How Many Colleges Should You Apply To?

on February 7, 2017

Although it’s common for students to apply to 20 colleges, experts say that this is excessive. Depending on your academic objectives and financial capabilities, applying to up to 15 colleges is appropriate. For most, only six to 10 applications are necessary. The majority of students apply to less than 10 colleges. 


As you begin compiling a list of the colleges that are best for you, take these tips into consideration.


Consider Application and Tuition Costs


First, be mindful of cost. Applications cost an average $44 and can be as high as $90. Plus, for many colleges, you’ll have to send SAT or ACT scores, which cost about $12 per submission after the first four.


Counting additional AP Scores, SAT Subject Tests and transcripts, these expenses add up. College visits also cost money. In the end, you need to decide how much money you're willing to spend on applications. 


You also should be realistic about your tuition budget. If you need to attend a public university with lower tuition rates, apply to more than one and be sure talk to your college counselor about scholarships or grants.


Plan Your Time


You must plan for the application process. Each essay takes time, and although many colleges use the Common Application, you still have to carve out hours for supplementary essays and short answer questions. 


Research is a vital step in creating your application list, since each college will want to see exactly why you want to attend their college or university. If you’re interested in a niche subject or field, find colleges with appropriate programs or majors and prioritize those applications. If you’re set on one college, apply for early admission.


So, How Many?


If you're still unsure, you should consider applying to at least two safety colleges, two to three target colleges and one to three reach colleges. There are plenty of resources available to identify your chances of admission at a college — this Cappex tool shows you how you rank among admitted students at a particular college.


Applying to college? Cappex can help. Take a spin through the Cappex Application, a free tool that allows students to apply to multiple colleges at once.

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