Applying to different colleges

Is there any way to apply to more than 20 colleges?? The common app allows only to apply to 20 colleges max, but I’m an international student who needs a lot of financial aid, and I have a lot of time to devote to a lot of applications, so I want to increase my chances as much as I can.

PS: I do NOT, in any way intend to ask for an illegal or fraudulent method. I’m only wondering whether there is a legal way to do this.

common app
coalition app (equivalent to the commonapp, but not all colleges accept it)
and of course some colleges provide an opportunity or even require to apply through their personal websites (mit, georgetown, babson etc.)

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If you need financial aid, you probably qualify through Questbridge. It’s a really good program that you should look into. Don’t apply to the same college twice through different websites.

Thanks!! This was helpful :smiley::grinning:

Wow. I did not realize international students could use questbridge as well. Thanks a lot!!!

If you are an international student living abroad I do not believe you are eligible for Questbridge:

International students living outside the U.S. are not eligible to apply to the National College Match..

I would also caution you against applying to over 20 schools. Beside the common app essay, each school will have their own individual essays. Some schools can have three or more school specific essays. Sometimes there will be even more for honors college programs and merit awards. My D applied to 8 schools and wrote 19 essays. Don’t underestimate the time it will take to craft a well written essay. Schools want to see that you match with them not just academically but also will fit into their unique community.

I’d encourage you to apply to the small number of schools that meet demonstrated need for international students and then do a deeper dive to narrow down the list. Have safety schools in your home country.

Look at the mission and vision statements for each school you are considering. Read the student newspapers. Research what is happening at those schools in your intended major.

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You can’t apply to the national college match, you can only go through the regular admissions process. I think you mainly want the option to apply to more colleges though, so Questbridge should help. There is an exception: Brown, Pomona, Princeton, and Yale, who may consider college match scholarships from students who are not U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents.

How many colleges do you have in mind? Application fees are expensive.

I think OP can still apply through regular decision

I actually have a looot of colleges in mind… About 30 and counting. But I’m first going to focus on a few reach and safety applications, and after those will do as many extra as possible.

30? Wow. That’s a lot of work, and I wish you the best. Personally, I would stick to 7-8 because if you want 30 good essays it’s gonna take a while.

Thanks mate! I know that’s a lot but I need to give it all as my chances of acceptance are going to be quite low. Plus I have less pressure of ECs due to lockdown and hence I can focus more on writing essays.

Also… I just read a thread from an outstanding international student who got rejected from 15 colleges out of the 16 he applied to, and… Well that tensed me up real good🙂

Yeah, I read that one too. If I recall correctly, he needed financial aid and only applied to top colleges as an international applicant. Not necessarily the winning strategy. Put emphasis on your safety/match applications. Is there not many good universities you can apply to in your country?

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Admission to US colleges for internationals requiring financial aid is extremely competitive. You need to have back ups in your home country or possibly Canada or Europe.


This is faulty logic. Applying to more schools isn’t really going to improve your chances. It is NOT a lottery system. Your best strategy is to apply based on your grades, test scores, course rigor, extracurriculars, essays, and teacher recommendations in comparison to other accepted students. Apply to a range of colleges that meet financial need for internationals. That doesn’t mean apply to all colleges that offer FA to internationals and hope something works out. It means apply to colleges that you might have a shot of getting into based on all the stuff I just mentioned. All the app fees alone will cost thousands.


Yes of course. I have completely thought this through and have a backup plan for every possible outcome. I will easily get admission in a really good college in my country… But I don’t agree with the education system here at all. They put too much stress on theory and theory only… And no activities whatsoever. That is the reason I’m applying to US colleges.

P.S. The student suicide rates here are off the charts😐

I’m sorry if you misunderstood what I said. All the colleges which I’m considering applying to, I have as good a chance of getting accepted as most applicants from my country. Which is why I want to apply to as much of them as possible.

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I thin shotgunning isn’t going to be useful. It’s insanely expensive, and if all of the colleges you apply to say no, then what? Are you confident that you’ll get an acceptance letter from the majority of them?

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Well it won’t be too much expensive. Many colleges automatically waive application fees for international applicants… And most of the rest waive it if your counsellor mails them about it. As I said, even if I don’t get accepted to a single college in USA, I will get a pretty great college ( only in the matter of studies and placements) here in my country. I’m sure because our college application system is entirely different from USA’s holistic process.

Ok, if you say so. Good luck!