The Common App Threat

 To the horror of one of my clients, he discovered something in this year’s Common Application that could intimidate you enough to make the wrong choice of college.

Please read this statement at the very bottom of the Signature page of the Common Application:

Required: I affirm that I will send an enrollment deposit (or equivalent) to only one institution; sending multiple deposits (or equivalent) may result in the withdrawal of my admission offers from all institutions. [Note: students may send an enrollment deposit (or equivalent) to a second institution where they have been admitted from the waitlist, provided that they inform the first institution that they will no longer be enrolling.]

I have a client who’s an attorney with a large national company. I called him and asked what he thought of this statement. This is what he wrote back:

Hi Paul. Following up on our call today, I did some quick research and consulted informally with a few of my colleagues. I confirmed that colleges are not exempt from the antitrust laws. My initial thought is that courts conceivably could find the sharing of “deposit” information of accepted applicants to be collusive and illegal.

The language used in the Common App appears to be in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. On a more pedestrian level, the language says that you cannot do business with any of our competitors – only us (read: one deposit, not multiple).

Some years back, the Ivy League and Seven Sister schools actually shared info about applying students, the premise being that they would not try to “buy” students away from each other by increasing scholarship offers. They were legally forced to stop this practice due to the fear of an anti-trust suit.

Here’s why the Common App people are using this language: colleges are their clients, and the colleges loathe the fact that parents make multiple deposits to colleges to hedge their bets in making their decision final. So the language is in there deliberately.

My response? The colleges designed their requirements for admission, and they want you to live with the consequences of their design. By contrast, nearly all of my clients make multiple deposits every year. It gives the student an extra three months of undistracted time to decide on the right college. And the results make for a far better college choice, as is proven every year.

The fact that other schools are not asking about your other choices tells me that the last statement in the Common App is nothing more than pure INTIMIDATION. It’s an implied threat, pure and simple.

It’s an inexcusable and disgusting statement, and the community of college admission experts, particularly those who subscribe to the principles of the National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC), should speak out against it. The language clearly serves the colleges, not the students. But since when has the student been the primary focus of most colleges? In the meantime, I will continue to vigorously recommended that my clients make multiple deposits.
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One Response to “The Common App Threat”

  1. Found a Mistake on the Common App after Submission? No correcting it. | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey Says:

    […] The Common App Threat ( Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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