To What Degree Should You Spread Your College Applications

Dec 31, 2022 By Susan Kelly

Over six million 2021-22 school year applications had been handled through the Common Application by February 2021. There were probably a million candidates, meaning that each student applied to about six colleges. Students ask themselves every year, "To how many colleges should I apply?" Some admissions specialists advise applying to between four and twelve colleges.

Essential Considerations for College Applications

What is the maximum number of schools to which you can apply? Apply as many times as you like; we won't count them. Jasmine Harrison, a senior at a high school in North Carolina, applied to 115 different universities in 2018 and was accepted to 113 of them.

But there's a good reason why most kids don't attend a hundred other schools. They need help to afford the application costs or finish that many applications. Considering the sheer number of potential educational institutions, doing so would be arduous.

However, you should also only apply to a few schools. It is recommended that applicants submit applications to at least five different institutions. The more applications you submit, the more likely you are to be accepted and to get offers of financial help.

Reducing Your College Options

In the United States alone, prospective college students can pick from about 4,000 different postsecondary schools. So how do you choose among all the colleges that interest you? Many hopefuls begin the application process by compiling a list of their preferred schools and searching for openings.

For example, if all the universities on your list are in the Ivy League, you should broaden your search to include some less selective institutions. If, on the other hand, all the colleges on your list are ones you're practically guaranteed to get into, you might consider adding a few "reach" institutions.

What Are Safety, Target, and Reach Schools?

Classifying schools according to their acceptance rates can be a helpful tool. The following sections discuss potential classifications for safety, target, and reach.

What's a Reach School?

A "reach" school is one to which an applicant has a lower average likelihood of admission. The applicant's academic history will determine which institutions are considered a reach. How can you find out which institutions qualify as "reach schools?" Research the percentage of applicants who were accepted.

Most universities publish the median, 25th percentile, and 75th percentile online in terms of first-year class grades and standardized test results. Reach school status means your socioeconomic status is lower than the school's median.

What's a Target School?

Target schools, like reach schools, may be found by looking at the demographics of previously admitted students. You should consider a school a target if your grades and test scores place you in the fifty and seventy-five percentiles of admitted students.

You should have a good chance of getting accepted if you apply to a school within this group. However, students shouldn't apply to "target institutions" only because they believe doing so would increase their odds of admission.

Consider your financial situation, intended major(s), and long-term aspirations for further education before narrowing your choices.

Precisely What Does A Safety College Teach?

An applicant may be accepted into a safety school. However, what constitutes a safe institution of higher learning is subjectively interpreted by each individual candidate. A school is a safe option if your grade point average and standardized test results are above the 75th percentile for accepted students.

There's a widespread misconception that "safety schools" don't measure up academically or socially. A 2019 analysis by the Pew Research Center found that, in reality, most universities accept the vast majority of applicants.

Apply To How Many Reach, Target, and Safety Schools?

Depending on your aspirations and need for privacy, you should apply to various kinds of schools. Based on data collected by the College Board, students who submit applications to between 5 and 8 colleges typically see acceptance from 50% of their top choices.

Use the remaining two to four apps to go to schools and other safe places. You may be willing to apply to more "reach" schools if you know you have at least one safety school in which you will be accepted.

Is It Alright To Submit Only One College Application?

To enhance their acceptance rate, prospective students should apply to several institutions. There are, however, circumstances in which it might be prudent to apply to only one institution. One application to college may be your sole viable option due to financial constraints.

Some students may be unable to enroll in more than one school or program due to geographic or other conditions. Adding additional software at this time is unnecessary. However, the correct number of applications for your unique situation is ultimately up to you.

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