What is The Best Number of Colleges You Should Apply To?

So, you’re going to college…

Congratulations! You have graduated from childhood, tween, teen, puberty and are now running smack into semi-adulthood. You have survived high school (hopefully) unscathed and are now preparing to start your college education. The beauty about being in college is that you are already adult enough to make your own choices but still young enough to think that having a family and a proper job (or jobs) is light years away. But you do have to start making adult choices, starting with…

How many colleges should you apply for?

Before answering that question, there are some important things that you have to consider.

1. Your disposition, your interest, and your academic record

What do you want, really? There is a huge amount of pressure on you when it comes to deciding what college degree you are going after, and with good reason too: your college degree most often dictates what you will be doing for the rest of your life. Most often, not always, but if you are going to spend upward of $15,000 a year, then it might as well be for a degree that would form the foundation to your future career.

You need to take a look at your interests, your skills, and yes, your academic record. Weigh your options and as much as possible try to discern whether what you want is real or simply a whim. Try to plan out your career track and research for similar tracks to see if it is a viable one to pursue. It is a huge decision (how can an eighteen-year-old to make this huge for a life choice?) but just think that these are the kinds of decisions that you’re expected to answer beginning now. Once you have decided which course to take, then you are ready to start applying to colleges.

2. Profile of all schools in your list

You probably already have a large list of colleges you want to enter. If you’re very organized, then you’ve probably divided them based on whatever system you want. Take a look at each school’s profile so you could whittle it down to only those that offer your desired course. Once you have done that, we suggest that you divide them between Reach, Match, and Safety.

Reach Schools are the highly selective, top school choices that your qualifications match or fall slightly short of and/or have an intense competition for a slot in the freshman class.
Match Schools are colleges where your qualifications match the school’s requirements and that you feel you may happily attend.

Safety Schools are those where your qualifications are above their admission requirements and have flexible admission standards.

3. Location, weather, and accessibility

Then there is this. Consider the viability of each school based on location. Will you need a plane to get there? Is the weather the same as the one you’re used to? Is it in a college town where the cost of living is relatively manageable than large cities? Is it in another country?

These are the things you should consider. From your selection, choose schools whose locations you think you can not only live in but also enjoy.

4. Tuition, cost of living, and available financial aid

A rather large consideration is the cost of your education and the living expenses that comes along with it. Go back to your list and check if the tuition and other fees of those schools are manageable on your end. Ask yourself if you will need financial aid, or a job, or if you should have another income source.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t apply to the school you want if the tuition is upwards your budget? Not necessarily. The listed tuition is not the final cost yet. Most schools take into consideration the applicant’s financial status when it comes to computing for the tuition and fees. Besides, you wouldn’t know the actual fees and the financial aid that could be extended to you if you do not go through with your application.

5. Application fees

After you have whittled your school list down further after considering the first four items mentioned, you can now start prioritizing which schools you are going to apply for based on your current financial capability. Remember that you can apply to as many schools as you want but also remember that these schools have application fees. These non-refundable application fees range from $60 to $100 depending on the type of school. Manage your costs and rank your list according to prioritization.

Now, back to the question at hand. How many colleges should you apply for? There really is no straight answer to that. Some apply only to 2 or 3 schools, some apply to as many as 20. It really all depends on how much time you can spend completing each school’s admission requirements and if you are able to manage the application fees.

A recommendation, though, is to apply to around 6-8 colleges. It’s a good number range, just as long as you make sure that those colleges are a good mix of reach, match, and safety schools.

Yohana Petrovic is a writer and blogger. She has 10 years` experience in educating and now she is a proofreader at http://globalessays.org/ . You can reach her on Facebook: Yohana Petrovic or on Twitter: @YohanaPetrovic

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