Will Daughter's Scholarships Elsewhere Sway Ivy Verdicts?

Question: My daughter is a high school senior. She has received several scholarships, some for full tuition. Is it appropriate to inform the Ivies (and other highly selective colleges) of this while we are waiting the final two weeks for their decisions?

Congratulations to your daughter on her scholarships. But, no, it is not at all appropriate to tell admission officials at the elite colleges that she has received scholarships from (presumably) less selective schools. The admission folks won’t care, and they might even resent the fact that you are trying to apply this pressure, especially during their busiest time of year.

Think of it this way … let’s say that you’ve just invited Typhanee—the hottest girl in your high school—to the senior prom. She said she’ll think it over and get back to you. Meanwhile, your cousin Mabel proposes that, since she and her two best friends from the chess club don’t have dates, you could all split a limo and go together. Do you think that providing this information to Typhanee would help to spur an affirmative decision? Nope, didn’t think so. (By the way, I don’t mean to cast aspersion on chess players by suggesting that they can’t be desirable. I played three games with my son this morning—he’s home sick with a virus—so it’s just on my brain, and the stereotyping was a cheap but probably effective way to make a point.)

But here’s where the scholarship offers MAY be used as leverage down the road:

If, once all the verdicts are in, your daughter decides that she wants to attend a college that did not offer her a good (or any) scholarship, but she received better money from one or more comparably selective colleges on her list, then you can suggest to the top-choice school that they’d have a stronger shot at snagging her if they would match (or exceed) the offer made by the competitor school(s). Note, however, that this probably won’t work if the college that offered the good scholarship is less sought-after than the one you’re trying to cajole. Of course, it may not work at all … even if the preferred college is less selective than the one that offered the better dough. Also, if you don’t qualify for need-based aid, then you cannot squeeze merit money out of an institution that doesn’t provide it in the first place.

So stay mum on the scholarships for now but do consider using them for leverage later on, as needed. However, if you do, make sure that you act appreciative for whatever you’ve been offered so far and not merely entitled to more. The finaid folks do not like to be bullied, and you’ll catch more flies with honey.