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Why do private schools ask where else you are applying?

Last updated: 
October 6, 2023

While it may feel intrusive for private schools to ask where else you are applying, it’s possible you may encounter this question during the application process. What’s important to understand is that schools already know where they fit in amongst their competition—so much so that they can probably answer the question for you.

So why ask if they already know the answer?

  • To ensure the puzzle pieces fit together. Are you considering their school for the right reasons? If your answer isn’t what they expect, it’s a warning sign that they might not be the right fit for your family, and it’s always better to have this conversation earlier in the process than later.
  • To better showcase their school. They know why families typically choose their school over the competition and vice versa. Knowing where else you are applying lets them emphasize the aspects of their school and programs that you’ll likely find most appealing.

  • To identify trends. Private schools know the other schools you are likely considering from a historical standpoint. If new trends are emerging, they want to be aware.
  • To plan their enrollment. Your answer gives them a sense of how likely you are to accept an enrollment offer. This data helps the school determine how many enrollment offers they should make to fill all openings with a diverse population of incoming students.

You should answer the question honestly, but don’t feel like you have to provide an exhaustive list, especially if you are still in the narrowing-down process. What’s more, you can use the question as a springboard to discuss what interests you most about their school.

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