• Support PF! Buy your school textbooks, materials and every day products Here!

Graduate school asking for a list of universities I apply to

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi, I am filling up graduate school applications, but I am asked to list the universities I am applying for. Any ideas about the reasons they ask us? Should I tell them? I am afraid this information will affect the admission in a bad way.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
SteamKing
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
12,798
1,666
If you don't tell them and they find out, how do you think this will affect your chances of admission?
 
  • #3
If you don't tell them and they find out, how do you think this will affect your chances of admission?
I am not familiar with their systems, so you are saying I should list down all the school... Could you also tell the reasons why they are asking?
 
  • #4
2,149
555
  1. I would be concerned that, if you are applying to university X and tell them that you are also applying to university Y, and if X thinks of itself as superior to Y, then X may consider you not good enough for their superior selves.
I think I would only tell them I had applied to MIT, Cal Tech, etc. and let them stay in the dark about my actual applications.

  1. If they find out, you can suggest that your other applications came later because you were unsure where you would be admitted. I would not tell them an untruth, but I would let them go astray in their thinking without correction.
 
  • #5
Choppy
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
4,553
1,632
Chances are that the information won't have any affect on your admission ranking. This sounds to me like the kind of thing where the department or university is interested is simply gathering data on the applicants that are applying. They might be interested to know who their main competitors are for students, or if they have any main competitors. They may also want to have relevant and current data to factor into their admissions decisions, such as how many students are expected to decline offers of admission.
 
  • #6
SteamKing
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
12,798
1,666
I am not familiar with their systems, so you are saying I should list down all the school... Could you also tell the reasons why they are asking?
Beats me. Your school might be trying to see what other schools its applicants are interested in, to see where it ranks. Competition for students in some fields can get intense.

Why don't you ask the school which is requesting this information? Communication works best when it goes both ways.
 
  • #7
  1. I would be concerned that, if you are applying to university X and tell them that you are also applying to university Y, and if X thinks of itself as superior to Y, then X may consider you not good enough for their superior selves.
I think I would only tell them I had applied to MIT, Cal Tech, etc. and let them stay in the dark about my actual applications.

  1. If they find out, you can suggest that your other applications came later because you were unsure where you would be admitted. I would not tell them an untruth, but I would let them go astray in their thinking without correction.
Thank you for the info... but what do you think if we tell a university that we are applying for a more superior university? It means either we are very good or the chance of rejecting their admission is high.
 
  • #8
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
2019 Award
23,832
6,273
This looks like a good way to get yourself tangled in knots. (But if they know that I know that they know...)

I would either tell them, or decline. I wouldn't try to overthink this.
 
  • #9
cgk
Science Advisor
521
42
It is certainly something they SHOULD not be asking. In my country, in most such situations it is legal to lie and such lies cannot be used against you if later found out. Unfortunately, I guess in the US this may not be the case. But from a moral standpoint I still think that such practices should not be supported by telling unnecessary truths. I would either decline to answer or answer in the way I would expect to have the most positive effect on the application(*).

(*) Even if they say that it is a pure formal question and used for statistical purposes only, you can never be sure of that.
 
  • #10
149
4
Some schools may use this information to determine whether one really did his/her homework about graduate study, given a subfield preference.
 
  • #11
533
37
  1. I would be concerned that, if you are applying to university X and tell them that you are also applying to university Y, and if X thinks of itself as superior to Y, then X may consider you not good enough for their superior selves.
I doubt this highly. That's very flimsy, facile reasoning, and while I wouldn't put it past some faculty at school X to think in this manner, I would be surprised if it was even remotely ubiquitous. For starters they can judge far more accurately how good you are based upon the rest of your stats. Secondly, they are likely aware of the fact that there are good faculty at a variety of institutions, including those which are not as highly ranked as theirs*. Thirdly, there are definitely faculty even at top institutions who did not attend schools as highly ranked as the institution for graduate school. Finally, they know that students will hedge their bets and try a variety of institutions. There are many students admitted to say, MIT, who will apply to, say, U of Colorado Boulder.
 
  • #12
radium
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
750
228
People are reading way to much into this. Honestly, I really don't think they really even look at this, there are way more important things in your application. They most certainly do not use it to try to figure out how you chose schools based on your subfield.

When I applied I had more schools that spots on the application. So I filled them based on the school asking. If it was top 5, I would list other top five schools. I don't remember the ones that had this question, but I think there was one that was very highly ranked (maybe it was Boulder or Cornell) but not top 5 so I listed the schools that were ranked close to it and then maybe two higher ranked schools.
 
  • #13
149
4
I know some schools have a very limited amount of spots for this: Tufts have 3, Notre Dame have 4. So I wrote down a range of schools whose research resembled the research I wanted to do there.

As for fearing that you'd be rejected at X because Y admitted you, it is most likely to happen when X and Y have a large amount of research collaborations going on between them.
 
  • #14
radium
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
750
228
Why would you get rejected from a school if you they have large collaborations with a school that you are also applying to? These are just the schools you are applying to, they don't know where you'll be admitted. Many of the best applicants will be admitted to many different schools that do similar research. Even in HET, there are a few applicants who get admitted to several top 10 programs. So I don't know why a school would not want to admit you if you got admitted to a school they collaborate with. If you are really good that's all the more reason they would admit you and try to convince you to come.

Again, I do not think they really look to much at this part of the application.
 
  • #15
149
4
Why would you get rejected from a school if you they have large collaborations with a school that you are also applying to? These are just the schools you are applying to, they don't know where you'll be admitted. Many of the best applicants will be admitted to many different schools that do similar research. Even in HET, there are a few applicants who get admitted to several top 10 programs. So I don't know why a school would not want to admit you if you got admitted to a school they collaborate with. If you are really good that's all the more reason they would admit you and try to convince you to come.

Again, I do not think they really look to much at this part of the application.
There are two ways for a school to find out: either through research collaborations (the last guy that told me that research collaborations were used to this end was a postdoc that once served as a graduate student adcom at UChicago, so I know UChicago used to take in account research collaborations at schools applied to by applicants, as well as collaborators' decisions, in making their own decisions, especially at the waitlist stage, but perhaps that has changed because the admissions committee has changed back in 2013, and he served on it before 2011) or through direct communication with the applicant.

Rankings rely partly on acceptance rates and yield, even for grad school. There are institutional pressures to improve or at least maintain a position in the rankings in many depts.
 
Last edited:
  • #16
radium
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
750
228
The waitlist stage is a lot later in the cycle. Chicago actually accepted most people before Harvard, Princeton, etc. this year. They accepted the top applicants much earlier, mid to late January. So did several other schools. Actually a lot of schools released decisions earlier that Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Caltech, and definitely Stanford (they were very late). So it doesn't seem like decisions at these places is affected by being accepted to the others at places like Chicago. I don't think Chicago is a school that has to reject people who they think won't come. They give out a lot of departmental fellowships which could be enticing for many applicants. Several schools do this (Boulder, Rutgers, Cornell, even Harvard). Chicago actually has the most generous one I have heard a this far, the top few applicants are offered a stipend of $44,500 for three years. Actually, most of the students I remember meeting at the Chicago open house actually ended up attending places like Harvard or Berkeley.
 
  • #17
149
4
But would you think Stanford (and other late-decision schools) would use information from their research collaborations to make admissions decisions?
 
  • #18
radium
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
750
228
No, schools like Stanford care much more about getting the best students than playing the U.S. News rankings. They don't need to. I think the most important graduate school rankings probably don't even look at admissions since they are ranking by the department quality which is mostly related to research.

When you go to open houses at the top ten-twenty schools, you see the same people over and over. There will always be some people who got admitted to over 5 of these schools, even five top ten schools. These schools are not trying to distribute students between them, they are trying to get the best students to come. When you go to the open houses professors will ask you where you were admitted to so they can convince you to come to their school.
 
  • #19
radium
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
750
228
No, schools like Stanford care much more about getting the best students than playing the U.S. News rankings. They don't need to care about US news rankings. I think the most important graduate school rankings (times, arwu, nrc, etc) probably don't even look at admissions since they are ranking by the department quality which is mostly related to research.

When you go to open houses at the top ten-twenty schools, you see the same people over and over. There will
always be some people who got admitted to over 5 of these schools, even five top ten schools. These schools are not trying to distribute students between them, they are trying to get the best students to come. When you go to the open houses professors will ask you where you were admitted to so they can convince you to come to their school. UCSB or Stanford etc are not going to reject someone because they think they will get into other schools.
 
  • #20
149
4
Even so, depts will still communicate admissions information to one another through their research collaborations...

What sort of depts would feel the need to game the rankings? WUSTL, perhaps? Notre Dame?
 
  • #21
radium
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
750
228
No one cares about US news in academia. Grad school admissions are not like undergrad, grad students are an investment. And it's hard to believe times higher Ed and nrc care at all about admissions. They look at the quality of the department.

As I said, schools want to get the best students. If schools are collaborating and a very strong student applies to both, they would probadly get admitted to both. ATLAS and CMS are huge collaborations but the best applicants get admitted to a lot of schools who do either. On a smaller scale there is also the dark energy survey.

As a graduate student you are not bound to stick to what you state in your application. You don't have to end up working in that collaboration, so why would a school not admit you since another school they collaborated with you did?

Also, if you state research interests application that are the consistent with the school, I would think most would admit you anyway even if you seem to be the type who will get into more well regarded places. If they think they have any chance of you coming, they will try. I had a safety that some professors thought I didn't need (it's still a great school and top 15 in my subfield) that may have seemed like what I am referring to (as all of the other schools I was accepted to were ranked significantly higher than this school). They accepted me and offered me a special award and no teaching for the first year to try to get me to attend. I think for most schools
 
  • #22
149
4
However, there could be one reason why a dept would care: in order to make adjustments to their own program if they realize that many applicants turn down a school for another one in a small subset... irrespective of what other uses they may have.

But do university administrations actually care about graduate US News rankings? (other than with law school, because US News is the be-all, end-all of law school administrators)
 
  • #23
29
7
This will not decrease your chances of being admitted. Universities know that students should be applying to at least 10 graduate schools. They can't be upset by your applying to other graduate schools. It wouldn't be such a smart idea to apply to one and I think they would want to see that you applied to other schools, especially schools that are equally or more challenging.
 

Related Threads for: Graduate school asking for a list of universities I apply to

Replies
7
Views
3K
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
2K
Replies
7
Views
6K
Top