The Pingry Ethicist is a column by Sasha Bauhs '25, founder of the Pingry Ethics Bowl Team, second year captain of Pingry Ethics Bowl, and a member of Ethics Hirt. Modeled after the New York Times The Ethicist column, which is run by philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, it aims to tackle your questions on life’s moral dilemmas.
I got into my Early Action, which was my top choice, but I want to apply to other schools.
A couple of weeks ago, I was accepted into my Early Action school, which was my top choice. Although I was ecstatic to receive this news, there are a few other colleges I have my eye on. I am afraid that I will later regret not applying to these schools, so I want to go for it and shoot my shot.
I am afraid that my classmates will resent me if they find I applied to other competitive schools after I got into my top-choice. After all, the spot I take could be theirs. What should I do?
Firstly, congratulations on your acceptance! I understand you may be having issues with the ethical ramifications of applying to other schools. At the forefront of this decision is the right to your personal autonomy. You should have the freedom to make whatever decision you see as right. As long as you would seriously consider an acceptance to another school, it is morally permissible to apply. For example, if you think another school might provide more financial aid. From a deontological point of view, however, it is your responsibility to know enough about each school you plan on applying Regular Decision to that you know you would consider accepting that spot. Moreover, it is a common misconception that schools have a set quota for each high school. Although they will compare you to your peers and pick the strongest fit for them, there is no way to determine if your spot at these colleges would otherwise go to one of your classmates.
All in all, it is not morally justifiable to collect acceptances as trophies to put on your shelf, as that would be unnecessarily selfish. Applying to schools you wouldn’t consider not only takes the spot of another student (nationally), but can be a wasteful and unnecessary financial burden.
Therefore, it is morally permissible to apply to other schools, as long as you would genuinely consider accepting that offer.
Deontological (Deontology): Ethical decision making is based on your duties.
Got a moral dilemma? Submit your question to firstname.lastname@example.org with The Pingry Ethicist in the subject heading. Questions can be pertaining to whatever you are interested in to receive an ethically justified response.
Contact: Sara Courtney, Communications Writer