Well of course you CAN, but what are the consequences, and SHOULD you? This is being hotly debated on the admission list serv, where a number of my fellow admissions officers and many high school guidance counsellors are very concerned at the ethical breach you would be perpetrating were you to do such a dastardly thing.
I’m probably going to rot in a fiery inferno for saying so, but…”yawn”.
For one thing, lots of colleges will give you an extension if you really want one and ask nicely, especially if you are still waiting on financial aid information, so maybe you don’t need to put your self in this dire moral quandry.
If you do, do colleges find out and if so, will they punish you? For the most part, no. Most colleges assume some portion of their committed students are just kidding – we even have a name for it (“melt”) and plan for it in our enrollment models. In fact, at many schools if everyone showed up who had committed they wouldn’t have enough space. I know- this is a very strange way to work, but it’s true!
Some high schools will say they’ll only send your final transcript to one school – but that doesn’t really stop you from committing to more than one – you just need to make up your mind in time to get that final transcript to the right place. Also, if you really ask nicely many will be forced to send out more than one unless they have a clear policy that says they won’t.
Many counsellors worry that this practice will reflect really badly on their schools. I have yet to find an admissions officer that has held a student doing this against a high school’s future applicants. I imagine it’s possible, although I’d say also fairly petty and mean, but I’m sure someone must do so.
Generally everyone agrees that putting in more than one commitment is reasonable if the basis for multiple deposits is that the applicant and his or her family are still trying to work out financial aid issues. Since nearly everyone is still trying to work out financial aid issues in one way or another, this seems like a pretty big loophole to me, depending on how you define “working out” and “financial aid” and, of course, “loophole”.
The bottom line – we know that students on waitlists will need to deposit somewhere, so this kind of thing (dropping your commitment) is pretty much built into the system. Since we spend a ton of time and money selling you that there is a PERFECT SCHOOL I really can’t blame families for wanting more time to make up their mind. I know this makes the process harder on everyone, especially the students waiting on my waitlist hoping you’ll decide to go somewhere else (which would be a HUGE mistake since this is your PERFECT SCHOOL). And I know this makes life harder on us poor, stressed out admissions officers.
So try to make up your minds and pick one school. That would be better, and then you don’t have to feel guilty about holding a space some other student desperately wants. But is it an ethical breach to commit to more than one school? I don’t think so, at least not compared to the ways colleges and universities market to you, but bear in mind that many of my peers believe that, if you do send more than one commitment, you may just join me in that fiery inferno. Please bring marshmellows. Be seeing you.
Filed under: Education |