How Many Colleges Should I Apply to?

I’m pretty old-school when it comes to this question having worked at colleges for the past 17 years. Personally, I recommend 7. Two “reach” schools, three mid-range schools, and two “safety” schools.

A “reach” school is a school that you would love to attend, but you’re not quite sure you have the chops to get in. Maybe, your SAT is a bit lower than their average SAT. Or, maybe your high school GPA is a bit lower than the average applicant. Whatever the reason, I still encourage students to shoot for the stars (within reason) and not discard two top choice schools because of one thing missing from their background/application.

Mid-range schools are schools that fall within your academic background, offer the major you want to study and all around provide an environment/campus that you’d be happy attending. A mid-range school is not a slam-dunk, but there is a very strong chance that you will get in based on your background, fit and academics.

A “safety” school is pretty much self-explanatory based on the name. It’s a school that you are confident that you will get into based on your academic profile and background. Make sure that the safety schools you pick are still schools you’d be happy to attend. Don’t think of them as some sort of last resort, because they aren’t. Many students attend their safety school because of location, convenience and/or cost.

Before applying, be sure that you would be comfortable attending any/all of the universities that you have selected and do not put all your hopes into one school. That can sometimes,be a recipe for disaster and why put yourself in that position.

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About Carol Langlois
Dr Carol is a former University Dean and Associate Provost, trained therapist, researcher, educational consultant and writer. During her training, she counseled hundreds of clients in one-on-one sessions as well as in group settings where her work was with college freshman dealing with transitional and developmental issues on campus. Her primary research focus is female self-esteem development among teens. Her published dissertation “The effects of single gender versus coeducational environments on the self-esteem development and academic competence of high school females” focused on 15 year old girls in the Bay Area where her research findings showed disturbingly low levels of self-esteem across the board. This staggering discovery has led her to further research this topic. She is working on her second book called Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image, which is a compilation of interviews with teens girls on the topic of self-esteem while offering an effective and practical system designed to RAISE (Resilience, Attitude, Independence, Self-Respect and Empowerment) teen self-esteem. In addition, she runs groups for non-profits interested in adding self-esteem training into their overall mission.

2 Responses to How Many Colleges Should I Apply to?

  1. ksmith94610 says:

    I agree. In today’s environment where even safe schools may not be safe,some applicants may even decide to apply for 8-10 schools. In states like California where some schools are impacted and the level of competition is high, more applications are better.

  2. ksmith94610 says:

    I agree. Seven could even be a minimum. In today’s competitive world, even safe schools may not be safe, particularly in California and other areas where some schools are impacted. Some people may wish to go as high as 8 or 10.

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