One of the most exciting parts of being a teenager is experiencing college life. Although elementary and high school days were unforgettable, college years are the climax of every teenager’s journey. One question all students ask at some point of this journey is, “How many colleges should I apply to?”
Students must realize that there are a lot of things that need to be considered. We will talk about some of the considerations that must be made below.
How Many Colleges Should I Apply To?
Figuring out how many colleges you should apply to can be a tricky process. Some students might just choose a 1-2 colleges they are interested in, apply, and call it a day. Other students may go all out, research every school they can find, and apply to way too many schools. What is the correct answer?
Most colleges require prospective students to take the ACT or SAT. The score you get on these standardized tests will play a role in the number of colleges you should apply to. Test scores are just one factor to consider, what about the rest?
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According to a study, school counselors said students should apply to 6 colleges. This number was right on par with the actual number of colleges students actually apply to (5.8).
While 6 is a great number of colleges to apply to, a lot of counselors will recommend 8 as the number of colleges you should I apply. Applying to 8 schools allows you to apply to 2-3 reach schools, 3-4 match schools, and 2-3 safety schools.
Reach schools are schools that you may not be able to get into, but it could happen. Match schools are schools that fit all of your criteria including test scores. Safety schools are schools that you will get into for sure – these are to ensure you have an option for college if all other options fail.
Factors to Consider
Nowadays, to help students decide what college they will go to, many sites offer complicated platforms to help students find schools. If you are looking for a simple tool to find and compare colleges, check out our college finder. This free tool will help you find and compare every school in the country based on different criteria you enter.
Before finishing your junior year students should start creating a list of schools you may be interested in. Have a somewhat narrowed down list of schools will make the college admissions process easier. Our college finder tool is a great start. Listed below are some factors to consider:
When you ask yourself, “how many colleges should I apply to,” the decision-making part is very hard. Because this is when you filter all the colleges you want to apply to and focus only on essential criteria, remember that quality is always better than quantity.
Sometimes being practical is way better than anything else. Be honest with yourself – you may really want to go to Harvard, but that is considered a reach school for most. Try to group your list of schools into reach, match, and safety schools.
Applying to college is a time consuming process. Taking the ACT or SAT alone takes 4 hours. This does not even consider ACT prep or SAT prep. Imagine doing this two to three times, or even more? Not only that, the application process alone will take you for a minimum of one day.
Time is an essential factor in choosing the best college. It is better to take your time on research and make a list of the possible schools you are interested in rather than spending your time aimlessly applying to schools.
Another factor to consider when considering how many colleges you should apply to is the cost associated with the process. Most schools will charge a fee when applying. These fees can add up. It is important to have your list of schools you are most interested in and make sure you apply to those schools first.
Another aspect of cost is the cost of the institutions you are applying to. This is important to consider when making your list of schools you want to apply to. If a school is a private institution and charges $50,000/year, it may have to be crossed off your list. You can easily compare colleges using our college finder tool.
Another important factor to consider when considering the number of colleges you should apply to is location and convenience of the schools. Schools that are located in your state will most likely offer an in-state discount, which is always something to think about.
Ignoring the cost aspect, some students may want to study close to home, while other students may want to venture out. Talk about what you prefer with your family and friends before making your list of schools to apply for.
Some students may want to finish the college application process early. Early decision is one option for students who wish to finish the process early. The deadline for this application is November 1.
Most students will opt for the regular decision process. The deadline for this process is January or February – it depends on the schools you are applying to.
There is also an early action and rolling admissions process available to students. Early action deadline is November 1 and rolling admissions do not have a set deadline.
For an in-depth review of college applications, check out our guide on when to apply to colleges.
After it is all said and done, students should be applying to around 8 colleges. This number allows students to apply to 2-3 reach schools, 3-4 match schools, and 2-3 safety schools. This is a good combination that will allow you to apply to different schools.
Creating a list of schools you may be interested in at the end of your junior year will help you narrow down your list of schools you want to apply to when it is time to start the process. Utilize our free college finder tool to easily compare schools and learn about the different college majors each school offers.