It’s time to start applying to school, but how many applications should you be preparing? While 6 to 8 is the average number of schools that students end up applying to, experts agree that there is no magic number. The number of college applications that you submit will depend on your specific needs.
So how do you figure out the magic number for you? Take your list of schools of interest and rank them. Consider the opportunities available to you at each institution, how much each program will cost you and how likely you are to get into the school — also known as a school’s acceptance rate — to break your list into three categories:
These are the schools that you really want to attend but you’re not confident you’ll be offered admission. They’re “reach schools” because they may require just that: a little reach. Perhaps you are a bit short of a test requirement or aren’t as strong in some of the areas their application stresses. Two or three of these type of schools should be on your list as these dream schools can keep you motivated throughout the sometimes stressful application process.
You know the schools that you’re confident you can get into because you meet the admission requirements? The ones that you would be happy attending if you were offered admission? These are your “probable schools.” They may not be your top choice, but you can picture yourself doing well as you study on their campuses. You should have two to four of these on your list.
Then there are the schools you know, hands down, that you will be accepted to — these “safe schools” should round out your list. Most students apply to one safety school, but having two on your list is reasonable. Consider an academic safety school and a financially safe school, one you know you can afford.
Once you’re accepted to several of your schools of interest, your next step will be determining which school is the best choice for you. Good luck!