In an age of so much online information, students should be able to determine a good college fit. You can email and call admissions offices and take virtual tours, and there are many college comparison and fit sites online as well. The three most important areas to judge college fit: academics, cost, and social factors, are outlined in detail on college websites.
Instead, however, the average number of colleges students apply to is 9! That’s too many. Think of the cost, not to mention the time wasted applying.
One reason students apply to so many schools is they figure once they have gained admission they will then give fit consideration, but fit should be considered up front. Students also feel to have several acceptances in hand will reduce stress, but it’s just as stressful to choose on April 30th as it is now, maybe more stressful.
Competition for admission and emphasis on selectivity is another reason some students apply to so many colleges. They might feel a college they fit with well won’t accept them or will be out of range financially. That is why many students add safety schools to their list, even if they don’t want to attend those schools.
But remember, although acceptances are in decline, so are yield rates, that is, the number of students who actually end up attending a college. One reason yield rates are down is exactly because students are applying to so many colleges and application numbers are up, but those numbers do not always reflect interest.
Now schools are beginning to look at highly qualified applicants and pass over them for candidates who express real interest in their college and who are not just applying as part of the admissions game.
The conclusion: research schools carefully now for fit and apply to them by following up on your applications to show your sincere interest. You have a better chance of ending up where you want to be while spending less time and money and being less stressed.
Check out our Choosing a College section and get 5 detailed steps for college selection along with other helpful articles.