How many schools should students apply to?

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Our counselors answered:

How many schools should students apply to?

Roby Blust
Dean of Admissions & Enrollment Planning Marquette University

How many schools should students apply to?

Here is my video response to the question.

Eric Furda
Dean of Admissions University of Pennsylvania

How many schools should students apply to?

Here is my video response to the question.

Scott White
Director of Guidance Montclair High School

How many schools should students apply to?

At least 1 safety school, 2 realistic and 1 more than 10 total.

Susan Weber

It's all about balance!

The number is less important than two critical factors: 1. LOVE every school on your list. There are thousands of colleges in the US and fabulous schools accepting students with less-than-perfect records. Take the time and effort to find several "perfect" places. 2. Balance your list in thirds: a set where your GPA and test scores are fully above the range of the mid-50% of last-year's admitted freshmen, a set where your numbers fit within those boundaries, and a set where your scores and grades are bit below. How many in each category depends on how much time and energy you have for your applications. I think 6-9 is plenty (2-3 in each set), and more than 12 is signing up for a ton of work.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

Magic Number

There's not really a magic number, but I do think that there are 3 categories of schools that students should consider when compiling their college lists: safety schools, realistic schools, and reach schools. Be careful about those "reach" schools because some schools (the fancy pants ivies, for example) are "reach" schools for EVERYBODY. When categorizing the colleges on your list, be sure to check the median GPAs and test scores (if applicable) for the entering freshman class for the prior year. And remember, choose wisely. Choose schools to which you would be happy to attend if you were admitted. That way -- you are practically assured to have many awesome options in the spring!

Maura Kastberg
Executive Director of Student Services RSC

Apply to a mix of reach, match and safety schools

As students begin the application process they need to have a plan and a back up plan in mind. That being said students should apply to six schools with a mix of at least 2 reach, 2 match and 2 safety schools. Reach schools are schools where you are at or slightly below the admission requirements these are your long shot schools, Match schools are where you are at or slightly above the admission requirements these schools you have a good shot at getting into them. Then there are the safety schools where your stats are above the admission requirements these schools you can be reasonably sure that you will get in. Make sure that all the schools you apply to you would be willing and happy to attend. Some students change the mix up slightly or have 2 reach, 3 match and 1 safety school.

Chip Law
Co-founder Managing Director Educational Avenues

Ah! What IS the magic number

While there is no specific number of schools that a student should actually apply to, there are some ways to get a good feel for what you should do:

1. In your junior year develop a large list of schools that appeal to you. You should do this based upon what YOU want from a school-size, location, specific major, social life, extracurricular activities that match your interests, affordability etc.

2. Over the year do your due diligence on each school-are you a student that fits the school's academic profile? You must be realistic and take a hard look at your performance in terms of their applicant pool statistics-GPA, standardized scores, rank, etc. You should then hone the list down to no more than twelve schools.

3. Of the 12 schools, make sure that you find a range of schools that fit your criteria that:

-you are likely to get into,

-you have a possibility to get in to,

-are a reach for you

-may be one that's long-shot.

4. If possible visit the top schools on your list. Use all available resources to more intensely research each school to validate your point of view on the school.

4. Using this methodology you should consider application to six to eight schools max. and you will have covered all the bases for a match and a probability for acceptance that should make you comfortable with your choices.

Perhaps most important of all is to make sure that ALL of the schools on your application list are ones that you would REALLY like to attend!

- Chip

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Balance above quantity

Students should apply to a balanced list of between 6-10 schools. Every student should apply to at least two foundation schools (strong likelihood of earning admission). Also, students should stretch themselves by applying to at least one realistic reach school (admission is possible, but not probable). Middle schools (chance of admission is about 50/50) help mitigate unexpected admission trends in either the reach or foundation categories. When a list is perfectly balanced, applying to just 3-4 schools is reasonable. Applying to more than 10-12 schools is a sign that the college search part of the admission process isn't over. Narrowing schools after receipt of admission offers is becoming more common as financial concerns influence final enrollment decisions.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

The College List

A carefully crafted college list should consist of around 9 schools. If you have done your research and have evaluated your high school record candidly, you should be able to create a list of 5 target schools, 2 likely schools and 2 dream schools.

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

Numbers Game

No more than a dozen, preferably less. If you must become an expert on each college to which you apply, keep your focus narrow and resist the temptation to use all of those VIP apps if you have no intention of applying to said school. Ensure that your list is balanced with reach and within reach colleges so that you are creating options, not unrealistic expectations. PS-Has anyone noticed that application fees for domestic students have creeped up to $70 per application? Even high schools have begun to charge students per transcript request. Who hasn't got their hand in the applicant's pocket? It's become a money hemorrhage.