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415 626 2919

Next Steps Blog


Urban College Counseling 101: Building Your List

Throughout the fall, the Urban college counselors will focus on important, basic (but sometimes complicated!) questions that come up again and again in the college process. In the first of the blog series, we address how to build an application list that makes sense.

How many colleges should I apply to?

This is a question that we are often asked. Of course it varies from student to student, but there are some important considerations that apply to all students.

Our general recommendation is that a student apply to around 10 colleges. By the fall of the Senior year after doing research, considering your stats, and thinking about what you want in a college, it is time to narrow the list down. Ten is a do-able number of applications to fill out without being overwhelmed with work and essay writing. Every college on the list should be a college that you want to attend. Most colleges in the list should be schools where most of the students accepted have similar numerical statistics to you. Some colleges on the list should be schools that have accepted all students with your numerical statistics. And, some schools should be schools where the chances for acceptance are not great.

Why not apply to more?

1. Demonstrating to the college that you are a good match is very important. That takes time, effort and thought. Each application should be considered the most important application! Ten is a reasonable number of applications in which the quality and individualization can be consistently high.

2. Applying to more colleges does not necessarily mean being accepted to more colleges. A thoughtful application will probably increase your chance of being accepted. A thoughtful list will assure that you will have choices. Putting the time and effort into fewer applications will undoubtedly result in a higher rate of acceptance.

3. It does not feel good to be rejected by most of the colleges to which you apply! And, if you have TOO many choices in the spring and have not done your homework up front, making a decision in a short amount of time in April can be very difficult.

4. It is expensive!

Why not apply to fewer?

1. The admissions landscape is unpredictable. You need to give yourself options because admissions decisions vary from year to year.

2. A student applies in the fall and/or winter, but does not make decisions until late in the Senior year. Students change, opinions change. What seem like solid preferences in November could look very different in May.

3. If a student is applying for financial aid, there is even less predictability. Financial Aid packages vary tremendously and there is no way to know what it will be until after the acceptance.

In addition to the advice of your assigned college counselor, Naviance can help give you an idea about statistics at Urban and how your numbers compare to those of Urban students from previous years. Data is helpful but it never tells the whole story. Do use the Urban College Office to help fill in the blanks.

Posted by Lauren Gersick on Thursday September, 24, 2015 at 01:39PM


Choose groups to clone to:


Susan Lee
Co-Director of College Counseling
415 593 9511

Lauren Gersick
Co-Director of College Counseling
415 593 9512

Leslie Schaffer
College Counseling Assistant
415 593 9519

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