Generally speaking, eight to 12 schools is enough. To some families that sounds like a lot, others it sounds like it is not enough. Ideally, your student applies to three reach schools, four to five middle-of-the-plate schools and three to four safety schools. The reasoning behind the total of eight to 12 schools is that it allows for options in the case of rejections. Not only admission options, but financial aid options as well.
If your student decides to apply to 16 – 20 schools, there are two problems he or she may run into. First, it’s expensive to apply to so many schools. Application fees can be anywhere from $25 - $75 per school. The second problem is time. The necessary research it would take to apply to each school effectively is beyond time consuming. Typically, it takes 5 – 10 hours to research and apply to one school. That means overall, your student is looking at 80 to 200 hours worth of research and applications. And even if you are using the common app, most schools have supplemental questions that will take time to address properly. When was the last time you or your student had that kind of extra time?
Stick to the eight to 12 range. Be thoughtful about your choices. By doing so, you and your student will save significant amounts of time and money.
*Photo credit, Love Like Harry Photography