Applying to colleges: How many?

Question: What is the right number of schools to apply to?

Answer: On the average, I recommend applying to six to 10 schools, but it can be a very individualized decision. If you have a student who appears to have a strong chance of being accepted to the University of Washington and that is the student’s first choice, you can comfortably apply to fewer schools. If you are only interested in attending Washington public universities, then you can focus your list on the five schools in our state. Sometimes students will add the University of Oregon with its automatic admission policy just to round out their list, especially if they are not interested in attending school in eastern Washington.

If you have a student who is not excited about attending any of the safety schools on your list, you might need to have a list of up to eight to 10 schools, with a higher number of probable schools, just to ensure that you have some choices in April. Ideally, you have created a list of all schools where your student would be excited to go, even if that means looking beyond the West Coast or considering many of the wonderful schools in the middle of the country that are often ignored by students from the Northwest.

I think it can get tricky for the student who is looking at highly selective schools. Do not think that your chances of admission increase simply by adding more schools to the mix. If a very selective school on the list rejects your student, there is a good chance that the other selective schools may not deliver anything more promising. Having said that, I usually advise students to have one to two stretch schools on their list if they are schools that offer something that cannot be found at less selective schools. Knowing that applying early decision at some schools can increase one’s chances considerably, I suggest that you consider going that route especially if your stats do not put you on top of their applicant pool. I would recommend ensuring that the other six to eight schools on your list are evenly divided between probable and safety schools. To know where your student falls as you decide between stretch, probable and safety, you want to find the profile of admitted students on the school’s Web page. You will see the average grades and scores of accepted students, and the percent of applicants who were accepted. What is not necessarily available is information on what percentage of students were legacies, recruited athletes or had other “hooks” that may have boosted their chance of admission.

Contact Joan Franklin at

Mock SAT at MIHS, Saturday

MIHS will host a mock SAT test on Saturday, Sept. 25. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the test starts at 9 a.m.

The practice test provides students with a chance to take it like the real SAT, with a complete analysis of performance after scores are received.

Contact Ann Marie Lewis at 230-0146 or 230-5996 for more information.

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