What is the impact of kids applying to so many schools?

Several years ago, when our S did this, he applied to 12 schools, which was on the high side. Then, a few days ago, I read a post where a student said they applied to 50 schools. Another listed out all 37.

Quote from a thread yesterday
We are in a new world, where next year, our GC anticipates the amount of students applying to 20+ schools more than quadrupling.

Then you have this.

Even though students are applying to twice or even more times the schools they did just a few years ago, the basic math of this hasn’t changed from 2018 to 2022. There are still about the same number of students competing for about the same number of slots.

You have the common app, test-optional, schools with no supplemental essays, a whole industry that will help you prepare, a lot of kids have the ability to apply to a lot more schools, and why shouldn’t they and will they have to, to be able to compete? It’s not right; it’s not fair that say the kid who applied to 50 schools gets into 25. Theoretically, that’s 24 places that someone else who wanted that school doesn’t get.

A quick look at Auburn rounding off stats:

2017 - 18000k Applied about 15k Accepted, 4800 Enrolled, 84% Acceptance Rate Yield 32%
2021 27,500 Applied 19,500 Accepted, 5300 Enrolled, 71 Acceptance Rate, Yield 27%
2022 40k apply - Talk about the new math.

I know the southern schools are more popular now, but Pitt reported 70% in apps. Thoughts, opinions, concerns?


My take on the reasoning and impact, from another thread:
(click on the link to view the post properly)


I am seeing this played out first hand. We know a student who applied early action to their top choice school got differed and discouraged. Visited a safety they got into EA, liked it all ready to pull the trigger, and found out last week they got into their top choice. Now they don’t know what to do.

Applying to 50 schools you could list that on your AP as an EC


ACT optional has changed the whole landscape. There’s a ton of kids with good grades and good EC’s and average ACT’s. They’re now getting accepted to more prestigious private schools and highly ranked state flaghips that they would not have gone to in the past. The losers are the state directional schools where many of these kids would have gone to in the past. Enrollment at the University of Wisconsin state campuses is down at almost all of the campuses except Madison which is seeing record applicants.


Is there any data on test-optional admissions?


My daughter applied to 20 schools fall of 2020, pretty much all safeties/matches because she needed merit (amounts varied greatly), she couldn’t really visit, and with Covid restrictions changing, she met adding more schools.


Some of the really big numbers you see (students apply to 75 schools) are through an application that is the same for 50 schools, or no cost, or no essays. They figure why not one more?

There is still work that needs to be done, however, like watching for emails or showing interest.

I don’t get the point. My kids did their due diligence up front and each applied to the school they wanted. Both happened to be rolling admissions so they got the acceptances almost immediately and were done.


My older son applied to 10 (but 6 were UCs so 1 app) and younger son to 1 (ED). Maybe it is time to limit the number of colleges one can apply to. I see no need for more than 10, certainly not 50, if you make sure you have a couple of safeties that you would be happy with. With so many apps I think showing interest is going to be very important.


Certainly there is a logic to this when looking for merit. Do you think you have applied to less schools if you had been able to visit

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Persons on this forum are not at all representative of the typical college applicant. Among persons who use the common app, the mean was 5.3 college per applicant pre-COVID and 5.8 post-COVID. NACAC surveys consistently show only a small minority of students submit 7+ college applications.

That said, the number of applications per student is no doubt increasing. Contributing factors include increased selectivity, common app and similar make it easy to submit to multiple colleges at once (for example, UC system), and increased uncertainty about chance of admission.

If the number of applications is a big problem, then groups that have influence on number of applications are likely to make changes. For example, if a college has a problem with too many applications, it might add an additional requirement that takes time beyond things automatically done in common app. If GC or teachers are getting overwhelmed at a particular HS by number of applications, they may institute a cap on whatever factors are problematic. If a particular student is being overwhelmed by too many applications, he/she might cut some of the unlikely reaches and chose to submit fewer.


The result is uncertainly in the admissions offices. Schools have a more difficult time projecting yield, and they saw a few schools over-enrolled last year.

This could mean a smaller number of offers and many more waitlist offers over the summer.

It means a lower acceptance rate, but that’s just math - not really meaningful. In the end, each student attends one school.


Probably, she did manage to get three formal tours plus a weekend visit to her sister’s college before the shutdown, visited four colleges to walk the campuses after acceptances, some some she never ended up visiting because merit wasn’t not enough, or not enough time left to visit after acceptance (different areas). It was pretty depressing compared to her older siblings experiences with college visits. She really didn’t want to go to our flagship (with her twin brother), and merit was the only way that was going to happen.

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I hope your daughter found a school that is a great fit. Kids really took it on the chin in so many ways. Our S was year before your daughter and we go to visit a ton of colleges but had a Zoom HS Graduation.


I’d be curious to compare # of total applications vs. # of First Time Freshman.

Will 2022 Be Another Record-Setting Year For College Admissions?.

It’s interesting the data from the common app doesn’t seem to match with some other data.

Yes, and even though they gave less merit than many others, she fell in love the second she stepped on campus, even without seeing the insides of any building, and after missing her entire senior year (and half of junior year) we told her to accept. She feels like she won the lottery and couldn’t be happier (this was a very last minute application, knew nothing about the school).


The Common App doesn’t capture all the schools. My daughter applied to 12 and only 5 of those were through the Common App.

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I don’t see the contradiction. The article mentions that a cherry picked sample of colleges had increases in number of early applications this year. The most selective colleges that had large increases upon going test optional seem to generally report similar or small increases compared to last year – 7% increases at Harvard, 8% decrease at Yale, “roughly the same” at Dartmouth, etc. The larger reported increases occurred in Florida colleges (article attributes this to “grandparent waiver”) . The article also references a post on CC that says a very large increase at BC (contradictions about specific numbers elsewhere).

However, this says very little about how much average applications as a whole have changed, particularly among typical students including those who are not focused on Ivy+ type private colleges. For example, it doesn’t list what portion of students submitted >= 7 applications. The NACAC surveys always say only a small minority of students submit >=7 applications. Has this changed such that it is no longer a minority? The article doesn’t give enough information to conclude such a change.

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unless they have a admission fee waiver that’s some serious $$$ to apply to 20+ schools! Most schools are $50-$75 per school.

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My kid applied to a lot of schools. I won’t say how many but more than 10 and less than 20. There were two additional apps left unfinished by the deadline. Both schools reached out and gave my kid an extension. One waived the fee and gave an extension. These were amazing schools (one was UChicago). So they are fostering this craziness.

My kid is sitting on multiple offers but the delays in EA on some and regular decision means nothing will be known until 4/1. No decisions can be made by our kid until then.

Kid isn’t happy in limbo-land. The only friends who are happy are those who got in ED. Many most EA’s were deferred or they got into 1/2 or 1/3 and are still waiting on others.
Serious cash.
Such a joke.
Bottom line is, tons of stress for kids and waiting lists that move a lot. Lots of kids will end up at in state schools because it’s easier and the choices are often pretty good and prices can be lower.