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This College Admissions “Hack” Could Help You Pick A School — But Is It Worth It? 

The college application season is undoubtedly stressful. After applying to schools, not only are you left with uncertainty about whether you’ll get into college or not, but once you do get your acceptance letters, you then face a deadline for choosing the school you’re going to attend. For those who aren’t super dedicated to one school in particular, the anxieties that arise around this time can be a lot to handle. Many have fears about picking the “wrong” school, and as a result, students have turned to certain hacks to help them make the “right” decision. One such practice is double depositing.

When students choose the school they want to attend, they are required to submit a deposit that will secure their enrollment for the upcoming semester. If a deposit is not submitted by the listed deadline, that student could lose their place. Double depositing occurs when students submit a deposit to more than one school. In other words, they accept the offer of enrollment at two or more different schools, locking in their places with deposits. 

College Board, the nonprofit organization that promotes college readiness for students, has called out this practice, stating that, in most cases, it’s considered unethical and deceitful, since putting in a deposit at school you end up not attending can take a spot away from another student who wanted to go there. This practice also makes it difficult for colleges to accurately predict their incoming class sizes.

Obviously, a student can only attend one college at a time. So, why do students partake in double depositing?

They got waitlisted.

Getting waitlisted from a college usually means a student met most of the school’s admission requirements, but the admissions team placed its decision on hold to see if other admitted students will drop their spot to make room. Because of the uncertainty of whether they will get admitted, waitlisted students sometimes choose to stay on the waitlist whilst submitting a deposit to attend another college. This gives them an option to fall back on, in case the school that waitlisted them decides to issue a rejection. 

This scenario is the only one the College Board and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) considers an ethical reason to double deposit

They’re buying time to explore their options.

Across the U.S., May 1 is usually the standard deadline for incoming students to commit to a college. However, that is not always enough time for students to make a decision that will affect the next few years of their lives. So, if a student is still on the fence about where to go when that deadline rolls around, they might submit deposits to the different schools they’re interested in. This gives them more time to explore each option further and make a final decision. It also allows them to have a safeguard in place, knowing that no matter what they decide, their place is already secured (although whatever deposits they make likely will not be refunded).

They’re concerned about financial aid.

Sometimes a school takes a while to finalize its financial aid package offers. A student may have a preference in where they want to attend school, but if they have not yet received a financial aid offer, they might submit deposits to both their top-choice school, as well as a more affordable school as a safeguard in case their preferred school’s financial aid offer isn’t what they’d hoped.

They already committed to one school, then changed their mind.

Excited students who get accepted to a school they really want to attend might submit a deposit and secure their place right away. However, as they continue to hear back from other schools, they may feel persuaded by the other aspects of those schools they were previously unfamiliar with. This might cause them to want to change their decision about what college to attend. As a result, they might also submit a deposit to another school later on, even though they already committed to a different school. 

Is double depositing technically allowed?

Of course, most students who double deposit aren’t doing it with nefarious motives; there are clearly many understandable reasons why students submit double (or even multiple) deposits. A lot of these reasons stem from the stressful nature and time constraints present around this time in the college decision season. 

However, if you’re tempted to double deposit, be warned: According to the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, not only is it considered unethical, but colleges can rescind their enrollment offer if officials see that a student has committed elsewhere.

If you’re not sure about what decision to make, speak with your school’s academic advisor — it’s very useful to get some extra guidance in times like this.

Tianna is a Her Campus National Writer and Pre-Law student. She writes for the Life and Career team but sometimes covers timely entertainment pieces. Beyond Her Campus, Tianna works as an Assistant Prose Editor for her school's literary magazine. She also runs a freelance writing business and has written for different publications in the past. When she's not studying or working, you might find her reading a mystery or romance book (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Ace of Spades being her favorites), rewatching the ICONIC Gilmore Girls Series, painting, making clay art, or listening to music.