How many colleges should I apply to?

Hi everyone! I am a rising senior and am currently trying to narrow down my college list. Due to the coronavirus I will not be able to visit the colleges on my list before I submit my application (with the exception of 2 colleges that are very close to me and I drove around the campus). My list is currently at 14 schools, is this too much? I have already written my essay and I plan to fill out most of the basic info on the common app before school starts. Only 6 of the schools on my list have supplements or optional essays (I plan to complete all the optional essays to show my interest). Many of the schools are emailing me and offering to waive my application fee. I especially want to hear the opinions of other rising seniors and/or their parents and find out how many schools other seniors are applying to.

Why 14? Surely you can trim that list based on net price, major(s) offered, size, location - i.e. “fit”?

In my opinion, 14 schools is reasonable so long as they are affordable and within your range of stats (GPA & ACT / SAT score).

OP: Consider listing the 14 schools and your stats.

P.S. 14 is a reasonable number due in part to the fact that you have not visited the schools due to Covid-19 outbreak.

As a prospective business major, it is important to apply to several schools which offer “direct admission” to the business school or major.

From our current experience: after you complete your search for fit, the number of colleges you should apply to is inversely proportional to the time you will need for each of their “why” essays and writing supplements, to get them to the level your obsessive side of personality is happy with. The rest (other than watching for deadlines) seems trivial in comparison.
Our D applies to 21, due to her untypical mix of talents, and let me tell you, there have been hardly any summer, and the stress level is unhealthy, mostly due to essay perfectionism.

If you strive for “essay perfectionism” then, in my opinion, you misunderstand the purpose of college application essays.

P.S. Striving for perfectionism when writing a college app essay may ruin the writing by making it appear too artificial–somewhat like putting on too much make-up.

The goal is not to produce a publishable writing, but to share a genuine portrait of oneself or of a part of oneself.

@ArtsyKidDad or to any CC reader:

What elements make a “perfect essay” ?

I ask because so many spend weeks or months revising essays which may make for a good landscape painting, but are ineffective as a portrait of the applicant. The result often feels forced and disingenuous due to excessive editing.

14 is on the high side but not completely crazy, especially if a large number are reaches. How many would you consider reach/match/safety?

If you have the time to complete the applications properly, then it seems to make sense. I think my D had 12 or 13 that we visited, eventually applying to 7. Since you can’t visit, 14 is in the same ballpark.

Don’t underestimate the number of supplemental essays. You may also have extra if you apply to honor colleges. My D applied to 8 schools and wrote 19 essays. It was a lot of work!

I personally think 10 should be fine for most students.

My eldest applied to 12, which was a LOT of work. I have no idea how people apply to 20. Even as she applied, she had lost interest in a couple of the schools, so those apps were a waste of time. 5 of the colleges she applied to were very selective and all but one had supplemental essays. Other colleges weren’t as selective, but had supplements nonetheless.

My youngest, a college sophomore, applied to 7. Even that was a fair amount of work, because he applied to three colleges that had lots of supplements. Two of those schools are considered highly selective, the third is moderately selective.

The more reaches (bearing in mind that a reach for you might be a match for someone else, etc) you apply to, the more work it will be. But even match schools can have plenty of supplements. A student can have a very good choice of schools if he applies to, let’s say, 3-4 reaches, 4-5 matches, 1-2 safeties.

Show interest by signing up for emails, signing up for virtual tours or student QA sessions, requesting interviews if possible, and meeting with regional reps if possible. Remember that often, supplemental questions and essays are designed to gauge genuine interest. I think a lot of colleges will be looking for that this coming year.

I think 14 is fine, especially if they are selective, small, and/or you need merit. My son started with a slightly longer list. A few came off with visits. But his CC felt a list of that size was reasonable for an unhooked student applying to smaller schools (targeting roughly 250 men in their freshman class, including athletes, legacies, etc.)

If there are any that you particularly like that provide decisions early, that can help. If you are accepted to those, any that were "behind " them on your list can come off pre-app. But that isn’t always the case.

Know, though, that you’ll still need to decide in spring when you have decisions. For some students, a big list represents an inability to figure out what they want. It’s fine to use time to work that out, but make sure you do that work!

Targeting 14 initially is fine, especially if school specific essays/short answers are limited. The strategy though should be to start with your top choices, maybe 4-5, including any that are EA, ED or rolling. Assuming you get into one of those schools prior the RD deadline, you can eliminate any school that you ranked lower, unless you are chasing merit and you are unsatisfied with or uncertain of the aid/merit you have gotten from the school(s) that accepted you.

I think the the best way to go about this is to choose the safety and divide the matches and reaches into which are the “favorites”, and which are somewhat less so. Finish your applications to these first, and then keep on filling out applications until you’ve had enough.

That way, even if you run out of steam, it will be after you applied to your “favorites”, and even if you don’t, I would guess that the last essays won’t be as good as the ones in the beginning and middle.

Depends upon your approach. Applying to 4 schools was sufficient because two were rolling admissions schools. Both successful & one offered foreign travel, full tuition & fees plus room, but not board.

Probably need more since OP was unable to visit more than two schools.

I think 14 is fine. Keep in mind and leave time for essays. Just make sure you have a safety or two and targets that you would be happy attending…along with reaches.

If you are applying to selective schools, then 14 is a good number because there is no guarantee. Also, COVID has added extra uncertainty.

If you can’t visit schools before hand, you can add a few more to the list.

I visited about 20 starting in freshman year (5 in MA) and was able to eliminate some before applying. I’m glad I got the chance to visit before …because after acceptances everything was shut down.

Ps…do virtual tours and if things don’t open up maybe drive and spend a weekend in a college town you are interested in.