A new school year is just around the corner and for seniors and the question remains “How many schools should I be applying to?” Truth be told there is no clear right or wrong answer as it is truly up to the student, but if you have been doing your homework on schools all along and you have a good idea of a potential major and what you like and do not like on a campus the choices should settle in around 7-9 schools. The Common Application just released numbers of last years class and the average number of schools that a student applied to using The Common Application is 4.2 and even if you take away ED students and transfers the number is 4.6 as a national average (the average for students in New England is 5.6 if you are curious).
The information from The Common Application can be found here: https://www.commonapp.org/CommonApp/Docs/DownloadForms/2013/AppLimitResolutionFinal.pdf
Now clearly not all schools are on The Common Application, but a good number are, so taking that into consideration the number does tend to settle between 7-9 schools for students in our area. So how should the list look in terms of chances of being accepted? I am not one to start to divide a list into Reach, Probable, and Safety schools because I believe in doing your homework first and finding schools that pass the three “F” test: Fit, Feel, and Finance.
It not just about putting on a dog and pony show to get in; it is about having the ability to stay in past the first semester. So finding the school that you can succeed at based on your academic strengths and challenges to me is more important then getting into that “Reach” school with slightly higher academic standards and struggling to keep your head above water for the next 4-6 years of college without parents standing over you reminding you to do your homework. Just as important to the academic fit is how you feel on the campus, because unlike high school you cannot go home when classes are over. This is a life style decision that you need to be prepared to commit to 24-7. This brings me to the final “F” the finances. With this uncertain economic time comes the realization that the investment hopefully will payoff sooner rather then later so be careful not to accumulate debt unnecessarily, especially with schools now reporting graduation rates for 5-6 years instead of the historical four years parents were use to.
The reason I like to have 7-9 schools on a well complied list is so when the acceptance letters come in a family will be able to make a decision with several options to consider, all the while having the ability to compare the financial aid packages that come along with them.
So in the end the list should reflect schools that you will be successful at while enjoying the time there, and not having to worry too much about paying for it all. One more thing to keep in mind for every application there is a fee so the price just to apply can be just as shocking as the price of tuition. Best of luck!!!