Deciding How Many Colleges to Apply ToTweet
There is not necessarily a magic number of how many colleges to apply to, though there are some guidelines. Ask yourself a few questions before you decide on the number of colleges to consider.
If you still want hard numbers after viewing this list, some experts state that the answer to how many colleges you should apply to is about six. But that number varies for each student depending on answers to these questions.
Consider Your Top Few Reach Schools
Many top schools are a reach for most college students, so do not count on getting into one of these without exceptional stats. But that doesn’t mean you should give up completely. Instead, take a look at these questions before applying to reach colleges:
- How do your test scores and GPA match up to the average statistics at your dream colleges?
- Does your guidance counselor think you have a good chance of getting into one or more of your reach schools?
- Do you have any unique offerings that make your application stand out as you are applying to your reach colleges?
- Can you really afford the tuition if you get into any of your reach schools?
Make Sure You Really Want to Go to Your Match Schools
You will likely get into at least one of your match schools, so you should ensure you will actually be happy to accept any offers you get. You can do so by asking yourself these questions while applying to match colleges:
- Have you visited the campus of each match school?
- Which geographic area of the country do you prefer?
- What are your likely areas of focus, and do all of your match schools offer these majors?
You Need a Few Safety Schools
Applying to a few safety colleges is important in case the worst case scenario occurs, and you do not get into your reach or match schools. Before you decide how many safety colleges to apply to, consider these questions:
- What do these schools lack that your reach and match schools offer?
- Can you improve your college experience or increase the challenge, such as by getting involved in extracurricular activities or applying for an honors program?
- Would you consider transferring elsewhere if you were not happy with the safety school that accepted you?
Think About the Effort of Applying to Colleges
As you determine how many colleges to apply to, keep in mind that most applications take time and money, so ask yourself:
- Do you have to pay to apply to each college, or are some free to apply to?
- Can you use the same essay for several schools when applying to colleges?
- How time-consuming will it be to fill out each application?
- How much are you willing to pay for score reporting to each school you apply to?
- How many colleges do you have time to apply to before the deadline for applications?
Once you ponder these questions, you should have an idea of how many colleges to apply to. Your number may be quite different from the recommended six schools, which is why you should think carefully before applying to reach, match and safety colleges.