Preparing for College

Why Do College Applications Ask About Parents' College?

Question: Why do college applications ask where my parents went to college, and will it help me or hurt me that they went to small, little-known state schools?

The main reason that applications ask this question is to give admission officials a bit more insight into where you’re coming from. In other words, when they evaluate your grades, your writing, and, especially, your SAT or ACT scores, it’s helpful to know about the intellectual climate in which you (presumably) live. Admission officials may have somewhat different expectations of the son or daughter of a factory worker who did not attend college than they would of the child of a surgeon with an Ivy League degree. Perhaps these expectations aren't entirely accurate--or fair--but, nonetheless, the admission folks view your parents' background as part of your "big picture."

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