Pro Tip: Decrease Your Number of College Applications

How many colleges should I apply to?

Truthfully, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. Each case and student is completely different. Each college is different. And how they want to craft each class of students varies from year to year.

What doesn’t change too much is the basic strategy for applying to colleges: an even ratio of reach, match and safety schools is the prescription for all student’s college admissions woes.


Enough Is Enough When It Comes To Applying To Colleges

Students who stray from that path might be over-thinking things or just checking too many boxes in the common app. Don’t get us wrong, we think the common application is a great tool. The ease of online applications has allowed more accessibility for students. But it’s also destroying the college admissions process by flooding schools with applications. While the number of college applications being received has more than doubled in the past 15 years, enrollment has only increased a fraction of that amount.

So what does that really mean?

It means high school students are applying to an INSANE number of schools compared to their parents. And some would argue the schools don’t have the processes in place to effectively handle the influx. AND it’s unnecessarily costing families more in application fees.

Breaking Down The Number

But back to your question. How many colleges should you apply to? Only you know the answer, but we’re betting it’s under 10!

This guy says 3 to 4.

CollegeVine says 7 to 10.

This counselor says 8 private and as many public as you want. What?!?

Regardless, the thing that is more important than all of the numbers, is the types of colleges you’re applying to. First things first, ensure you actually want to go to the school. There’s no point in spending money on application fees when you know deep down you couldn’t see yourself attending the school.

In general, you’ll want to apply to 1-3 schools from each category.

  • Safety Schools: You have the highest likelihood of getting accepted to these schools. “Your GPA should be well above the average student’s at that school and your SAT or ACT score should be above the 75th percentile for that school.”
  • Match or Target Schools: Though you still need to put effort into writing a quality essay, your target schools are the locations you’re pretty sure (though not certain) that you’ll get accepted to.
  • Reach Schools: These are the dream! You may be on the lower end of their target GPA or test scores, but you still have a chance of getting accepted. These could also be schools that have an especially low acceptance rates, even if you match their qualifications.

So How Do You Narrow Down Your List?

Campus tours, browsing the internet for student reviews and determining your “must-haves” are great ways to determine what colleges you should apply to. The best way to really test drive a college though? Spending time on campus!

Are college tours enough?

Absolutely not. They’re OK, but they’re a walking sales pitch and frankly you can do better! That being said, the importance of being on campus is invaluable, just don’t spend too much time with the salesperson.

For those of you in-the-know, there’s no surprise that a pre-college summer program is the best way to get a taste for college life. College is the next step in most students’ evolution so why would’t you prepare for it? Frankly, you’d be crazy not too.

And what better way than with a pre-college summer program that is designed to help every student create their own personal “blueprint” for success? (Including helping you determine the 5-10 colleges you should apply to!)

Want to learn more about our unique college readiness programs? Give us a call! 877-415-1111. We’ll help you find the path that is best for you.