How many schools should I apply to?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

How many schools should I apply to?

Yolanda Spiva
Executive Director Project GRAD Atlanta, Inc.

You Should Apply to As Many Schools As You're Interested In!

While college application fee affordability is certainly a consideration, you should apply to as many schools as you have an interest, if you are able to apply to multiple schools. I encourage students to focus on their goals for college admission, as opposed to getting bogged down in the number of schools to which they have applied. If you are interested in programs of diverse types, at ten schools, for example--then apply to ten schools! The only caution I would provide is that should you gain admission to multiple schools which are equal in type, characteristics, and offerings, YOUR decision for which school to enroll in, will become all the more difficult. Further, you are unlikely to be able to visit all of the schools to which you apply, unless they are in an area proximate to one another, and college visitation is of utmost importance to determine the college's visit for your personality and academic goals. In sum, you should apply to schools based on your professional, personal, and academic interests, but don't overdo it to simply brag about the number of schools to which you have applied. When you apply to multiple schools, you are able to entertain the variety of scholarship, academic and other offerings, upon which to base your decision. At the end of the day, you should apply to college to gain admission, not accolades and popularity!

Kim Love

To How Many Colleges Should I Apply

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Students should start with about 15 schools and narrow the list to about 6 or 7. It is important that the school feels right to you. Once you have narrowed your list it is really important to visit as many schools as you can before narrowing the list further or making a final decision.

ting huang


I think 5 universities will be the best choice. While we have choose those 5 universities in different levels. 2 universities are the one you wanna go most and there is a little possibility to be admitted and just wanna have a try; 1 university is that there is 60% to get admission; 2 universities are we have 85% to be admitted. And mostly important is that those universities are the one I want to enter and there are something is good for me. For example, University of Massachusetts-boston, we have to say that in Boston there are a lot of famous universites, while we are going to study there, we can get a better academic experience there, and also Boston is a good city. Then I think this university will be a good choice for those who are not egible to study in Harvard ones. For undergraduate student, we should focus on undergraduate academic study, campus life and class size and school communities, activities.

Diana Hanson
Common Sense College Counseling College Mentors

It all depends

The number of schools is less important than making sure you have a great mix of schools. Have you selected colleges that meet your needs academically and socially? Assuming you have, I usually recommend having 2-3 colleges in each category of enrollment expectation--reach, target, and safety. Though, of course, many students will have more or fewer on their list. Generally, students who are able to visit colleges ahead of time will have fewer on their application list than those who won't be visiting in person until after they receive acceptances. I also recommend making sure that your safety schools are all colleges you'd enjoy attending. (I define a safety school is one where your grades and test scores are above the middle 50% for that college and where the college accepts at least half the applicants...and remember that these are also the colleges where you have the best chance of receiving merit aid).

Judy Zodda
Founder and President Zodda College Services

How many schools should I apply to?

You should apply to a range of schools including 3 reaches, 3 -4 targets and 2 safeties. So between 9-10 schools should be more than enough. Some students decide to forego applying to reach schools and that is fine. Just make sure you've done your research on your target and safety schools. Make sure that you have one financial safety!

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

The number of colleges you should apply to

I recommend that a student apply to 6-8 colleges they have researched and feel would be a good fit. The numbers of applications being submitted by many students is ridiculous; they are known as "stealth applications". These are applications to colleges that have not been researched or "vetted" by the student, they are just applying in case they don't get in anywhere else. Please don't do this! Research your colleges, visit your colleges in person or online, contact the admissions rep's at the colleges to introduce yourself and perhaps set up an interview. Don't be a stealth applicant. If you truly do your homework and know the colleges you are applying to, there is no reason to apply to more than 10 at the very most.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

How many schools should I apply to?

Most students should apply to 6-9 schools.

Anne Richardson
Director of College Counseling, International & ESL Programs Kents Hill School

How many schools should I apply to?

The number is not as important as the range of schools. It is always important to apply to a range of schools - some reaches on down to some likely schools. A range is especially important if finances are going to figure into your choice of schools. Again, apply to a range of schools, remembering that some of the more expensive private schools have much better aid packages than state and public schools. Above all, each school on your list should be a school that you have researched; each school on your list should be a school where you can see yourself happily studying and living next fall.

Dale Ford
Counseling Department Chair Singapore American School

It depends...

If you have an absolute first choice school and you don’t require financial aid you should definitely apply Early Decision (ED) if that’s an option for your first choice school. Wait to hear and then apply to more places if you are deferred or denied. Colleges love to be loved (and want to know which students are really planning to attend) so ED improves the odds. If ED is not an option, apply to a couple of colleges likely to admit you, a couple mid range, and a couple reach schools. Just make certain that you will be admitted to at least one place where you would be happy to spend your next four years.

Darryl Jones
Sr. Associate Director of Admissions, Coordinator for Multicultural Admission/Intercollegiate Athletics Liaison Gettysburg College

How Many is Too Many?

I think the number of schools depends on how many you can honestly see yourself applying to and potentially attending. Seeking the proper fit in a college or university academically, personally, and socially will give you the best opportunity to thrive. There are realistically several places that will suit your needs, but as far as choosing the best matches for you, probably ten applications will suffice. Good Luck! Darryl