College Applications: How Many Is Too Many?

Photo (cc) by neverbutterfly

Celebration or commiseration? As college admission decisions are released, it all depends on what’s inside the envelope.

The admissions process is unpredictable at best. According to Liz Weston of Reuters:

“I have one student this year who was waitlisted at the University of Chicago and accepted at Yale, Harvard and Columbia,” said Shirley Bloomquist, a college counselor in Great Falls, Va., with 30 years of experience.

Another student with similar credentials was accepted to the University of Chicago but rejected by Yale. “It’s much more variable than it used to be,” Bloomquist said.

The most recent “State of College Admission” report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling echoes Bloomquist’s assessment.

U.S. postsecondary institutions are less able to predict enrollment trends today than they were 10 years ago, as evidenced by declining “yield rates” — the number of accepted applicants that ultimately decide to attend a college — as well as the increasing numbers of students placed on wait lists.

Students are submitting more college applications, which makes it difficult for schools to predict how many admitted students will actually enroll. This helps to fuel the admissions unpredictability.

Here are a couple of shocking statistics regarding college applications, according to Weston:

  • Students who applied to seven or more colleges. In 1990, 9 percent did. In 2012, it was 28 percent.
  • Students who submitted three or more applications. In 1990, 61 percent did. By 2012, it was 77 percent.

While some students submit as many as 20 applications, Bloomquist said 10 applications should be sufficient. It’s important to apply to schools in the following three areas:

  • Reach. These schools are long shots, but ones where you have a chance, albeit small, of being accepted.
  • Target. Schools that match your stats, like GPA, test scores and class rank. You should have a good shot of getting accepted at your target schools.
  • Safety. Safety schools are colleges where you exceed all of the admission requirements. Make sure you would be happy to attend your safety school, or it’s not worth applying, Weston said.

You can whittle down a list of prospective colleges by following this advice from Weston: Don’t apply to colleges where you have no chance of getting accepted or to schools you would never want to attend.

I filled out only one college application. I based my decision on where to apply on the following three factors: quality of the journalism program, tuition cost and scholarship potential. I knew I would get accepted by the college I applied to, so that wasn’t a concern.

Honestly, I knew where I wanted to go to college, so I didn’t see any point in wasting my time or money to fill out applications for schools I was fairly certain I wouldn’t go to anyway. But that’s just me.

Do you have any college application experiences you want to share? Comment below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
10 Expenses You Should Not Put on a Credit Card
10 Expenses You Should Not Put on a Credit Card

Sometimes it’s simply safer to keep the plastic tucked away.

Stop Overpaying for These 10 Common Purchases
Stop Overpaying for These 10 Common Purchases

The best price for many of these items is “free.”

17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money
17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money

Here’s how to cut household costs and maintain your property’s value.

7 Mistakes Guaranteed to Ruin Your Retirement
7 Mistakes Guaranteed to Ruin Your Retirement

Make even one of these money mistakes, and you’ll probably end up eating ramen noodles in your golden years.

How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases
How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases

Stop getting sucked into paying a premium when good alternatives are available at huge savings.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

These Major Appliances Got the Worst Reviews in 2020
These Major Appliances Got the Worst Reviews in 2020

Consumer Reports says these home products got the worst ratings from experts.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

15 States With the Largest Homeless Populations
15 States With the Largest Homeless Populations

Some of the states with the highest rates of homelessness might surprise you.

3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2021
3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2021

Still married to your cable company? Hold on to your wallet!

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.