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How Many Colleges Should I Apply To

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How Many Colleges Should You Apply To Expert Guide

How Many Colleges Should I Apply To?

Many students stress over the same question: “How many colleges should I apply to?”;How many is too many? How few is too few? There is so much disagreement on this topic, even among experts, that many students are left confused and unsure.

In this article, Ill clear up this;confusion. Ill give you an idea of how many schools you should apply to and explain the factors to consider when deciding how many colleges to apply to.;After reading this guide, you’ll feel confident about crafting your own college list and how long it will be.

You Dont Have Much Time After You Receive Your Acceptances To Make Your College Decision

Most colleges send their acceptance notices in the beginning of April, and typically, you only have until May 1 to select which college youre going to attend.;If youre deciding between multiple colleges at this point, youll only have a few weeks to potentially take campus visits, compare the financial aid packages youre offered, and do any necessary research to pick a college.

The more colleges that accept you, the more stressful and difficult these few weeks may be for you, if youre still unsure about which college is best for you.

How Many Colleges Should You Apply To

Most students should apply to somewhere between 12 to 15 colleges. There are no guarantees that you will be accepted to your desired school, but you should have a rough idea about your chances of admission to each school. These colleges should be a mix of target, reach, and likely schools, any of which youd be happy to attend.

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Narrowing Down Your List:

The best way to narrow down your list of colleges is by considering the majors offered, the total cost of education, campus culture, accommodation options, rankings, local job or internship opportunities, rankings, and summer/winter weather.

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the USfor FREE!

Look At College Rankings And Admit Rates

How many colleges should I apply to?

Even if youre a competitive applicant, most of the high-ranking schools should be considered reach schools — especially if the school accepts less than 30% of applicants.;

Generally, you can check a colleges admit rate for the last application cycle on their admissions website. And there are many websites where you can check college rankings.;

Sure, those college rankings are not always indicative of how good the school is or how hard it is to be admitted. But they are a good place to start.

For reference, the most popular college ranking list is the U.S. News and World Reports Best National University Rankings.;

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Completing Your Application List

Now that youve sorted your picks into these categories, you can balance out your application list by choosing a number of each. Its typically advised that students apply to one or two safeties, two to four good matches, and one to two reaches. Applying to a selection of schools will maximize your chances of being accepted somewhere youll enjoy. If youre successfully identified at least one good safety school, you should have confidence that youll receive at least one acceptance letter come spring.

Overall, you should think carefully before wasting the effort of applying to more than eight colleges because the general rule of thumb is that quality is better than quantity. Instead of cranking out applications like a machine, take the time to complete each application with care and answer each question thoroughly. Make an effort to show admission committees that youre serious about joining and improving their campus community. From there, youll have the best chance of;crafting impressive college applications;and receiving acceptance letters from colleges offering you a spot in their upcoming freshman class.

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What Are Reach Schools

Reach schools are your dream schools. For a lot of students, a reach school is one of the Ivy Leagues. Their academic programs, athletics, social activities, and campus captivate you. If the school asked, youd pack up your stuff, move there tomorrow, and start classes.

The name reach also implies that it might be a bit of a stretch for you to get accepted. Your SAT scores, ACT scores and/or GPA are likely below their set range or maybe your scores are okay, but the school has extremely low acceptance rates. At these schools, your in-person interview, recommendation letters, and personal essays make all of the difference. To get in, youll need someone to see your potential.

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Need More Advice On Applying To Top

Here at AdmissionSight, we know how stressful and demanding the entire college application process can be for students. That is especially true for students who are determined to apply to and get into some of the most prestigious and competitive schools in the world. Of course, students are going to feel pressure, but the ideal outcome is that the planning a student did leading up to this experience will make it as smooth as possible.

We love helping students accomplish their lofty goals. Thats why were so proud of the fact that 75 percent of the students that we work with end up getting accepted to an Ivy league or top-10 school in the United States. If you think you would benefit from our guidance, feel free to contact us today to set up a free consultation.

How Do You Identify Colleges Right For You

Ask Admissions: How many colleges should I apply to, and which ones?

This will depend on your unique criteria. Somestudents will want a college close to home, others may look at careerpositioning and hence go for colleges that have a great name and prestige. Some may choose based on financial requirements and they apply just becausetheir friends are going there. So it depends on your unique needs. That said afew criteria you can apply are:

  • Financial requirements Here you may need to get financial aid or maybe schools where it is easy for you to get a part-time job. This is an important factor because paying college fees can be a problem even if your academic scores are within range. Although if it is a college that is on your reach list, you can still apply and explore how you can afford the cost.
  • College rankings -This can be a huge decision making factor as most students would like to ensure that the colleges they choose have high rankings. This may help in their job search and also can be a status and position tool. Some students may not bother with rankings and may have other criteria. The ranking does help but they are not to be the only criteria you should consider when choosing a college.
  • Location Believe it or not for some students being in a city or a specific location may also be one of the top reasons they are applying to colleges.

Now let us look at some specific questions andclarify common doubts that students have at this point in applying for colleges.

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How Many Safety Target And Reach Schools Should You Have On Your College List

So, now you know a balanced school list has a miss of safety, target, and reach schools. But how many should you have of each?;

Well, that will depend on how many schools you decide to apply to. But a good rule of thumb is to create a college list that contains 25% Safety schools, 50% Target schools, and 25% Reach schools.

And this worksheet is a good resource for applying what youve learned so far when selecting the schools.;

How Many Colleges Should I Apply To

A great sculptor stares at a giant hunk of stone and can visualize, in their minds eye, a finished work of art; the average person just sees a rock. When it comes to the task of creating a list of prospective colleges, most teens and their parents are intimidated and understandably so. In the realm of higher education, the giant hunk of stone are the more than 3,000 four-year colleges and universities in the United States. From this unwieldy list, your task is to ultimately find a select number of schools that are affordable, accessible, and a quality fit.; Fortunately, this type of sculpting doesnt require the talent of a Michelangelo or a Rodin. A bit of knowledge, realistic self-assessment, and a willingness to step back and see the big picture is all that is required to sculpt a perfect list out of that massive, intimidating boulder from which each list is born.

This blog will answer the following questions:

  • How do I identify the perfect college for me?
  • How many colleges should I apply to?
  • How do I pick a safety school?
  • How do I pick a reach school?
  • How do I pick s a target school?
  • What are common mistakes students make when creating a college list?

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When Youre Visiting During The College Search Do You Notice Happy Students

For the same reasons, youll want to find out if students are happy at any college or university youre considering.

  • Do students feel supported?
  • Are they able to find a comfortable balance between school and life?

Most college review websites offer rankings or statistics on overall student happiness at a variety of colleges and universities.

You can also ask current students if they like the school and if they feel that they and a majority of their friends and classmates are happy.

Sizing Up The Competition

How Many Colleges Should I Apply to? Heres Your Answer

In addition to their own abilities, students must consider the crucial factors of a college’s selectivity and yield rates. The first is associated with the percentage of applicants that a college accepts; the second means the percentage of accepted students who actually enroll. This information which can be easily obtained from college admission staff,;our College Handbook or;on College Search; helps to determine a student’s chances of getting into specific colleges.

Debra Wingood, who worked in admission at;colleges such as;Tufts, Georgetown and Duke, tells students preparing for college applications: “Make an informed forecast by studying the admission process, the colleges and, most importantly, yourself. …;Plan on investing time and effort as you probe, question and evaluate. Use your resources; seek insight from those you know.”

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How Many Colleges Is Too Many

Whatever your personal situation, the reality is that you are almost certainly applying to more colleges than did prospective students of just a few generations ago. Forbes points out that, according to 2015 statistics from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 36 percent of first-time freshman applicants applied to seven or more colleges, just over double the percentage from a decade earlier.

The broader college landscape is actually more accessible than ever before.

Choose Quality Over Quantity

To determine the number of colleges you should apply to, its important to carefully consider what you really want out of a college. Then, make sure that aligns with the colleges you choose to apply to. Of the many considerations youll need to take into account, these are some of the top:


Ask yourself: how important is it to be close to home? Do I want to attend college in-state or out-of-state? You may want to save money and stay close to your family, but perhaps you also want to experience the excitement of a new city.

Your Expectations;

Try to identify which colleges on your list can fully meet your expectations. Do they have a good variety of programs and activities that interest you? Do you think the quality of education will be enough to challenge you?

Your Capabilities;

Some schools require students to maintain a minimum GPA. To stay enrolled at Columbia University, for example, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA. If you dont think you want to attend a school that requires rigorous academic commitment, it may be better to save your resources for other college applications.

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Costs And Financial Aid

For most people, college is a huge financial investment. The average tuition cost per year at private universities is $35,087. The yearly average for public universities is $21,184 for out-of-state students and $9,687 for in-state students.;

So, you need to consider how much you and your family are willing to invest in your education and/or how much financial aid youre likely to get.;

If youre likely to get need-based financial aid, you may be better off applying to private colleges over public ones. Why? Because even though private colleges have higher tuition than public colleges, private colleges are often more likely to offer more generous need-based financial aid packages.

Dont forget to also apply for scholarships! We have a guide that walks you through how and when to start applying for scholarships. So, be sure to check that out if you have any doubts.;

But If I Apply To 15 Reach Schools I’m More Likely To Get In Right

Admissions 101: How many colleges should I apply to?

Statistically, yes. But consider these factors:

  • Cost: Most elite schools have application fees of $60 or more. You’ll also need to pay for extra score reporting when you apply to a lot of schools: $15 for AP and $12;for ACT and SAT.
  • Match: Did you really visit 15 reach schools and find that each one felt right for you? A student who thrives in the urban environment of Columbia University would probably go batty in the rural location of Williams College. And a small liberal arts college is a very different academic environment than a large comprehensive university.
  • Time: The applications, especially at competitive schools, take a lot of time to complete. Do you really have several hours to devote to each of those 15 applications? Don’t be fooled by the so-called “Common” Application. Top colleges and universities will be looking for the personal touch…
  • The Personal Touch: Most select schools have supplements to the application that ask questions about why you feel you are a good match for the school, or what specifically about the school you find appealing. To complete these essay questions well, you need to research the schools and be specific. A generic answer about the school’s reputation and great faculty will not impress anyone. If you can cut and paste your supplemental essay from one application into the next, you haven’t done the assignment well.

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How Many Colleges Should I Apply To How Many Reaches Safety Schools

Many college guidance counselors say that nine is about as many colleges as you should consider. Any more than that, and it becomes difficult to really focus on your applications and target each one. If youve got too many schools, they all tend to run together in your head, and its harder to think about why you really, really want to go to each one. If you dont really, really want to go to each one, why are you applying there at all? Colleges can tell when you arent enthusiastic, and you wouldnt want your top school to think you didnt care that much about them simply because you were so worn down from applying to twenty other schools that you couldnt give this one your all on the application. The amount of reach and safety schools you want to apply to depends. Instead of classifying each school as reach or safety, try to go for a range. Youll have one school that youre almost positive youll get into, and one that youd be flabbergasted if did get into, but put a mix in between for the rest of your schools. That way you wont necessarily feel like youre settling if you didnt get into your dream school, because you may have gotten into a school thats not quite as prestigious but better than your safety school! Just like good investing, you want a diverse portfolio that will give you a lot of options.

Executive Director and FounderMurphy College Consultants LLC

Apply To At Least Two Safety Schools

Its also essential to apply to at least two safety schools.

These are schools that you are almost certain will send you an acceptance letter.

You want to be positive during admission season, but its also important to have a backup plan.

  • An acrobat wouldnt perform without a safety net, and a high school senior shouldnt apply to colleges without a few safety schools.

Your safety schools will likely be your last choices.

At the same time, try to find safety schools that you would be reasonably happy to attend.

If the reach schools and target schools dont work out, you dont want to be left without any college options at all.

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What Is A Safety School

A safety college is a college where your credentialsyour grades and test scoresare better than those of the average admitted students, and where you are likely to be admitted.; Youll also want to make sure that one or two of your safeties are also financial safety schools. Places where your parents are comfortable covering 100% of the tuition plus room, board and other fees through some combination of savings, a 529 account, or low-interest government loans.

Another important point here is that Ivy League and other elite colleges are rarely, if ever, safety schools. These schools receive applications from many more top-notch students than they are able to admit. Even if you are the valedictorian of your high school class with stratospheric test scores, schools with single-digit admit rates should never be considered safety schools.

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