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How many schools should i apply to?

tahoe23tahoe23 - Posts: 310 Member
edited September 2011 in College Admissions
I have a 3.8 unweighted, 4.2 weighted GPA. 1830 SAT, 27 ACT. I dream of going to arizona state, and i have a feeling that i can get in no problem. But people tell me i have a chance at some of the better schools too because i am black, smart, athletic, and a very motivated, hard-working student.

So how many should i actually apply for? Because i dont want to apply to colleges that i have no chance at.
Thank you.
Post edited by tahoe23 on

Replies to: How many schools should i apply to?

  • floridadad55floridadad55 Registered User Posts: 2,262 Senior Member
    I say 15, but when I say that, people call me crazy.

    I say this because the admission rates at the tip top schools are so low, so I think it makes sense to apply to a LOT of reach schools, and play the odds.

    I would do one safety, four targets, and ten reaches. Since you are a URM, you might luck out and get into one or two of the 10 reaches, and that is all you need. You might not be the first guy who gets in, but even if you are #5000, you are still in. So again, I would apply to a lot of schools. In my view, if you don't apply, you are self rejecting yourself. Others take the opposite point of view, and tell you to just apply to a few schools, but write really good essays for each school, but to me, it is a numbers game, with no rhyme or reason. For example, my brother's kid got into Cornell, but got wait listed at Syracuse. And a friend's kid got rejected at Boston College, but got into Washington University, which is higher ranked. Some of the 10 reaches will care a lot that you are black, some will care a little, and some might not care at all, so you never know which one might take you.

    People say that 15 is too many essays to write, but to me, getting into a good college is very important, so why not spend the time doing it.

    Best Wishes.
  • floridadad55floridadad55 Registered User Posts: 2,262 Senior Member
    My advice to you is to try and take the ACT again.

    My son raised his score from a 31 to a 34, with no studying. So mere familarity with the exam may help raise your score.

    A 27 is not bad, but getting closer to a 30 might just get you in at a super top school.

    I would take a prep course, and study hard for it. Raising your ACT score, even a point or two, could pay tremendous dividends for you. So yes, the Arizona States of the world are fine, but no reason not to shoot even higher.
  • blackandyellowblackandyellow Registered User Posts: 246 Junior Member
    2 reaches
    2-3 matches
    2-3 safeties
    1 financial safety (can be same as one of the match or safeties- the point is that you will have NO problem affording this school)
    so like 7-9 schools total.
  • floridadad55floridadad55 Registered User Posts: 2,262 Senior Member

    I totally DISagree with the advice of another poster about only applying to TWO reaches.

    Acceptance rates at top colleges are from 7%-30%. If you only apply to two, you could easily get rejected at both.

    Plus, you have a hook, being black, with good credentials. So you could well get into one or two top schools, but only if you apply to enough of them. Why only apply to two reaches? To me, that makes no sense.

    I would apply to a LOT of reaches. Play the odds. Nothing to lose by doing this. If you don't apply, you are self rejecting yourself.

    Many different factors enter into a decision on you. You never know why a top school might take you. Perhaps they need more English majors. Perhaps they need more boys. Perhaps they need more such and such. I urge you to apply to a LOT of them, and don't self reject yourself.

    I assure you that it is a total crapshoot. My brother's kid got into Cornell, but got wait-listed at Syracuse. A friend's son got rejected at Boston College, but got into Washington University, which is higher ranked. I hope you will take my advice.
  • RedSevenRedSeven Registered User Posts: 1,665 Senior Member
    I say 15, but when I say that, people call me crazy.

    That's because 15 is crazy. The only people who should be applying to that many schools are those who are looking for a direct-med program (or something similar), as those programs are ridiculously selective.

    I recommend applying to no more than 10 schools. Always include a financial safety (which must be an admissions safety, too, as it doesn't matter how affordable it is if you don't get in). The ratio of safeties to matches to reaches depends on how competitive your application is. The more competitive, the more reaches you should include.

    For you, I'd recommend two safeties (at least one financial), two or three matches, and the rest reaches.

    I personally applied to one safety, one match that was very close to being a safety, and seven reaches.
  • ContractKillerContractKiller Registered User Posts: 87 Junior Member
    It is recommended by many college admissions counselors to apply to an average of six colleges, with three reaches, three matches, and three safeties.
  • slon02slon02 Registered User Posts: 198 Junior Member
    Keeping in mind that admissions to top-level colleges isn't equal for everyone in the 100% that applies, I'd lean to agree with applying to a lot of reaches. Maybe not 10, but still not 2- I'd say 5 is a good number. If you have a very competitive profile, then it does become more or less of a lottery for each high-level college.
  • ContractKillerContractKiller Registered User Posts: 87 Junior Member
    ^tahoe23 will not be a competitive candidate at top colleges with an 1830 SAT. As an African American, he'll still need at least a 1900 in order to be competitive at top 25 colleges given that his ECs are good.
  • jshainjshain Registered User Posts: 5,014 Senior Member
    My S applied to 18 schools (counting the UC's as one, even though he applied to four different UC's). I'm not saying you should apply to that many schools, but I wouldn't necessarily put a maximum limit on how many you apply to if there are schools you want to take a stab at. Time to prepare and track the applications, money for application fees (unless you apply for a fee waiver) and money for score reporting (only so many are free on test day) are your only real constraints here. It will also be necessary to have your schools all laid out on a spreadsheet with early decision/action deadline dates, scholarship deadlines, applicable interviews, no. of recommendations, etc. etc. The longer the list, the more there is to keep track of....

    It is also somewhat unlikely that you will have to write a separate essay for EVERY school you apply to. Many essays can be re-used or re-worked for a different school and a different question. The common app schools are not necessarily the problem but the SUPPLIMENTS can be time-consuming.

    Good luck!
  • SikorskySikorsky Registered User Posts: 5,851 Senior Member
    I sense that some people in this thread are talking past each other.

    Tahoe, I am of the opinion that if you really like Arizona State, if you think you can get in and your family can afford it, and if you think you have a good chance of being happy and successful there, you don't have to reach at all if you don't want to. You might need a back-up in case something goes horribly, unpredictably wrong at ASU, but you don't have to reach if what you really want is to go to ASU.

    That having been said, if you decide you do want to reach, then that changes your application strategy considerably. If you want to reach, you probably should retake either the SAT or the ACT and then apply to a bunch of colleges where your grades and standardized test scores put you at least in the middle 50%. But exactly how many of those colleges you should apply to is really up to you. How many application fees can you afford to file?

    With your current SAT and ACT, I can't go along with floridadad's advice to apply to ten top colleges/universities. With a 27 or 1830, you just won't be competitive at Ivies, Northwestern, Swarthmore, etc. With ACT > 30 or SAT > 2000, you might have a shot, but then it would become as unpredictable as floridadad says, so you might want to apply to as many as you can afford.
  • CCsiteObsessedCCsiteObsessed Registered User Posts: 576 Member
    OP: Only apply to schools that you would be willing to attend, keeping in mind that your priorities may change by the time when May 1st rolls around and you have to give your final answer. If financial and merit aid is a consideration, apply to more rather than fewer schools. Higher ranked (by USNWR) does not mean it has to be higher ranked for YOU. I am assuming that it this point you want a large sports oriented school with an active social scene. . . .You may want to apply to another type of school in case you change your mind later.
  • stagemumstagemum Registered User Posts: 544 Member
    If you are fortunate enough to "dream" of going to a school which you also have an excellent chance of being accepted into, you shouldn't allow anyone to discourage you from saving a lot of time and money on applications to schools you aren't as enthusiastic about. I'm presuming that you are an Arizona resident. If not, what is it about Arizona State that particularly excites you? If you are not entitled to attractive in-state tuition rates, you might want to consider a broader range of options, since most state schools are a little stingy about awarding financial aid to out-of-staters. If you anticipate playing an elite, varsity sport, that's another story, and you should be getting advice from your parents, coach, and guidance counselor, not strangers on a website.
  • ContractKillerContractKiller Registered User Posts: 87 Junior Member
    ^You're also a stranger, and since you say he shouldn't get advice from strangers on a website, I guess that means he shouldn't get it from you either. In other words, he shouldn't listen to you.
  • tahoe23tahoe23 - Posts: 310 Member
    Okay guys I'm not trying to apply to ivys here. But still some competitive schools. Such as USC, UMiami, Uflorida, UCSB, UGeorgia. Nothing like Harvard or something where I know I'd have no chance at. Just making it clear.
  • SikorskySikorsky Registered User Posts: 5,851 Senior Member
    Tahoe, in that case, I come back to thinking that it's totally up to you. I guess if you were my kid, I'd suggest you should apply to any of those institutions that you like about as well as, or better than, Arizona State, and see what happens. But if you'd rather go to ASU than any of those other places, what's the point in applying? Is it just collecting trophies?

    When I applied to college, a million years ago, that's more or less what I did. I applied to one university that I really liked and considered safe, and two real reaches. I didn't apply anywhere else because I couldn't find anywhere else that appealed to me more than the university I thought was totally safe.
This discussion has been closed.