“Do They Want to Go to the Same College?” is the New “Are They Twins?”

It’s an exciting time here in the Tinglof household, albeit a stressful one. My twins have finally turned in all their college applications. Now, the waiting begins. This is the easy part—trust me—as navigating a multitude of college applications, brainstorming, writing, and editing dozens of essays, making those midnight deadlines (yes, my boys were notorious for waiting until the very. last. possible. minute), and just the general hand-wringing has been a wee-bit…how should I say? Unbearable! Maybe it’s having two go through the process at once or maybe it’s a “boy thing” as so many parents of college-bound girls have told me that their daughters were very self motivated but this has not been the case for my fraternal twin sons.

But thankfully that’s in the past, and now we are looking to the future.

Yet the topic of college seems to follow us everywhere we go. From family and friends to neighbors and colleagues, everybody wants to know my boys’ future plans. As soon as we greet, and the pleasantries are out of the way, the topic quickly turns to college and the first question is always the same: “Do they want to go to the same college?”


Just like that innocent question, “Are they twins?” that we all heard ad nauseam when our multiples were babies and toddlers, “Do they want to go to the same college?” is getting a bit old and tiresome. Yet even as I type this I feel like a curmudgeon for admitting that it bugs me. After all, wasn’t I the one who chastised moms in a blog post more than two years ago for getting annoyed at well-meaning folk who would stop them in public to ask if their children were twins? Yup, that was me!

Yes, the question does get a tad annoying at times especially if one or both of your babies are crying or you’re in a rush to get home in time for their afternoon nap. But should you really allow someone’s genuine interest and fascination in you and your twins ruin your day? Sour your mood? Turn you into a Grinch?

So, why is “Do they want to go to the same college” different? What’s changed? And what’s so bad about the question?

twin quote

I’m still not completely sure. I know that when people ask they are genuinely interested in my boys, and they are just trying to make polite conversation. There’s no subterfuge in their asking. I shouldn’t be annoyed. But I am!

But the question—at least to me—smacks of stereotyping. They are twins. All twins have the same likes and dislikes. All twins are soul mates and inseparable. Therefore, if one goes to College X, the other will follow.

I’m not sure I know any twins that are hell-bent on deliberately going to the same university. I’m sure they exist but my guess is that each twin decides what is best for himself, just like any college-bound kid. Furthermore, I think for many twins, the thought of heading to different universities would be liberating, a chance to do your own thing. Reinvent yourself. It would sadden me if my boys chose to go to the same college simply because his cotwin was going.

But I guess it’s the word want that truly gets me. That word connotes dependency, as if all twins couldn’t bear to be without each other. (Once again, stereotyping multiples.) Yes, my twins may end up at the same school but it would be for many other reasons such as they both want to stay in the state of California or that they both want to study something in the engineering field, both reasons limiting their choice of schools. Want doesn’t factor into it.

For the record, my boys are patient and polite when they hear the question. Just like politicians, they smile and issue a prepared statement, a 30-second soundbite: “We’ve never discussed it. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s a non issue. Either way is OK.”

And I, with forced smile, have learned to say the same.