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Is A 24-College List Unreasonable?

CCEdit_TorreyCCEdit_Torrey 31 replies297 threads Editor
The school counselor thinks your college list is too long, but you think you should apply to 24 schools -- who is right? Find out what The Dean thinks: https://www.collegeconfidential.com/articles/is-a-24-college-list-unreasonable/
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Replies to: Is A 24-College List Unreasonable?

  • Apollo16BApollo16B 30 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Not to mention the increase in workload and stress due to scholarship applications for those schools you are offered admission to. I personally applied to around 15 colleges... Luckily I found the process entertaining. I can't imagine a student who dislikes writing going through that process without bouts of overwhelming anxiety.
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  • ninakatarinaninakatarina 1606 replies44 threads Senior Member
    Many colleges don't require extra supplements or essays, and some hand out fee waivers like candy. It's only unreasonable to have a long college list if you are applying to those colleges with a ton of supplements, or if you're on a fixed budget but don't qualify for fee waivers.

    If you need to shop offers on midrange schools then adding more schools is just smart application strategy.
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  • OttermaOtterma 1504 replies30 threads Senior Member
    Another exception to the "of course it's a bad idea" reaction is if 9 of those 24 universities happen to be the UC schools. Or something like 6 UCs and 6 CSUs. This isn't uncommon for California students. It's no more work for the high school counselor or the student, so as long as parents are willing to pay for it, that's fine.

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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    Wait til the parent has to provide all the FA info to 24 schools. They will be sorry.
    edited November 2018
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  • chercheurchercheur 1296 replies9 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    Wow! For us, 8 schools seemed like a lot. On top of the admissions applications were university and outside scholarship applications, university and/or departmental honors applications, and interviews; it was a lot of work!

    My student used a spreadsheet to keep track of all the due dates, what was sent when, awards, and decisions. If he hadn't, I'm certain something would have been missed.
    edited November 2018
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2355 replies45 threads Senior Member
    I would be interested to know the breakdown of reaches, matches, and likely schools out of that 24. I'm guessing there are two matches and 22 reaches, and not a safety in the lot. Or the kid has a fistful of fee waivers and couldn't be bothered to do any research.
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  • Darcy123Darcy123 324 replies6 threads Member
    We're still a year away and I can see it happening. I've spent so much time de-emphasizing the "dream school" mentality that for the most part my D20's list just keeps growing. We'll hopefully be able to do some visits and narrow things down, but right now she has 10+ reach schools, 10 matches and 6 safeties.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7636 replies61 threads Senior Member
    I think students and parents totally underestimate the number of supplemental essays that can be attached to these applications. My daughter applied to 8 schools and wrote 19 essays. I'm sure it depends on the type of school but if students are targeting competitive schools, there will be supplemental essays and they need to be as great as possible.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23268 replies17 threads Senior Member
    And I think students and families underestimate how bad it is to receive 16 rejections! Even if you have 8 acceptances, if the rejections come day after day, or 10 on March 31, it's tough to hear over and over 'you are not good enough for us.'
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  • sdscoutmomsdscoutmom 42 replies9 threads Junior Member
    I do tend to agree with Otterma. We are in CA, and, my daughter is considered a "bubble" student. Meaning she has some above average aspects to her grades, activities and resume, but it's by no means a guarantee that she will get into a UC school. She can get in to the Cals, but they don't seem to have the programs we are looking for. So, we are applying to 7 of the 9 UC's, 5 Cals, 4 WUE (one in each CO, WA, UT, and OR), 3 privates where she will likely get in and get strong merit aid to make them affordable, and then 3 reach schools - just for kicks. We are applying for honors at 6 of the schools. And, with the Common App, UC and Cal State consolidations, she is filling out 6 applications total. She has ended up writing 7 essays, and most of them can be re-purposed with minimal tweaks for both the entrance and honors. The UC, Cal State and WUE's don't really take recommendations. And, the counselor just pushes the same letter and evaluation out for each app. We also have a substitute counselor for her senior year, so we are doing most of this on our own.

    Now then, I agree this has been a huge load of work! But, it has been a great experience for her. Tulane flew her in for a weekend to tour, and Carnegie Mellon is flying her in in January. She has an interview with Georgetown on Friday. She wouldn't have these experiences if she didn't throw such a wide net.

    If every single one of her schools had required a fully separate application and multiple essays and recommendation letters, we would have stopped long ago. But, we are expecting all of her applications completed and submitted by November 19th, well in advance of the November 30th deadline for much of them. We did early action or regular deadline for everything, so we can be done with it all and enjoy our holidays!

    I do hear you twoinanddone, though. I don't know how we will feel if we get rejected across the board. Luckily my daughter has a very open mind, and doesn't have her heart set on any one school (yet).

    Best wishes to all! I hope you find the right level of applications and schools that fit you and your loved ones best!
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  • Anne ShirleyAnne Shirley 89 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Personally I think this is insane. My daughter applied to three colleges 2 years ago. Got into all 3 - two in-state and 1 out of state. When the process was over I realized she really only needed to apply to 2 because she never intended on going to the third.

    This year for my son, he applied only to 2 colleges, one early decision. I'm willing to bet he gets into both. Both are large unis with 100's of majors. If he doesn't get into his first choice then over winter break he'll apply to his safety school.

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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34550 replies384 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    This basic question really isn't about the kid so alert and organized, and with parental help, that it's defensible. Nor just the multi school UC app.

    It's about kids who really aren't able to be on top of all. And who think casting a wide net means more admits. @sdscoutmom, I might call your list "6 schools plus in state publics."

    Many kids have trouble knowing how to make the best of their apps. They need a couple of reasonable safeties, a few matches, then decide on maybe a reach or two. 20+ is dreaming, making this a crapshoot. You don't get in based on dreaming.
    edited November 2018
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  • sdscoutmomsdscoutmom 42 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Thanks Lookingforward, I like that title. 6 schools plus in state publics is about the speed we feel we are going. :)
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  • UndercrackersUndercrackers 872 replies2 threads Member
    Neighbor is a vice principal at a very high-achieving HS - had one student apply to over 40 colleges. Based on this kid's personality, it was very ego-driven. He probably got into most or all since he was a high achiever, but I have no idea the mix of schools in terms of safety/match/reach.

    We let D drive the college application process. She came up with the list of schools - 10 total - and we asked her what her thought process was in applying to them. A mix of UC's (1 app, letters of rec for Berkeley), a Cal state (1 app), and some privates (Common App). Acceptances = 6, wait list = 1 (reach), rejections = 3 (reaches). Going to Berkeley.

    Except for the exceptions noted by other posters, I cannot imagine needing to cast a net wider than 10 schools.
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  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing 2168 replies102 threadsForum Champion Williams College Forum Champion
    edited November 2018
    It is the choice of the applicant, provided the family can afford the associated fees or the colleges waive the fees.

    My son was in the process of preparing applications to 20 colleges when he got into his top choice early decision. He chose his list (narrowed down from a much longer list), we had visited each of them (plus other ones he had eliminated), and he had interviewed at every one of them that offered an on-campus interview. He had done his research, so he could speak and write knowledgeably about every college and why it would be a good fit for him. I would say there were 3 safeties, several matches, and several colleges that had admissions percentages under 25%. He was determined to apply to these 20 colleges to increase his chances of admission to at least one of them that was not a safety and to have a choice among safeties if he only got into safeties. It is possible he would have decreased his number before the due date, but I do not know. (After the fact, he said he thinks he would have dropped two low matches after getting into his safety EA.) I had suggested he decrease the count to more like 12-13, but...

    It was his choice. He was the one who had prepared for all those interviews and would have had to finish writing all those supplemental essays.

    My only request was that only the “free” regular decision applications be submitted prior to hearing back from his ED and EA colleges, so that we could save on unnecessary application fees. Good thing, since he was accepted ED!

    When you hear the interesting mix of acceptances and rejections that other kids at his college received, it is clear that every college makes the choice differently. Yale may admit an applicant Columbia rejects, etc. This means that it is not necessarily an accurate argument that adding more schools will not mean that you may not get into one of them, especially if you are a fully qualified “typical” applicant for the college. This may be true for an applicant, but it may not be. There is limited predictability. Thus the pattern of kids applying to a huge number of colleges continues!
    edited November 2018
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5357 replies78 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2018
    @sdscoutmom

    I am sorry if I have this wrong. You are concerned about acceptance to uc schools as in state resident but you are flying out for visits to Georgetown and CMU. I think there is some an opportunity you may be missing with the ucs. You have a way higher chance at Berkeley & UCLA & UCSD & UCSB. And Merced nearly automatically. in state than either of those other two.
    edited December 2018
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  • EmptyNestSoon2EmptyNestSoon2 39 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I think this is a tricky question, and while we probably all agree it's unfortunate that some kids feel they should apply to so many schools, they are not necessarily wrong to do so (if they can afford all of those fees!).

    The awful reality is that if kids are applying to tippy top schools, the results will be incredibly unpredictable. And compounding that problem, as more of these kids' "safety" schools are concerned with "yield protection" and putting unusual weight on demonstrated interest, top students are being denied or waitlisted at schools that used to be sure things, so the safeties no longer feel safe. So now kids are applying to both an exploding number of reaches AND safeties! But it is not necessarily unwise.

    If you spend a few minutes watching "college decision results" videos on youtube, or look at kids' results on admits.com, you will see that among kids who apply to 15+ top schools, a lot of them have very unpredictable-looking results. They might get into 2-5 of their 15 top schools, and it will not be obvious why. Maybe they get into Yale, Bowdoin and Brown but not Colgate, UPenn, Cornell, Georgetown, UC Berkeley, Northeastern, Johns Hopkins, Middlebury, Duke, Swarthmore, UMichigan and Tulane. If they had not applied to Y, B, & B, their results might have netted them only their state school, when in reality by casting a wide net they get to go to Yale or Brown if they choose. The truth is that a lot of kids do get into just 1 or 2 top schools. And all you need is 1.

    I agree that the unqualified or under qualified kids are likely to get rejected by all of their Uber-reaches if they aren't competitive enough students, but for the competitive kids, they really can't count on getting into those top schools if they just pick 2 or 3 reaches in 2019.

    The essays are extensive, but at some point a reasonable portion of them can be recycled at least in part. But definitely applying to 15+ top schools does mean > 15 essays.

    Now for kids who are applying to somewhat less selective schools, I would not think there would be the same logic for having so many reach schools--things tend to get much more predictable as you are looking at the wonderful schools that are below the top 20 in US News and World Report.

    Some comments imply that you can't do an excellent job on all of those applications, and if you don't pour your absolute heart and soul into knowing every fiber of a college and your essay doesn't demonstrate that, you don't have a chance of getting in, but that is simply not true. Case in point, my friend's child applied to Williams 2 years ago and did not even write the "optional" essay, and got in. But he did pour his efforts into his first choice essay at Dartmouth and didn't get in. It is just more random to us onlookers than that.

    I wish it didn't make sense for anyone to apply to more than 10 colleges. Or that there was a cap at 10 or some other arbitrary number. Then all of the acceptance rates would go up, people wouldn't panic so much, everything would be better. This is a bad vicious cycle, and many people who abhor it still can't help but contribute to it, because it really can be to their advantage.

    Lots of kids with fee waivers are applying to giant numbers of schools because there is no cost but the time to write the essays, in addition to kids whose parents can afford many application fees. This is also driving up the numbers of applications, reducing the acceptance rates, driving panic. Ugh. I wish there was a governing body that could put limits. What is the solution?
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  • seniorx2019seniorx2019 10 replies0 threads New Member
    I go to a fairly "elite" private boarding school, and I applied this year to 19 schools. I was going to apply to twenty, but I just couldn't emotionally finish my Harvey Mudd App at the last minute. If you're prepared to apply to 24 schools and it doesn't pose any fiscal hardship, go for it! I think honestly it's person dependent, and you recycle a lot of essays anyway. After getting some admissions decisions (4), that have gone in my favor before RD, I somewhat regret applying to that many because there were some that I have 0 interest in attending (even if at the time I convinced myself I did). I think 15 schools should be perfectly fine/enough, but if you want to do the 8 ivies/stanford/mit/every other top 20 schools, I completely understand it. Once you get into one of your top choices you'll wonder why you did it, but I think it can be worth it if you're insecure about your app.
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