How Many Colleges Should You Apply To?
Some students apply to more than a dozen colleges, while others apply to one or two. But how many colleges should you really apply to?
Well, there is no magic number when it comes to applying to colleges. However, many experts recommend you apply to about five to ten schools. Consider these tips to narrow your college options and choose the right number of colleges to apply to for your situation.
Narrow your college choices.
If you hadn’t already noticed, dozens of colleges will send you brochures or e-mails. Do your research early, find out which ones interest you most, and then visit them in person if you can. To narrow your choices, ask yourself these questions: How big or small of a school do I want? Do I want to be in an urban, rural or suburban setting? Does the college have my major? Does the college offer clubs for activities I like to do? How close to home do I want to be?
Identify at least three colleges to apply to.
Most experts recommend you have a least one “safety” school (a school where you’re certain to be accepted), a “probable” school (one you’re likely to be admitted to, but the jury’s still out), and a “reach” school (a highly selective school it would be awesome to attend, but that only accepts a small number of students each year).
Having a good mix of schools on your list—ones you like and would be happy attending, even though they may not be your first choice—will ensure your applications are well-rounded so you’re sure to receive at least one (if not more!) college acceptance letter.
Consider application costs.
It can be costly to apply to colleges since many schools have application fees of $50 or more. Still, some colleges offer special promotions when you can apply for free. If you need to stick to a budget, be very selective with the schools you choose to apply to.
Also, make sure you’re on the e-mail lists of the colleges that interest you so you can receive notifications about special times when you can apply for free (if available.) If applying to any college is a financial hardship, talk to your admission counselors to see if the application fee can be waived.
If you’re still unsure how many colleges to apply to, schedule an appointment to talk with your high school guidance counselor. He or she can help you determine what your best options are and help you create a plan for applying to a manageable number of colleges.