Frequently I find students applying to too many colleges. They think there’s some underlying mathematical equation that says the more colleges you apply to, the greater your chances are of being admitted to one.
Unfortunately, it’s just not true. Especially with the more selective schools that sit atop the various sets of rankings. If your profile as an applicant doesn’t match up well with what the school looks for, no matter how many schools you apply to, admission isn’t likely.
So, what are students to do?
The first thing I tell my students to do is to get beyond this ever-growing obsession with brand names. In my experience, what you do with your college experience is more predictive of your future success in life. It’s not the name of the school or how highly they were ranked on US News or Forbes. In fact, in most high profile professional fields a bachelor’s degree doesn’t get you very far. You’re going to need a master’s degree, or more, and that’s where you should be more focused on name brand recognition.
It’s about where you finish, not where you start.
The second thing I tell them is to build a college list that is focused more on quality than quantity.
I tell them they should be applying to colleges they love and where they feel they will be happy and successful. I tell them to apply to colleges they can afford. I tell them to apply to colleges where they will find everything they are looking for, where they will grow as people and where they will be successful.
Sometimes this means the list of colleges is five, sometimes it’s eight.
Regardless of the number, what matters most is how much effort they put into connecting with these schools prior to applying. When a student has matched themselves up well with a college and then does the right things along the way such as visiting, sitting in on a class, interviewing with an admission counselor, meeting with a professor or coach, attending special visit programs or an open house – when some combination of these factors happens, admission becomes much more likely.
Because demonstrated interest matters more now than it ever has. Colleges are in the business of enrolling students and as the number of applications far exceeds the number of seats in an incoming class, it becomes critical for colleges to identify the students who are most likely to enroll. There are so many ways to demonstrate your interest to a school while you attempt to learn everything you can about it. Apply to too many schools and you may not be able to demonstrate your interest let alone put together quality applications.
Ultimately, there will be circumstances outside of your control so make peace with that idea and control what you can: which colleges you apply to and how sincere and genuine your interest is. You may not get in everywhere you apply to, but if you conduct your college search the right way, you will get into and enroll at a college you love.
If you would like some assistance with your college search, contact me today for a free 60-minute consultation.