (No. 62).”

But what happens if this student, Neil, doesn’t get into CMU should he choose to apply to the institution in the Early Decision round? Now, every college to which he chooses to apply in the Regular Decision round may well know that they’re second fiddle, that CMU was really his top choice. After all, he made it known in The New York Times! If Neil were our student, we would much rather these colleges have assumed he didn’t apply anywhere in the Early round because he was a procrastinator or couldn’t make up his mind.

Oh, and if you need any extra motivation to keep your Early card close to the vest, don’t give any potential saboteurs ammo. What if your child wasn’t nice to a fellow student and that student wishes to express his or her thoughts to the admissions office at the schools to which your child is applying? Don’t think it happens? It sure does. It wouldn’t be the first time admissions officers have received such notes — heck, we’ve written about it over the years on the pages of our college admissions blog. Why take the risk that a saboteur can destroy one’s case for admission? It doesn’t make sense to us!

You are permitted to use (including the content of the Blog) for your personal, non-commercial use only. You must not copy, download, print, or otherwise distribute the content on our site without the prior written consent of Ivy Coach, Inc.


If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s college counseling,
fill out our complimentary consultation form and we’ll be in touch.

Get Started