How many schools should I apply to?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

How many schools should I apply to?

David Allen
Managing Director Global College Counselors Ltd

Too many or not enough

I'd say a good number is about 10 - any more and you have to ask yourself, would you really want to go to all of them, too few and you may not have enough of a spread. It would be wise to have no more than 3 'reach' schools, 5 or so 'good bets' and 2 or 3 insurance choices. Remember, it all costs money and will take up time you could be spending improving your grades!

Dori Middlebrook
Owner Dori Middlebrook Educational Consulting

How many schools should I apply to?

I usually recommend 8-10 schools. When creating a school list a student should have a balance of schools in three different categories. "Likely" schools-schools where the student's grades and test scores are above the averages for admitted students at that school last year. A student is "likely" to be accepted to these schools and often will receive merit aid if they choose to attend. I recommend 2-3 "likely" schools. "Target" schools-this category should have the highest number of schools in it. Target schools are schools where a student's grades and test scores are right in the middle of admitted students. A student has a 50/50 chance of being admitted to a target school. A student schould apply to 4-6 target schools. "Reach" schools-schools where a student's grades and test scores fall below the average number for admitted students. Acceptance to these schools is a reach and a student is less likely to be admitted. I tell students "you never know unless you try" but know that it will be highly competitive. I recommend 2 reach schools. Students should spend time researching schools and they should like their "likely" schools as much as they do their "reach" schools, they may end up with offers of admission from any of the schools. Remember the most important thing is selecting schools that are a good "fit"-consider size of school, location, majors, activities, housing, finances and much more to find the right school for you.

Judge Mason
Judge Mason Educational Consultant JMEC

The Rule Which May Be Broken

As a rule, I recommend two reaches, 3-4 reasonables and 2 sures.

Susan Hanflik
Educational Consultant Susan Hanflik and Associates

How many Is the right number?

There is no magic number that will ensure you get accepted into college. I think the best rule of thumb is to make sure you apply to a range of schools: schools where you are in the higher range of applicants, schools where you are in the mid-range, and reach schools. Many students get drawn into applying to many, many schools with the idea that it increases their odds of acceptance. Some students also think that they will apply and then make decisions about schools. That is a tremendous waste of time doing applications and money. Make some well thought-out decisions and go with them.



Glenda Durano
Owner College Advising and Planning Services

How many schools should I apply to?

I usually recommend that a student apply to between 7 and 10 schools, but, just as we cannot put students "in a box," neither can we put the application process "in a box." Students should never apply to a school "just because he wants to see if he will get in" or because "someone told you it is a great school." Simply because a school has an excellent program in your course of study doesn't mean that the school is a great fit. There are many factors to consider when determining which schools to apply to including size, location, programs, facilities, opportunities, academic/social balance, etc. Every school to which a student applies should meet the student's academic, social, and financial needs. A student should be delighted to be accepted to any of the schools to which he applies. Many times a student doesn't have the time or the resources to determine that, in which case, he should reach out to a consultant.

Lesley Colognesi

How many schools should I apply to?

There are over 3,000 school in the U.S .and students have the ability to be selective in the process. I suggest narrowing your list o 8-12 schools.

Nicholas Umphrey

How many schools should I apply to?

Usually I suggest a minimum of three. Each school should be categorized as either a Reach, Probable, or Safety school. There are usually two factors I look at in determining this: a school's acceptance rate and their average standardized test scores. A REACH school is a school that accepts a low percentage of applicants, and has an average standardized test score at or above yours. A PROBABLE school is a one that you are very likely to be accepted into based on your test scores and their acceptance rate bring from 40%-70% (varying depending on individual cases). A SAFETY school is often a school accepting 70% or above and having average test scores average to low average. Some safety schools may not require SAT's. Many four year colleges with high acceptance rates, 2 year colleges, junior colleges and community colleges fit into this category


2 Reach, 2 Match, & 2 Safety Schools

I always encourage student to apply to 2 Reach School (schools that would be a "dream" school but either financially or academicially or both are just out of the student's reach), 2 Match schools (schools which meet the student's needs financially and academically), and 2 Safety schools (schools which are just below the student's financial and academic needs). This is a good way to know that the student has a strong "spread" of schools without breaking the bank on college application fees.

Symionne Quarles

How many school should you apply to?

I good number is five. You always want to include your reach and safety school. This number is manageable and will probably include the variety a student seeks.