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Can high school limit college applications to 5?

nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
My son met with his Guidance Counselor today regarding linking his recommendation letters on the Common Application and she said he had to send separate emails out for each school to each recommender. We were under the Impression that once you sent out the invite and linked to a college, you could link the recommendation to other schools after. Is that not correct?

I’m also concerned because she told him he could only apply to 5 schools! She asked him what his top 5 were and he listed 5 reach schools. She said he would most likely have to just apply to those 5! Now, she is very young and this is only her second year as a counselor and first year working with Seniors, but does this sound normal? I asked if she at least asked for his safety and match schools, and he said she didn’t. I proceeded to ask my son what he plans to do if he isn’t accepted into any of the schools he’s applying to, and he said she didn’t seem concerned about that. I’ve heard of limiting college applications, but 5??
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Replies to: Can high school limit college applications to 5?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77793 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 9
    I can understand limiting the number of unique recommendations that the counselor has to write -- but if the counselor can write one recommendation for SUNY (since you appear to be NY residents) and one for The Common Application, it seems unreasonable for her to say that the student can only apply to five total SUNY + The Common Application schools (although she can do that if she is the one controlling the sending of transcripts).

    Of course, there is no way for her to control how many schools he applies to that do not require recommendations and use SRAR (self-reported academic record) on application (verified by transcript after matriculation). Nor should there be any reason for her to want to limit applications to those schools, since they do not add any burden on her.
    edited September 9
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 29616 replies173 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Have you run the Net Price Calculators at each of the five places on his current list? If you have not done that, do so. He could end up with five unaffordable admissions offers next spring.

    If you find that you need to chase serious merit-based aid, ask the counselor to help you find the work-around for the five college limit. Kids who need merit aid can end up with a very long application list indeed.
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    skieurope wrote: »
    I’ve heard of limiting college applications, but 5??
    Time for you to get involved.

    I'm familiar with limiting - my own HS limited to 10, suggested as 3 reaches, 3 matches, and 3 safeties,plus the state flagship, although they were open to listen to valid reasons to go over. 5 is unrealistic in today's application environment. FWIW, the Common App rec is the same for all schools,so thereis no extra work for 20 Common App schools vs. one.Add in a couple of school-unique apps, it's unlikely that any GC needs to write 5 unique recs per student. Additionally, there are colleges that do not require GC recs, and I can;t imagine how/if a school can prevent a student from applying tothose.

    This is exactly why I was confused. We just planned to use the common app for SUNY and private schools, and we certainly do not expect individual letters of recommendation to be drafted for each school. I thought the whole point of the common app was to make it easier and more convenient for the counselor and teachers providing the recommendations and mid year report? What has concerned me throughout this whole process was how inexperienced she appears to be. I desperately want to get involved, but I also need my son to receive a decent recommendation from her.
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    I can understand limiting the number of unique recommendations that the counselor has to write -- but if the counselor can write one recommendation for SUNY (since you appear to be NY residents) and one for The Common Application, it seems unreasonable for her to say that the student can only apply to five total SUNY + The Common Application schools (although she can do that if she is the one controlling the sending of transcripts).

    Of course, there is no way for her to control how many schools he applies to that do not require recommendations and use SRAR (self-reported academic record) on application (verified by transcript after matriculation). Nor should there be any reason for her to want to limit applications to those schools, since they do not add any burden on her.


    What schools do not require recommendation letters and use SRAR? I honestly think she doesn’t know what she is doing, but I don’t know how to politely inform her. I sort of already hinted that I thought my son could simply link his recommendation letters within the common app after sending them an invitation, but she insisted to me, and again to my son when she met with him, that he had to send a separate email invitation to each recommender for each school. My son she told him that they limit the number of applications students are permitted to submit because it is too much work and was shocked when my son said his application, essays, and supplements were done in August. Oh, I forgot to mention, she emailed the class and said they would work on their application essay during their senior English or AP English class. There was no way I was having my son wait until the school year to START his college application essay.
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    skieurope wrote: »
    I desperately want to get involved, but I also need my son to receive a decent recommendation from her.
    I did not mean to imply that you need to come down like a ton of bricks helicopter parent, but there is nothing wrong with asking for a clarification."I'm concerned. My son told me.... That number seems low given the competitiveness of the process. Perhaps he misunderstood, so can you clarify?" Then if she gives you a stupid answer answer after your rational explanation, you can go full tiger parent.:)

    Thank you! This certainly makes sense. It can’t hurt to at calmly ask for clarification and their justification. Schools don’t seriously write unique recommendations for every college, do they? That seems completely inefficient to me.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77793 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 9
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    Of course, there is no way for her to control how many schools he applies to that do not require recommendations and use SRAR (self-reported academic record) on application (verified by transcript after matriculation). Nor should there be any reason for her to want to limit applications to those schools, since they do not add any burden on her.

    What schools do not require recommendation letters and use SRAR?

    Public universities in some states (e.g. California, Iowa, Pennsylvania) do not require recommendation letters and use SRAR, so they do not add work for the counselor when the student applies to them, and the counselor cannot be a gatekeeper against applying to them. However, if you are not a resident, they may be expensive with no financial aid.
    edited September 9
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  • thumper1thumper1 74373 replies3255 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    One of my kids had a priority early application to a college...no letter of reference, and no transcript...just self reporting of grades. He was accepted very shortly after sending in the about 1/2 page application form.

    Is there a head of guidance at your high school that you can talk to? I think 5 schools is a very lean number (and folks around here know I’m not a fan of applying to tons of schools). Seems like 10 would be more appropriate IF they do have a limit. I would politely inquire about this limit, and get the details from the head of guidance. It would be OK to explain that your son wants to keep his options more open than 5 schools will allow.

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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5405 replies1 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "I think 5 schools is a very lean number"

    One daughter only applied to 5 universities and friends were asking her why she was applying to so few schools. One friend applied to just over 20 (she had good reasons to wonder where she would get in -- she did get into some good ones). I think that a great many students, possibly most students, apply to more than 5 schools.

    I am wondering whether there is some misunderstanding here. I think that misunderstandings are usually best handled by soft spoken questions delivered in person.
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  • tkoparenttkoparent 172 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Our son's school limited the kids to 10 applications, and we found that was OK for us, but 5 is too few, and it also doesn't sound like this was a well-though-out restriction. Assuming other kids are being told the same thing, other parents must also be upset. Maybe you could approach the problem as a group?
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  • racereerracereer 138 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    As others have said, not sure how they can limit how many applications you send out if they are on the Common or Coalition App. The teacher and GC recommendations, once uploaded, are available to send where you want and this includes the grade transcripts. The only recommendations that we had that were school specific were on some of the extra arts portfolios from music teachers.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 808 replies10 threadsRegistered User Member
    Iirc, my daughter applied to 3-4 schools that used the Common App and 3-4 that didn't. None of her GC or teachers needed to write more than one letter.

    And I don't see how a high school can limit how many schools you apply to. OK, maybe they refuse to send your transcript out. But why?
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1664 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Press on. Apply to as many schools as your son wants. Guidance can not place limits.
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    tkoparent wrote: »
    Our son's school limited the kids to 10 applications, and we found that was OK for us, but 5 is too few, and it also doesn't sound like this was a well-though-out restriction. Assuming other kids are being told the same thing, other parents must also be upset. Maybe you could approach the problem as a group?

    I am sort of expecting there will be other students with parents who complain. It is a very competitive high school and there will be other students, like my son, that will want to apply to more than 5 schools and who have parents with the means and resources to do so. I was going to give it a couple weeks, before we need to complete the FAFSA and profiles, before having DS see if anything has changed on her end.
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20723 replies1996 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited September 10
    While 5 is a little thin, schools (GCs) absolutely can place limits on the number of colleges that students can apply to. Usually the 6 choices at CUNY is counted as one application. The 6 choices at SUNY is counted as one application. Even if you are doing the common app for your SUNY schools, some of the schools still go through the SUNY Portal.
    What parents don't realize that on the school's part there are a lot of moving pieces with in the college application process.

    What does the GC's workload look like?
    How large is the caseload?
    Does the GC only do college or is she also responsible for student programming, data, setting up accommodations and related services counseling(nothing trumps the GC doing related services counseling which is essentially why she is in the school)? She could have most of her week dedicated to doing related services counseling and only have a few periods a week for college related activities.

    Is your school using naviance? All of that must be set up

    Will you be using fee waivers? SUNY and CUNY do not use the college board fee waiver (GC's get a list of fee waivers numbers from CUNY and must assign a fee waiver to each student). On the SUNY application, you can use the SUNY application fee waivers, which have to be signed and mailed to SUNY.
    Is your student taking college now/dual enrollment? Schools must receive official transcripts and certify them as official copies and create a new file so that they can be uploaded with the high school transcript. If students attend more than one school, then official transcripts must be received from all of the previous schools and uploaded with the current transcripts.

    This does not include non-custodial waiver letters, letters for unaccompanied minors, homeless youth, etc. in addition to doing an SSR for every student using the common app, updating and uploading the school profiles, etc.

    My recommendation is before you come guns blazing (in a process where your child is on the downside of this power dynamic) have a conversation with the GC and get clarity as what constitutes one application.
    edited September 10
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  • jym626jym626 55364 replies2880 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Agree that schools can limit the # of schools they are willing to send LORs/transcripts to, but if I were you, I’d talk to the head of your school’s college counseling services.
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  • TS0104TS0104 866 replies26 threadsRegistered User Member
    FYI OP you are right about the Common App and rec letters, like @racereer says. One the teacher writes and uploads the letter, then it's "in" the Common App to be sent to whatever schools the student applies to. For non Common App schools, it was a unique process/email for each school. I am guessing that the letters themselves were the same. But it sounds like you are talking about Common App schools.
    Also, my DS' Senior English class worked on college essays first semester. While I realize that this is "late" for many ambitious college applicants, for many, it's right on time and/or the push they need to get them written.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7004 replies50 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My D's school also had a limit of 10. I believe she did meet with her recommenders to tell them where she was applying but more so they knew where she was aiming.

    She had one non CA school which turned out to be a huge PIA and for both counselor and recommender and lots of work.

    While I think 5 is way too few, I wouldn't go in guns blazing either. There is a lot for counselors to get done and they want to make sure everyone has equal time/attention.

    If it truly is just 5 schools, be sure there is at least one safety on that list!
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  • PublisherPublisher 7785 replies80 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Agree that a limit of 5 schools is unreasonable. Seems that 9 is a more reasonable number--especially if divided into 3 reaches, 3 match schools & 3 safeties.
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