right arrow
Make sure to check out our August Checklist for HS Seniors. Consult these quick resources to get you started on the process this month.
GUEST STUDENT OF THE WEEK: 10s4life just graduated from UCLA with a degree in electrical engineering. He'll answer questions about his experience at UCLA or the college admissions process. ASK HIM ANYTHING!
As we work to adjust to the current reality, make sure to check out these dedicated COVID-19 resources: our directory of virtual campus tours, our directory of extended deadlines, as well as the list of schools going test optional this fall.

How many colleges should you apply to?

extra21extra21 200 replies18 threads Junior Member
And how many of each safeties, matches, and reaches is right? My list right now has two safeties, two matches, and six reaches. Is that okay or should it be more balanced?
8 replies
· Reply · Share

Replies to: How many colleges should you apply to?

  • LoveTheBardLoveTheBard 2131 replies20 threads Senior Member
    I would add two or three matches and maybe lose one or two reaches (are they high reach/lottery schools or just low reaches?).
    · Reply · Share
  • washugradwashugrad 1161 replies13 threads Senior Member
    If you would honestly be happy to only get into your safeties, and can afford them, then you have enough.
    · Reply · Share
  • BooBooBearBooBooBear 380 replies9 threads Member
    I agree, if you are happy with your safeties then your list is fine, otherwise you risk being denied at all the reaches, denied at one match and unable to afford the other, and then you essentially have only your two safeties to choose from.

    For example, my kid has fallen in love with one of his safeties—a flagship public with guaranteed scholarship—so a list like yours would be fine for him. He would want to attend one of his reaches if he got in, but of all of the matches we researched and visited, he only likes one of them better than this safety school, and then he would only attend if they give him a merit scholarship. This is sort of a “Harvard or safety” strategy, but that is fine if that is indeed your personal ranking of preference.
    · Reply · Share
  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    How sure are you that your matches are matches and your safeties are safeties? Are you TRULY happy to attend one of your saefeties if it comes to that? Are your safeties really affordable?

    10 is a good number, but I’d go with @LoveTheBard ‘s suggestion and rebalance your list. If you add schools without getting rid of some, you add application effort (maybe diluting the quality of your apps), cost (app fees, test score fees, CSS profile fees), and FA paperwork complexity/effort (since colleges vary in what, when, and how they want it).

    Your odds don’t go up by having a lot of reaches. Those schools tend to look for similar things. What sinks you at one can sink you at all.
    edited June 2018
    · Reply · Share
  • happy1happy1 24138 replies2424 threads Super Moderator
    You want to be sure you have choices you will be very happy with when the process is done. If you would be absolutely thrilled to attend your safety schools and they appear very affordable then I guess you are fine. However, my gut tells me that it would be better to re-balance your list. If you stick to ten applications consider doing 2-3 reaches, 2-3 safetys and 4-6 matches. Or you can increase the number of applications and include a few more match schools.

    Another idea might be (if possible based on what each school allows) to apply to a few non-binding EA and/or rolling admissions schools. If you get some acceptances in hand by December you may be able to cut out applications to some schools that are less preferred as compared to ones you have been accepted into. In addition, getting some early acceptances can take a great deal of pressure off the rest of the process.
    · Reply · Share
  • tk21769tk21769 10710 replies27 threads Senior Member
    I've never seen what I'd consider a sure-fire formula.
    3 reaches, 2 matches, and 1 safety (6 total) may be a reasonable minimum for many good students whose families can cover their EFCs. 8-10 seems to be a little more common among CC posters. However, it depends on so many factors, including:
    * your stats
    * your budget
    * your risk tolerance
    * clarity about your own needs, options, and risk factors

    IMO you really only need 1 true admission+financial safety, but some folks like to have 2 (or more) just to guarantee a choice at the end of the process.

    EA/ED to reach/target schools may allow you to reduce the number of applications to less selective schools (since, if the early applications don't work out, you can add more applications in January/February). If a non-binding early application does work out, then that becomes a de facto admission safety (but not necessarily a financial safety).

    There may be little point in applying to schools that are more selective than your favorite school (as long as all of them are affordable). If you really like an affordable target (or safety), then lucky you, you may not need any "reach" applications at all. Thousands of very good students really don't need to look much farther than their own state flagships.
    · Reply · Share
  • extra21extra21 200 replies18 threads Junior Member
    I have one safety and one high reach that I really love, and I pretty much tried to build my list around that. I’d probably choose that safety over any other safety or match school (but not reach) because of cost but I added the other ones so that if I didn’t get into any reaches I’d still have a choice just in case. I also wanted to try to get into the best school that I could, which is why I added so many reaches. I’d say that 2 of them are low reaches and 4 are high reaches but I’m not exactly sure.
    · Reply · Share
  • BooBooBearBooBooBear 380 replies9 threads Member
    edited June 2018
    The big reason to have a second safety is that strange things happen—a state flagship cancels or runs out of money for a guaranteed scholarship because of legislative paralysis or turnover, you accidentally mess something up on an application and get denied on what was thought to be a guarantee, etc. Two safeties protects you.
    edited June 2018
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity