As it comes closer to that wonderful time of college applications, you’ll have to start deciding where you’ll be applying to.
Even if you already have some ideas where to apply to, it’s usually good to decide in concrete first where you’ll be applying. of course, before you apply you need to have a high school diploma if you didn’t get it yet apply fast for free GED classes or programs that are available in every city.
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The average student will apply to somewhere between five and ten schools. This gives you a good selection once you know where you’re admitted, and you can pick your best fit of those.
You should never put all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to college applications. The best way to decide where to apply is to divide your colleges into three main categories: Top choices, safety schools, and reach schools.
#1: Your top choices
You should apply first and foremost to your top choices — the schools you can realistically see yourself attending. These are schools that you have a reasonable chance of getting into, and it’s reasonably likely that you would also attend them if you were accepted.
These are the meat and potatoes of your applications, and you should make sure that these applications are bulletproof. Even if some of the schools are a bit of a stretch, chances are you’ll be admitted into at least one.
I recommend applying to at least three of these schools, if not more.
#2: Your safety school(s)
Safety schools are schools that you are extremely confident will admit you. These schools are your Plan B — if none of your top choices accept you for some horrible reason, at least your safety school will still take you. Chances are you won’t need your safety, but it’s good to know that you’re admitted at least somewhere.
Depending on how strong your high school resume is, what might be a “safety school” for you could be someone else’s top choice. Apply to the best safety school you can, but make sure that you’re extremely confident that you’ll be accepted. You can even apply to different ‘levels’ of safety schools, where some are more sure bets than others.
You probably won’t need more than two safety schools, if even that many.
#3: Your reach school(s)
A “reach” school is a school that you don’t think you’ll get into, but you think you might have a chance. Depending on how good your grades are, this could range from Harvard to a good state university.
Applying to one or two reach schools is fine, but they should only be added as an afterthought — not the main focus of your applications.
Bear in mind that it costs money to apply to most schools. Unless you can get the fee waived or you can afford to apply to a lot of schools, you shouldn’t be applying to a bunch of different schools on a whim.
Decide how much you’re willing to spend on applications, and keep track so that you don’t cross that amount. Don’t apply to more schools just for the sake of applying, though. Make sure it’s a place that you would actually consider attending if you’re admitted.