How Many Colleges Should I Apply to in a Session?

Filed in Education by on March 27, 2022

– How Many Colleges Should I Apply to? –

You’re probably in your senior year of high school, juggling classes, extracurricular activities, and social life. College application deadlines are creeping up on the calendar. How many colleges should I apply to? You wonder. This article will guide you through.

how many colleges should i apply to

How Many Colleges Should I Apply to?

Most students apply to 8-12 colleges. This is a good number to aim for if thecolleges represented in your applications are diverse. Typically, you should apply to at least two safeties, four targets, and two reaches.

More than Numbers

Even if a student’s list contains a sufficient number of colleges, there is no guarantee that it contains the best colleges for that student. Janet Stetson, associate director of admission at Bard College, suggests asking the following questions to help a student narrow down their choices:

1. Has the student thoroughly researched each college (either online or on-campus)?

2. Is the college offering the courses and programs that the student is interested in?

3. What are the financial requirements of the student?

4. Is each college a good fit for the student’s academic and social needs and interests?

Narrowing the List

Students should have five to ten colleges in mind by the end of their junior year. This provides some leeway in the major selection, career plans, and potential financial aid or scholarship options.

Safety Colleges

Colleges with lax admissions policies are frequently referred to as “safety” schools. This term refers to colleges where the requirements mean that the applicant has little chance of being rejected.

Most students only apply to one safety, but a student may apply to both an academic and a financial safety.

Probable Colleges

A “probable” college is one that the student believes will meet his or her needs and desires; one that the student would gladly attend even if it is not the first choice.

In academic and social arenas, the student should meet the general admission criteria. A good rule of thumb is to have two to four potential colleges in mind.

Reach Colleges

These are the best options, but they are less likely to accept the student.

This could be because the student’s qualifications are comparable to or slightly below the college’s average, and competition for the limited spots in the freshman class is fierce. Students should choose one or two colleges from this list.

Sizing Up the Competition

Students must consider, in addition to their own abilities, the critical factors of a college’s selectivity and yield rates.

The first refers to the percentage of applicants accepted by a college, while the second refers to the percentage of accepted students who enrol.

Considerations Deciding How Many Colleges to Apply to

When deciding how many schools to apply to, you should consider what you want in a college as well as other priorities in your life. This is why:

‣ Applying to Colleges Takes Time

Applying to college is not a quick process. Each step of the application takes time, and each school’s requirements may differ slightly.

Colleges typically require an essay, which will take up a significant amount of your time when completing your application.

For example, the University of Wisconsin requires two 300-500-word essays that could take 10 to 20 hours to complete.

You must also factor in the time you will spend researching schools and gathering admissions information. Visiting college websites or speaking with contacts can take up far more time than you think.

In the end, just one school’s application process can take up to 30 hours. Imagine doing that 15 times in a row!

‣ College Application Fees Add Up

The average application fee at the country’s over 900 colleges is $44. If you apply to four schools, you’ll have to pay nearly $200 in application fees. If you apply to ten colleges, the application fees alone will cost you close to $500.

The charges don’t stop there. You should also think about how much it will cost to send your SAT and ACT scores to colleges.

You can send them to four schools for free, but you won’t be able to see your results before you send them.

You’ll have to pay $12 per score report if you want to know your test results before sending them to the colleges of your dreams.

The good news is that colleges and testing centres frequently waive fees for students who can demonstrate financial need. (However, keep in mind that applying for a fee waiver will take longer.)

‣ What Are Your Odds of Acceptance?

Before applying to any college, think about your chances of acceptance. Examine the college’s GPA and SAT/ACT score requirements and compare them to your own.

To give you an idea, the average high school GPA of Stanford University accepted students is 4.18, and the acceptance rate is only 4%.

While there’s nothing wrong with having an ambitious school on your list, if you have a less-than-perfect academic background, you might want to skip this one.

Penn State Hazleton has a high acceptance rate and a low GPA requirement of 3.16.

The college admits 94% of applicants, so those are some good odds! However, if your GPA is around 3.8, you might not get the academic challenge you’re looking for.

Admissions requirements can be found on a college’s admissions page. To save time, use a college acceptance calculator to determine your chances of admission to any school in the country.

‣ College Applications Require Energy

You must prepare your body and mind for the tasks associated with college application. The more schools you add to your list, the more work you will have to do.

The college application process can be physically and emotionally draining, especially if your acceptance chances are slim.

To make your efforts worthwhile, only apply to colleges where you intend to study.

You’ll save energy by reducing your to-do list and using it to improve the applications you do send.

Furthermore, if you truly mean what you say, it is easier to create personalized applications expressing why you are interested in a particular school.


‣ Choose Quality Over Quantity

To determine the number of colleges to which you should apply, think about what you really want from a college.

Then, make sure that it is compatible with the colleges to which you intend to apply. These are some of the most important considerations you’ll need to make out of the many you’ll have to make:

‣ Proximity

Consider how important it is to be close to home. Is it better for me to go to college in-state or out-of-state? You may want to save money and be close to your family, but you may also want to experience the thrill of a new city.

‣ Your Expectations

Try to figure out which colleges on your list can meet all of your requirements. Do they offer a wide range of programs and activities that you are interested in?

Do you believe the quality of your education will challenge you?

‣ Your Capabilities

Some schools require students to maintain a certain grade point average (GPA). Students at Columbia University, for example, must maintain a 3.0 GPA in order to remain enrolled.

If you do not believe you want to attend a school that requires a rigorous academic commitment, you should save your money for other college applications.

how many colleges should i apply to

When Should I Consider Applying to More Colleges?

If you are absolutely determined to attend a highly selective college, consider applying to more than 7-10 colleges.

Acceptance rates at top colleges are now well into the single digits. As a result, these schools receive far more qualified applicants than they can admit.

Many other factors are considered by the admissions committee in order to further narrow the pool of admitted students, and you will not know which other factors are being heavily weighed in advance. They will differ from one college to the next.

For example, Harvard may look to expand its pool of international students or incoming engineering majors.

Stanford may be looking to replace the football team’s kicker or admit more students interested in the performing arts.

Because you never know which specific hooks will be important at these top schools, applying to more of them is often a good strategy.

When Should I Consider Applying to Fewer Colleges?

Applying to fewer colleges isn’t always a good idea, but sometimes it’s necessary.

The most obvious reason for applying to fewer colleges is if you apply early decision. Here, you can only apply to one college, and if accepted, you must attend.

These applications are typically due in November, with decisions issued by December, well ahead of regular decision application deadlines.

If you apply and are accepted to your top early decision school, you will have only applied to one school.

This is not the only instance where students apply to fewer than seven colleges.

Cost is a factor that must be considered at times. While fee waivers are available for some students in need, the majority of students will end up paying up to $75 per college application.

You’ll also have to pay for SAT or ACT score reports. These expenses can quickly add up, and if you apply to ten colleges, you may end up spending more than $1000 on college applications.

College applications take time. Even if you apply to schools that accept the Common Application or the Coalition Application, you will almost always be required to write supplementary essays for many of them.

When you’re looking at 10 or more additional essays, this time adds up quickly.

Finally, a student’s needs may be so specific that the college list is automatically narrowed down to just a few colleges.

If you need to live at home during college, for example, you could simply apply to the 2-3 colleges within commuting distance.

You’ll only have a few options if you want to compete in Division I synchronized swimming.

The same is true if you’re thinking about a truly unique major or field of study. In some cases, you simply cannot find seven colleges to which you wish to apply.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Even if you are not applying early decision, we recommend that you apply to 7-10 colleges. Applying to more schools is worthwhile if you are determined to attend a particularly selective college and will bear the cost and time commitment of more applications.

If you have extremely specific needs or parameters for a college, you may not be able to find 7-10 that meet your requirements.

Finally, we recommend you apply to 7-10 colleges, but don’t apply to any that you won’t be happy attending.

Submitting applications to schools where you have no interest serves no purpose other than to demonstrate that you applied to the recommended number of colleges.

Instead, we recommend searching for as many schools as possible that meet your specific needs and priorities, then narrowing the list as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How Many Colleges Should I Apply to?

The majority of students should apply to 12 to 15 colleges.
There are no guarantees that you will be admitted to your preferred school, but you should have a general idea of your chances of admission at each school.

2. How many Colleges/Universities Should I Apply to?

Your college list should consist of 8-10 schools, with a good mix of safety, target, and reach schools.
If a student is applying to several highly competitive colleges, you may want to increase this number to 12.

3. How Many Colleges Can you Apply to on the Common App?

Remember that you can only add up to 20 colleges. You can change your college list.
You cannot remove those schools from your My Colleges list once you have submitted your application. * While some colleges may charge an application fee, others do not.

4. How Many Reach Schools are too Many for College Applications?

The College Board advises high school seniors to limit their application list to five to eight schools.
It’s fine to go a little outside of this range, but as a general rule of thumb, try to stay within those limits because sending over ten applications can have serious consequences.

5. What is a Good Amount of Colleges to Apply to?

There is no magic number, but five to eight applications ensure admission to a suitable institution (depending, of course, on the individual student’s record and circumstances).
This figure should be made up of “safety,” “probable,” and “reach” colleges.

6. What is the best way to Choose Colleges to Apply to?

Develop preferences. Each student needs to decide what’s important and what their needs will be over the course of the next four years
Consider abilities
Factor in interests
Do research
Talk to non-professionals too
Visit campus
Be open.

7. How Many Top-tier Universities Should I Apply to?

Many applicants seek a formula for determining how many reach, target, and backup schools to apply to.
In order to maximize admission chances, applicants should apply to 6-10 target schools, 2-3 safety schools, and 3-6 reach schools.

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CSN Team.

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