College Application Video Tip #2: How Many Colleges Should You Apply To?
Here’s this week’s college query: “Most seniors at my school applied to about fifteen colleges. “Should I be looking at that many for next year?” “Should I be looking at more?” “Less?” Last fall, I helped half a dozen students
apply to college. None of them applied to 15 colleges. And all of them are going to
college—many of them to one of their top choice schools. So here’s the key point
to remember: Don’t think more; think strategic. You want to look realistically at your grades,
scores, and resume and divide the schools you’re checking out into three categories,
based on where you might get in. This is the strategy of it. You’ll have your likelies—these are schools
with higher acceptance rates, where you’re likely to be admitted. Your likelies should
also have programs you’re excited about. In other words, they should have enough positive
attributes that you wouldn’t be totally bummed to attend. Next, you’ll have your target schools. These
are schools that are slightly more competitive, probably with almost all (if not all) the
characteristics you’re looking for in a college. You should feel enthusiastic, and
also fairly confident, about your target schools. Finally, you’ll have your reach schools.
Schools where you’re excited about the programs and the offerings, but where your likelihood
of getting in is less of a guarantee, because the schools are more competitive. I recommend having two to three schools on
your likely and reach school lists and three to four on your target list. Even ten schools
seems like a lot—and you may winnow out a few schools as you go through the process
of applying. In the end, a list with more schools doesn’t
make for a better or more effective application process. But strategic choices will not only
make the college search easier; they’ll also help you end up at a place where you’re
actually happy to be.