How Many Colleges Should I Apply To?

Posted by Tara Tomasko on Dec 15, 2016 3:00:00 PM

You have narrowed down your list of colleges you're interested in and now you're tasked with putting the pedal to the metal and actually applying. With the competitive admissions trend booming, should students go application crazy? The question on every college bound student’s mind is: how many college should I apply to?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to that question because it really depends on your personal situation or preferences. The standard suggested number students should apply to colleges is between 6-8 schools. The thought behind this is you will sort out the schools you are interested in and categorize them into safeties, target, and reaches.

“Safety” colleges
This term refers to universities where you well beyond meet the requirements and there would be little chance of rejection. Applying to a safety school does not have to be because of academic safety but also financial safety. Students should apply to one to two safety schools.

“Target” colleges
This term refers to universities where you meet the necessarily requirements and have a decent chance of gaining admission. This is also a university where a student's feels they will be fulfilled socially and academically, even if it is not their first choice. Students should apply to two to four target schools.

“Reach” colleges
This term refers to universities where they are less likely to accept you. This may be because of your qualifications may fall slightly short of what they are looking for, or competition is extremely limited for incoming freshman. Students should apply to one to two reach schools.

Although it is important to have safety schools, be mindful in the schools you choose. Do not apply to any schools you could not see yourself actually attending. It will be a waste of your time and application fee.

While there is no limit to the number of schools you can apply to, keep in mind the time and money that it takes to apply to each college. Ultimately the decision is up to you and what you feel most comfortable with after evaluating your list of colleges you are interested in.
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