Twins Applying to the Same College: How to Approach Admissions as Siblings
June 24, 2019
Twins Applying to the Same College: How to Approach the Admissions Process as Siblings
You’re comparing your college list with your twin, and surprise! You both have the same dream school. Science hasn’t identified the genetic code behind college selection, but your lists may be remarkably similar. There are a lot of questions on your mind, and naturally so. Are twins applying to the same college a good or a bad thing? Are you more likely to be accepted if you both apply, or less likely? How do you go on navigating an already stressful process with this added layer?
You could be the type of twin pair who has done everything together for as long as you can remember, from enjoying the same subjects in school to playing on the same soccer team. Or you might have grown past the matching outfits in your early days and set off to find completely different sets of friends, academic paths, and extracurricular activities. Either way, when the alarm goes off for thinking about college options, it’s definitely helpful to start familiarizing yourself with the protocol and admissions process for twins applying to the same college.
As identical as you and your twin might be, the two of you are unique individuals and will (for the most part) remain treated as such by admissions officers if you decide to apply to the same college. To guide you through how to navigate the admissions process as a twin, I’ve outlined some policies and notable stances schools take regarding twins applying to the same college, colleges which provide tuition discounts for twins, and how to strategize and boost the chances for college admissions when it comes to twins applying to the same college.
Policies at Different Colleges Regarding Twins
There’s not an overwhelming amount of data released on twins applying to the same college, and how the admissions process works behind the scenes. A lot of college profiles used to include the number of twins in their incoming stats, but only a few continue to track such info today, including the College of Charleston in South Carolina. However, when exceptional cases arise, such as the 35 (yes, thirty five!) sets of twins in Temple University’s Class of 2022, it’s definitely worth taking note.
Most schools do not have separate policies in their admissions protocol when it comes to twins, but maintain that they review applications individually. If students are asked to note it on the applications, some colleges may want to accept or reject both twins, as they respect the value of sharing a college experience with someone as close as a twin. Accepting both twins also could make it more likely that they enroll, which can help colleges keep up a higher yield rate. At the end of the day, since admissions officers read applications from the same high school and area together, it’s very likely that they notice twin applications and make the connection themselves, even if the twin-ness is not explicitly stated.
According to our Former Admissions Reader from Rice University, Adrienne Gilbert, “At Rice we would consider each twin applicant individually on their own merits, but I found that in my cases of twin files, almost always both twins were admitted.”
She added, “We didn't have a policy or any standing rule that if we have twins/multiples, they would be treated in a different manner. But I actually found that twin files almost read identical to one another more often than not. In those cases, since the applications were near identical, they often received the same admission decision.”
There is an option on the many college supplements which asks whether a student has a sibling in the same applicant pool. For example, Stanford University includes the following:
Of course, this doesn’t always have to mean a twin, as someone could have a sibling who is transferring, or even graduating early. Stanford admissions officers are “sensitive” to twins, though they do treat them as individuals and read each of their applications separately.
According to David Merson, our Former Admissions Reader at Brown, admissions officers want to know from the twins themselves whether they are okay with both twins not being admitted. They ask for this information via an alumni interview or through email. The general belief at the school is that it’s both or nothing, which can make matters difficult for a more qualified twin.
Duke specifically asks applicants to check whether they are part of a pair of twins applying. They reportedly use this information to avoid any errors when sorting their files in case the pairs’ names and emails sound similar.
Having two kids from one family going to college in the same year can pose a financial burden to families. Some cities have twins clubs which offer scholarships and support to families of twins. A few schools around the United States offer financial aid discounts for twins. These are:
- Carl Albert State College in Oklahoma (Paula Nieto Twin Scholarship)
- George Washington University in Washington, DC (50% discount for second sibling)
- Kelley School of Business at Indiana University (Layton Frazier McKinley scholarship for identical twins)
- Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio (each twin gets the scholarship in alternate years)
- Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia (waives tuition for one twin if both are enrolled full-time)
- Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (Twin Value Room Waivers provide two-for-one housing allowances for twins that attend the school together)
- Randolph-Macon Women's College in Lynchburg, VA (15% discount)
- Sterling College in Kansas (50% discount for each twin)
- West Chester University of Pennsylvania (Bonnie Evans Feinberg Scholarship)
- Wilson College in Pennsylvania (45% scholarship to one set of twins each year)
Often the information about twin policies and sibling discounts isn’t readily available. To find out more on individual school policies regarding twins applying to the same college, you might have to dig deep or call the admissions office or financial aid office and inquire on the specifics.
Strategy for Applying as Twins
So, how do you approach the admissions process when it comes to twins applying to the same college? It will be helpful to talk through your lists together and see whether you’re actually interested in going to the same school and spending the next four years at the same place. Yes, your relationship might be excellent, your activities could be the same, and you might end up having the same group of friends. But if you want to pursue other interests and don’t want to be roommates for another four years, make it clear, so as to avoid expectations or arguments about it later.
Then there’s the pleasant task of talking about what happens if one of you gets in and the other doesn’t. This is more of a possibility if one of you has a much stronger profile than the other. It’s good to start thinking early about that scenario because one of you might grow resentful if only your twin is accepted. As the admissions process becomes all the more competitive, at InGenius Prep we’ve seen multiple cases where one twin receives admissions offers at all of their top schools, and the other gets waitlisted across the board. And it’s not always the twin whom the family expects to find admissions success! This scenario is agonizing, with one twin so close yet so far. But in today’s cutthroat application process, admissions officers have to be ruthless, even with sets of twins. You must be realistic and apply with these outcomes in mind.
Since most colleges do state that they look at applications individually and many don’t even ask if you have a sibling applying, the best option for you is to focus on boosting your own application. Even if a college does consider the twin factor, they won’t simply accept you just because your twin happens to be an incredible candidate. You must meet the standards of the college yourself to receive admission. But in the same way that you should consider how you stand out from other top candidates from your high school, it’s all the more important to consider differentiating yourself from the one who shares your last name and address. Remember that your applications would be typically read side by side, while also understanding that you don’t always come as a package deal.
Approach college admissions strategically and understand how being a twin plays a role for your application process. Don’t overthink applying to the same college as your twin too much, and instead work on your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars. If you want to go to a top national university or liberal arts college, make sure you take the most challenging courses and excel in them. Top schools look for students who’ve performed well under a rigorous academic load. Your twin isn’t going to take the SAT for you either, so you should both prepare - study together if that’s what works for you, but getting a respectable standardized test score is up to you!
You both need to stand out in your communities. Joining the same clubs as your twin might sound fun, but you have to think about how you will establish yourself as a leader in your community. You can each start your own organization or non-profit. Even if you and your twin have similar interests, there are ways you can distinguish yourselves. If you’re both interested in engineering, one of you could focus more on your leadership in the robotics club, while the other could get involved in a research lab at a local university. If you’re both writers, one of you could specialize in non-fiction and try getting published in newspapers or journals, while the other could focus on fiction and start a creative writing club or literary magazine.
Another essential way to stand out in your application is through the personal statement. Remember this is an essay about you, and not your twin. You both may have grown up under similar circumstances, but there will be stories that you can tell that your twin can’t, and vice versa.
When it comes to twins applying to the same college, it’s important to go into the admissions process with the mindset that it might be both or neither of you who are accepted. But don’t let that stop you from working hard to build your individual profile. If you are both standout leaders in your community with strong academic and extracurricular profiles, you will know that you gave it your best shot!