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How Many Colleges Should I Apply To?
As you put together your college applications, you may be wondering how many colleges you should apply to. This number can vary student-by-student, but typically, it’s a good idea to apply to between five and seven colleges.
The type of colleges you choose to apply to is just as important as the number of schools. It’s a good idea to apply to safety, reach, and match schools to ensure that you are accepted by at least one school you are excited about. Let’s get into the ways in which you can choose the right distribution of schools to apply to.
Related: When to apply to college
How many colleges to apply to
At minimum, it’s a good idea to apply to five colleges. Any less than five puts you at risk of having a couple of unlucky admissions reads and ending up without a good option. Submitting between five and seven applications should give you a couple of options to choose between once you receive acceptances. This way, you’ll be able to do some accepted student college visits. These will help you decide on the optimal school for you.
Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool
How many colleges are too many?
Typically, it’s a good idea to cap your applications at ten. Anything beyond ten becomes impractical for a few reasons. The cost of applications is the first reason; Most schools charge in the range of $50.00. Spending $500 can be overwhelming, especially if you have to pay additional funds to send test scores to each one.
As a reminder, students often qualify for fee waivers for applications depending on their family’s income status. Don’t be scared away by application fees for schools you are genuinely interested in. If you can’t find a fee waiver, ask about other ways to apply without a fee.
Put thought in where you apply!
If you apply to too many schools, you might end up overwhelming yourself with the work that goes into supplemental application essays. In addition, the amount of tracking for so many applications is not practical.
You may be interested in a wide variety of schools, but it’s inevitable that you’ll be able to rule some options out. It’s a better idea to weed out some of the schools before your applications rather than after. This will save you a lot of time and money. Realistically, if you apply to over ten schools, you won’t have time to visit or properly research many of your options.
Keep in mind that this is not a hard-and-fast rule, and you won’t be at a disadvantage if you apply to more than ten schools. But remember that you should balance your applications with your schoolwork and extracurriculars. Time is scarce when you are applying for college, and it’s a good idea to use your time wisely.
Advice From a College Access Professional
Types of colleges to apply to
When you apply to college, you should apply to a spread of safety, match, and reach schools.
- Safety schools are schools that you feel confident that you’ll be admitted to
- Match schools are schools that you feel you have a strong chance of being admitted to
- Reach schools are options that are less likely to admit you
If you apply to several of each of these options, you’ll be left with a good spread of options when you hear back. Assuming you gain admission to any reach schools, you’ll probably end up attending them. If you are admitted to safety and match schools, you may be offered more financial aid at safety schools. You can then decide if your preference for your match schools is worth the extra price they carry.
You’ll also want to apply to at least one in-state public school. You may not be excited by the prospect of the school, but it’s a good option for a financial safety school. These schools typically have dramatically reduced tuition for in-state students, and if all else fails, they will be a great economical option for you in the fall.
Also see: How to plan your college tour
Frequently asked questions about how many colleges to apply to
I have my heart set on one college. Is it worth applying to more?
Should I apply to other colleges if I applied Early Decision?
Is it worth applying to colleges I haven’t visited?