How many schools should I apply to?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

How many schools should I apply to?

Don Tamminga

How many schools should I apply to?

That depends...generally the less sure you are of what you want to do and where you want to go, the more schools you should apply to. I encourage students to create a list of a couple of reach colleges which they may or may not be accepted into, four target colleges which they would be happy to go to and would meet their needs and they likely would be accepted to and the a coouple colleges as a back up plan whcih they know they can get into if all else fails.

Leigh Spence

Not 31!

I recommend that students not apply to more than 10 colleges at the very most and three to five is a very manageable number. I always suggest applying to a safety school (one the student knows he/she can get in), a reach school (one that he/she is uncertain they can get in) and a dream school (the "if-all-the-planets-are-in-alignment" school.) I once had a student apply to 31 colleges and that was WAY too many!

Robin Farris

Safety, Good Chance or reach....How many should a student apply to?

I typically ask students to apply to three reach, three good chance and two to three safety schools, one of which should be a financial, just in case their financial aid package doesn't meet their needs

Trevor Creeden
Director of College and Career Counseling Delaware County Christian School

How many schools should I apply to?

It is always best to apply to six schools. Two schools that are considered "reach" or "highly competitive" schools for you, two schools that are "moderately competitive" or your GPA and test scores are where their ranges are, and two "safety" or "fallback" schools that your GPA and tests scores are above what they are looking for. It should be a flexible list that fits your GPA and test score ranges.

Maren Kroger-Diamond

"Magic Formula" 3 - 3 - 3

Myth: You have a better chance of being accepted somewhere if you apply to as many colleges as your application fee budget allows; or, to as many colleges your parents will agree to pay for the app fees. Reality: IF you take the time to do your homework by researching the schools you are interested in and perhaps finding the schools that may be a best fit for you, you may only need to apply to 9 colleges. An excellent place to start your research is at, click on "Students", at next screen scroll down and click on "College Search". Have your current GPA and SAT scores on hand. The "Magic Formula 3 - 3 - 3" First 3: Your "reach" schools. Everything in your application package has to be near perfect for admission. Think, your dream schools. Second 3: Your "probable" schools. In other words, you meet the minimum requirements for admission. Third 3: Your "likely" schools. You exceed the minimum requirements for admission. Some may think of this category as their fall back schools. Best of luck to you.

Nancy Caine
Director of College Counseling St. Augustine High School

Nancy Caine

The number of schools you apply to often depends on what you are looking for in a college. The usual advice is to apply to at least one college you know you can get in and afford, two-three colleges where your profile fits their criteria very well, and one or two schools that look like "reasonable reaches". Sometimes you may be limited by your own finances and cannot apply to so many schools. On the other hand, with so many colleges offering free applications, you may actually be able to extend your quest and apply to more. Students looking for money often need to apply more broadly, and sometimes those looking for sports opportunities need to do so as well. At any rate, limiting yourself to no more than ten seems to be a good suggestion, and pervents too much anguish in the spring when you have to make a decision on one school.


Number of schools

A reasonable number of schools you should apply to is 4-6.

Tiffany Schweickert

How many schools should I apply to?

Two to three

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

Number of schools to apply to:

I typically recommend that my students' apply to 5 schools; there number 1 school after visiting and taking the standardized test that gives them a good indicator if the school will consider their application. I suggest that the 1st choice and 2nd choice are early action, (not early decision which is binding) and schools 3-5 after they have visited but before January to beat the late crowd of second semester applicants.

Counselor Milpitas High School

If I were applying to a four year college or university

I would pick 6 to 10 schools.