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Shotgunning—I'm very confused

skate17skate17 5 replies11 threads Junior Member
For all those that have applied previously, is shotgunning an advisable strategy or not? It seems logical to me on the surface, but I think there's a lot more than meets the eye.

I believe that applying to all 8 Ivy Leagues, all 15 of the T15, etc. is a waste of time and money. At the same time though, I kind of feel like I would be missing out on an opportunity to get into a prestigious school by not applying.

I mean doesn't everyone say that "your college doesn't define you, you do"? So I suppose if someone got into a prestigious school that wasn't really a right "fit" for them, then they could figure out a way to make that experience enjoyable for them, right?

Don't we all tell people who end up going to safety schools that it's up to them to make the most of their education, not the university? So, when people endorse this ideology but then turn around and say, "don't apply to all 8 ivies", isn't it a bit hypocritical? Or are they just trying to make those people who are going to safety schools happier?

Sorry for the long post. I just wanted to get all of this off my mind and in writing somewhere.
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Replies to: Shotgunning—I'm very confused

  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30399 replies59 threads Senior Member
    First of all, it is extremely difficult to “shotgun” the more selective schools effectively because so the degree that you spend crafting that application to fit the school and show that you are a stand out applicant for each school directly impacts your acceptance chances. The time And attention spend on each application Is reduced, once you apply to more than a certain number of schools. That factor can directly impact the already low chances of getting into any of those schools.

    I have seen people who have done this and succeeded but usually they have some sort of hook that increases their acceptance chances anyways.
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  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers 3644 replies85 threads Senior Member
    8 Ivies + T15 = 23 applications.

    Once you start crafting that many essays, you might change your mind about applying to so many schools.

    Also: "showing interest" -- traveling and taking part in 23 schools' tours and programs ....

    Cost of applying = $60 * 23 = $1380 for crap shoot.

    I think that once people start really looking at what the costs are to shotgunning, they start weeding out the list to schools they might want to attend for reasons other than just Brand Name.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10203 replies119 threads Senior Member
    Typically speaking the most competitive schools have the most involved supplementary essays. You are wasting time and money if you don’t have a solid, well crafted application.

    And no, I don’t think the same student who would be happy at Penn would enjoy Dartmouth. Could you bloom where you are planted? Sure. Would there be much better fits without the Ivy name in other schools, absolutely.
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  • JanieWalkerJanieWalker 673 replies19 threads Member
    In addition to the great comments/advice above, think about it this way - would someone who would be happy at Dartmouth also be happy at, say, Columbia? Feeling reasonably comfortable at the school matters. It does not help to gain acceptance to a particular Ivy only to hate it once you're there. Much better to spend your time finding true fits. My D21, for example, would feel completely at home at Dartmouth, in the mountains, than at Columbia in the middle of the city and with a rigid core curriculum she doesn't want to experience. She would rather go to our state flagship than go to Columbia, because she knows Columbia is just not a good fit for her and she'd be miserable there. It's difficult to get a great education if you don't like the program or the surroundings. (And yes, of course Columbia is a wonderful school, but it isn't for everyone...and neither is Dartmouth, which someone who loves cities might find far too rural and isolated).
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9879 replies380 threads Senior Member
    Don't we all tell people who end up going to safety schools that it's up to them to make the most of their education, not the university? So, when people endorse this ideology but then turn around and say, "don't apply to all 8 ivies", isn't it a bit hypocritical? Or are they just trying to make those people who are going to safety schools happier?

    Why would that be hypocritical? How well you do at any college is up to you, but the Ivies and top 15 colleges (as ranked by USNews) aren't safeties for anybody. It doesn't matter if you think you could be happy at any of them. The chances of getting in are still small.

    It's not a good idea to apply to 23 colleges based solely on their position on a ranking chart created by someone else. If you're intent on pursuing premed there are lots of things you should consider when choosing where you do your undergrad, but I don't believe prestige is one of them. But apply to all of them if you want. Just make sure your list has a safety or two that you'd genuinely be happy to attend.
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  • Sam-I-AmSam-I-Am 670 replies25 threads Member
    edited June 29
    Focus on the schools that have programs that seem to fit your interests best. Apply to those few schools first, throw in a safety school, and then add some more applications to T-15 schools if you still have the time, energy, money and desire. Keep an eye out for schools that provide merit scholarships and try not to miss the extra essays and earlier deadlines for some of those opportunities.

    As you go through this process you may well fall in love with a few schools. Consider an EDI and EDII strategy if that is possible for you to raise the likelihood of admission. But only do this if you find a good fit. ED is the opposite of the shotgun approach. It is focused. However, you can still send out a bunch of non ED applications as backup knowing that you are supposed to pull those applications if admitted ED and you can afford the FA package you are offered.
    edited June 29
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2273 replies36 threads Senior Member
    edited June 29
    skate17 wrote: »
    For all those that have applied previously, is shotgunning an advisable strategy or not? It seems logical to me on the surface,.

    I’m curious why you think it’s logical. The time involved in applying to more and more universities means less time dedicated to each application. Which means a lower quality application to each one.

    Each application is a statistically independent event, so applying to more won’t improve your chances at any individual school.

    I would hypothesize that lower quality applications to 20 schools would yield a worse result than 8 quality applications to the schools that really interest you.


    Do all 20+ schools even have the education you are looking for and a campus where you feel at home. There aren’t many students who say “Caltech and Brown are pretty much the same to me for what I’m looking to study”.
    edited June 29
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 2392 replies34 threads Senior Member
    edited June 29
    I think you really need to research colleges well and figure out which ones are the "best fit" in three areas: financially, academically, and socially.

    Many students just apply to "ivies" without thinking if they are really the best fit for them and shotgunning doesn't really improve their odds of acceptance to any one of them.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to go to a "top college" but you need to make sure of two things: the college is a great fit for you and you are a great fit for the college?
    edited June 29
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  • MWolfMWolf 2597 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Like many high school students, you forget that the point of going to college isn't to get accepted into the most prestigious college which will take you, but to find a place where you will get as much out of your four years of college as you can.

    Shotgunning all of the most popular colleges is very definitely not a strategy which will find you a college where you will succeed and thrive, and which will help set you up for your next stage in life.

    I will repeat this once more: your goal is to Attend A College, NOT To Be Accepted To A College.
    skate17 wrote: »
    Don't we all tell people who end up going to safety schools that it's up to them to make the most of their education, not the university? So, when people endorse this ideology but then turn around and say, "don't apply to all 8 ivies", isn't it a bit hypocritical? Or are they just trying to make those people who are going to safety schools happier?

    No, these people are saying the same thing. As people on this thread have emphasized, the most important thing is fit, and there is absolutely no way that all 8 Ivies are a good fit for the same person. If a person chooses their safety well, then their safety is a good fit, and therefore it was a great choice for them.
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