You’ve heard it before: the more colleges you apply to, the better your chances of getting into one. But how many colleges should you apply to? It’s a complicated question, and the answer depends on a lot of things that are unique to you. There’s no magic number or quota for college applications—it all comes down to what works for your life and goals. While there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach when it comes to deciding how many colleges to apply to, there are some general guidelines that can help narrow down your options as you determine which schools make sense for you.
What to Consider When Deciding How Many Colleges to Apply to
The first and most important factor to consider is your chances of getting accepted. Applying to a mix of “reach,” “target,” and “safety” schools can increase your chances of getting accepted somewhere. Reach schools are those where your chances of getting accepted are low, target schools are those where your chances are average, and safety schools are those where your chances are high.
Another important factor to consider is cost. You want to make sure that you can afford your four-year degree and that you don’t find yourself drowning in debt after graduation. It’s also important to consider location, campus culture, and the type of education you want.
According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the average number of colleges applied to by students is four to six. However, this number can vary depending on your individual situation, and some students may apply to more or fewer colleges.
What Are Your Odds of Acceptance?
Your chances of getting accepted into a particular college can vary depending on your SAT/ACT scores, GPA, and the college’s acceptance rate. Researching a college’s average acceptance rate for students with your scores can give you an idea of your chances of getting accepted.
For example, if you have an SAT score of 1220 and an ACT score of 28 but apply to a school with an average acceptance rate for students with those scores (of about 33%), then your odds may not be great. However, if you have the same set of scores but apply to a school with an average acceptance rate for those scores of 60%, then your likelihood of acceptance is much higher.
On the other hand, some schools are more selective than others—meaning that they accept fewer applicants than they reject. If this is true for the college where you’re hoping to enroll, then you might want to consider applying there early in order to increase your chances of being considered among those who get accepted first.
Benefits of Applying to More Colleges
Applying to more than one college has many benefits, including:
- The ability to apply to more colleges with a lower GPA or ACT score. This is especially helpful for students who can’t get their grades up enough for their top-choice schools. Some colleges have early decision programs that require this kind of application, which means that if you don’t get in by December 1 (or whatever date) then you can’t apply anywhere else until regular admissions start again in January.
- Having more time to choose between colleges. If your first choice doesn’t work out, there are plenty of other choices available!
- Being able to research each school thoroughly before deciding on a final decision. You’ll want at least two weeks between sending applications off so that they arrive on time and don’t get lost in the mail; this gives applicants plenty of time without feeling rushed or overwhelmed by deadlines approaching quickly after applying only once.”
Some colleges have early decision programs that require this kind of application, which means that if you don’t get in by December 1 (or whatever date) then you can’t apply anywhere else until regular admissions start again in January. having more time to choose between colleges. If your first choice doesn’t work out, there are plenty of other choices available!
Factors to Consider Before Applying to Colleges
The first thing you should consider is the cost of attendance. You want to make sure that you can afford your four-year degree so that you don’t find yourself drowning in debt once it’s over. Keep in mind that this doesn’t just mean tuition — it also includes other fees, room and board costs, books, supplies, and transportation expenses.
Next up is the location! While some people prefer to live close to home (or even at home), others enjoy going far away for college so they can experience new places and meet new people. Some students might prefer a small school where they have smaller classes and fewer distractions; others might enjoy living in a large city with plenty of activities nearby. Keep these preferences in mind when applying for colleges because each one offers something different depending on where it is located.
The third thing to consider is what you want to study. You can choose from a variety of majors, minors, and specializations that will help prepare you for many career fields. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a lawyer or doctor, then going for a degree in pre-medicine or pre-law would be beneficial. If you’re more interested in business administration
Start With Your Top Target Colleges
If you’re looking to apply to more than 15 colleges, then you should definitely reconsider your number of target schools. Applying to a large number of schools is a lot of work and can be overwhelming. We recommend that you apply to no more than two or three colleges beyond your top choices. This will allow you time to research each school thoroughly and keep track of all the deadlines associated with each application process.
It will also allow you to focus your efforts on writing a stellar application. This is the most important part of your college application and should not be rushed.
A safety school is a school you’re very likely to get into if you apply. If you can’t get into your top choice, it’s a good option to fall back on.
There are two ways to determine whether or not a college is a safe school: ask admissions officers and look at their numbers. If an admissions director tells you they accept most students who apply there, that’s one piece of evidence that could indicate the college is safe for your application. Similarly, if the average GPA and test scores of admitted applicants are lower than yours, then it probably isn’t a good idea for you to apply there because you might have difficulty being accepted.
If after looking at these numbers, it seems like this organization will accept most of its applicants (or only admit those with higher GPAs or test scores), then chances are good that applying there will be worth your time!
Reach schools are schools that are a stretch for you. They aren’t the easiest places to get into, but they also aren’t too impossible to get accepted at. If you apply to a reach school and are accepted, it shows that your interest in the school is genuine and has merit. Reach schools can help you learn more about yourself and what exactly it is that interests you when it comes to college.
It also gives you an opportunity to be more selective with your college list because of the fact that they aren’t as competitive as other colleges on this list or in general (we won’t tell). You can also opt out of applying for financial aid in many cases since these schools tend not to accept students based on need anyway—so why bother?
Common College List Mistakes
- Not applying to enough colleges. If you only apply to one school and that school is your safety school, there’s a good chance you won’t get in. Apply to two or three schools that are way outside of your comfort zone, even if they seem like long shots.
- Applying to too many colleges. Colleges charge an application fee for each school you apply to—and it can be costly! If a college doesn’t accept your application, then it’s wasted money. Keep track of the number of applications you’ve submitted so far this year so that you stay within budget and don’t waste any money on unnecessary applications.*
- Not applying enough reach schools (i.e., schools with higher acceptance rates). Reach schools let in more people than safety and target schools do—meaning they have more spots available in their incoming classes than other types of institutions do.*
- Applying too many reach schools (i.e., schools with higher acceptance rates). This can lead you down a path that isn’t in line with your needs or goals: if all of these reach colleges turn down your application, then where does that leave you? You might end up having no options at all after exhausting all possible options for admission elsewhere!
The Bottom Line
Now that you know how to decide which colleges to apply to, it’s time to get started! Remember, the most important thing is not how many schools you apply to but that they are all good matches for your interests and goals. Keep in mind that applying early will give you more time before deadlines roll around again next year – and don’t forget: there’s no such thing as too many applications!