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Parents: How to Handle College Applications with Twins or Multiples

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For parents of twins or multiples, most milestones are a little different. From the baby years to starting school to juggling a myriad of activities and social events, everyday happenings are all a bit busier than the norm. College admissions are no different.


For some parents of multiples, college admissions present unique stressors. Not only are there double the deadlines, double the test scores, and double the paperwork. There are also double concerns—two or more students to worry about, instead of just one.


Some parents worry that their children will struggle to find themselves as individuals after a lifetime of being part of a unit. Others worry that feelings will be hurt when one sibling outperforms the other during the admissions process. Indeed, juggling the needs of two or more children both going through the college admissions process at once can be difficult. In this post, we outline our three top tips for parents of multiples who are undergoing the college admissions process.



1. Foster Independence Through Individual Conversations With Each Child

For twins and multiples who have gone to school together throughout their lives, the idea of splitting ways for college can be intimidating. Your children might be scared of setting out on their own for the first time and may be tempted to stick together just for the sake of comfort.


Remind your children that college represents a unique opportunity to reinvent themselves as individuals. For the first time, they have the chance to create an identity that doesn’t include their siblings. While this can be a scary prospect and might even seem like it’s denying an important part of who they are, it’s also an invaluable opportunity to focus on oneself and branch out beyond the comfort of the family unit.


Creating a college list is an ongoing process, and the final product should represent the schools that most closely align with your student’s academic and personal goals and ambitions. Many multiples struggle with the decision to make an independent college list, uninfluenced by the choices of his or her siblings.


You can foster your children’s unique interests by having individual conversations with each about college goals, priorities, and ambitions. While the temptation exists to roll these conversations into a family discussion, in the long run you will be doing yourself and your children a favor by allowing each the time to consider these things on their own.


To get the conversation started, take a look at these CollegeVine tips about creating a college list:


The College List, Decoded: Safety, Target, and Reach Schools

Seven Tips for Creating Your College List

Five Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Your College List

10 Considerations For Making Your College List



2. Remind Your Children that College Admissions Committees Don’t Judge Their Worth

Another common stressor for families with multiples undergoing the college admissions process stems from the concern that one child will feel less worthy than another when their college applications are evaluated. Sometimes, multiples present similar applications in terms of interests, grades, and test scores.


During most instances, when multiples present very similar applications, their admissions decisions will be the same. In fact, some admissions committees specifically review twin and multiple applications to ensure that similar decisions are made for similar applications.

At other times, though, the applications presented by twins or multiples are distinctly unique. When this is the case, applications will be evaluated differently and if siblings apply to the same schools, they may receive different admissions decisions. This can be a hard thing for families, but it will be easier if you have prepared your children in advance by reminding them of the bigger picture.


Make sure your children know that admissions committees are looking for students who shine on paper. They often have good grades and strong test scores, along with a variety of extracurriculars that easily translate onto an application. What college admissions committees often to struggle to measure is how kind a student is, what a good friend someone can be, and any number of less concrete but arguably more important factors. College admissions can sometimes seem unfair, but they aren’t a judgement of your child’s worth.


For more perspective on how college applicants are evaluated, see these posts:


What Type Of Student Do Colleges Want?

Know Your Reader: What Your College Admissions Committee Members Look Like



3. Consider Enlisting Some Help

Deadlines and test scores and finances, oh my!


With two or more kids going through college admissions at once, the paperwork and important dates can really add up. At the very least, you should employ an organizational system that works for your family. This might be a family calendar posted prominently, a shared organizational app, or a task manager like Trello. Efficiently sharing information, creating clear expectations, and ensuring that all members of the family have access to a common calendar should be top priorities.


Many families also find it helpful to bring a third party onboard. College guidance services vary from simply handling the paperwork and ensuring that everything gets submitted on time to managing the entire process closely, curating a college list, gathering scholarship applications, and editing application essays. Independent college counselors can be found in most areas through a simple online query, or the guidance counselor at your children’s school might be able to recommend someone.


Alternatively, you might consider an online college counselor to help. These services also vary widely, but in general they might be more convenient for busy families who struggle to coordinate times to meet in person.


To learn more about your role in the college application process, see these posts:


Parents, How Involved Should You be in the Application Process?

Parent Perspective: What You Need to Know About Today’s College Applications

How Can I Help My Child Prepare for College Applications?

What Parents Need to Know About SAT and ACT Studying Prep


Does your teen want access to expert college guidance — for free? When they create their free CollegeVine account, they will find out their real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve their profile, and get their questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Encourage them to sign up for their CollegeVine account today to get a boost on their college journey.

Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.