How many schools should students apply to?

College Search

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.

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.

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.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

between 5 to 10

if you are not going to take the advantage of early decision option, you should consider between 5 to 10 schools to apply through either regular or early actions. the best combination is to select 2-3 safty schools, 2-3 likely schools, and 2-3 reachable schools. how to identify those schools is the key and students should work with their counselors closely.

Helen Cella

How many schools should students apply to?

6 or 7. ; 2 reach, 3 good match, 2 safety schools.

Aviva Walls

It's not the number that matters

Rather than simply state a number, it's better to start with two ideas. 1. Apply to colleges across a range of selectivity. Go for your dreams! Apply to those reach schools (at least a few), but also be sure to have colleges which fit your college search criteria, but are less selective and will be more likely to offer you admission. In general, I think students should have 2-3 "reach schools" (schools for which your chances of admission are less than 50%), 3-4 schools which are "good fit" or "target" or "50/50" (the admissions decision could go either way, you are right in the middle of their score and gpa averages) and 2-3 schools that you would feel fairly confident will offer you admission (you have greater than a 50% change of admission). 2. Don't apply to any college you wouldn't want to attend. This is a simple idea, but a crucial concept. Don't waste the money, time and resources applying to colleges you wouldn't be happy going to. Yes, it's important to have a diversity of schools on your college list, but if you don't want to go there, than that doesn't help anyone, does it? In that vein, in this process, it's easy to get caught up in the hype. There are lots of great colleges in this country - some of them are very selective and others offer "admissions bargains." Keep your mind open to the possibilities. Just because a college is likely to offer you a spot doesn't mean they are a bad school or offer poorer quality education. Keep your eyes peeled for those bargains - they are out there!

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

How many schools should I apply to?

Some student intend to apply to many school as possible to ensure that they will have different option or to at least have one school that will accept their application. On the other hand, if the student has one dream school in mind and confident enough that they will get into it, they will send their application only to that school. Honestly, there’s no particular number of school application is required for the student to sent out. But most of school counsellor’s recommend student to apply to five to eight schools. This can guarantee you that you won’t be left with nothing. At the end of the day what you should keep in mind is to apply only to school that you really want to have and stop yourself from applying to many just because you’re not that confident or applying too few because you’re too proud.

Tony Bankston
Dean of Admissions Illinois Wesleyan University

Too Many Fishing Poles Makes for Bad Fishing

Imagine yourself in a small row boat trying to manage twenty different fishing poles, all of them with lines in the water. Do you think you are more likely to catch fish just because you've got so many poles working at once? The reality is that you are actually more likely to spend most of your time untangling knots and dealing with other problems. The college application process is not much different. Applying to a large number of colleges doesn't increase your odds of getting admitted our securing that rare full-tuition scholarship. But it may very likely cause you to conduct a watered down college search and, in the end, make a bad decision. If you do your research ahead of time and take time to visit different types of college campuses (big, medium, small), you should be able to give yourself plenty of options by applying to five or six colleges. Even with just five or six colleges, you can have one safety school, two moderately selective schools, and three reach schools. You can have a combination of both less expensive public schools and more expensive private schools. With fewer applications "in the water," you are more likely to keep up with the paperwork, meet deadlines, etc. In the end, you will likely only have enough time to fully investigate your top two to three college choices. Better to give those colleges a great look than spend all your time sifting through all the confusion of keeping up with twenty applications.