One of the questions most frequently asked by college applicants is how many applications they should plan to submit. The answer? Well, as with so many things about the college process, it depends. There are prospective students who will apply to one college and others who will apply to 30 or more. Here at College Essay Whiz, we’ve consolidated the thoughts of several articles for your consideration:
1. Even if you apply Early Decision or Early Action, you won’t hear from these schools until very close to mid-December, which means that you have to prepare your other applications regardless of whether you are accepted or not. With high school winter vacations complicating the process, since your school guidance counselor will not be accessible over the break to answer questions or send out the school’s part of late-breaking applications, you need to be ready to send out those applications.
2. It is possible that your ED or EA school will defer your application to the regular applicant pool. Rather than choose other schools at random, you need a solid list.
3. The average recommended number of applications is anywhere from 10 to 15 colleges, including three or four “reach” schools, three or four “target” schools, and three or four “safety” schools. Applying to 30 or 35 schools may be exciting, but it is also expensive and eventually confusing.
4. If you have specific requirements for your college–for example, you wish to attend only schools within commuting distance from your current home or you plan to participate in a unique activity not offered at many colleges–your list might be on the shorter side of the spectrum.
5. If you’re primarily applying to selective schools, i.e., schools with acceptance rates in the single digits, you should consider applying to more schools (somewhere between 12 and 15 schools, depending on time and financial resources).
6. Remember that there are fees for submitting applications that add up quickly (though do take a look at CEW’s blog post about fee waivers to see if you qualify for them!). Thirty applications at an average of $75 each can cost over $2,000!
7. Your strongest applications are going to be for the schools you know really well and genuinely want to attend, and you only have so much time to do stellar and thorough work.
8. Apply only to schools you genuinely want to attend or that your parents would allow you to accept.
9. Continue doing your research. Don’t be afraid to eliminate a school from your list if you no longer feel it is right for you.
10. Have an open mind as you peruse the list of schools on the Common App and the Coalition App. Just because you haven’t heard of a school or seen anyone wear its t-shirt doesn’t mean it isn’t a great fit for you.
Use the resources that are available to you including the advice of your counselor and an advisor like College Essay Whiz!