How Many Colleges Should I Apply For

Senior year is one of the busiest times of your high school experience, especially during the fall. It’s your final opportunity to raise your GPA and your last round of Friday night football games and homecoming dance. On top of that it’s the time when students start applying for college, which takes a lot of time and effort, so you don’t want to do more work than you have to.

Of course, you should always make sure that you apply for an adequate number of colleges. When I asked my high school guidance counselor how many colleges should I apply for, she advised me to apply to two safe schools, two schools at your level, and two reach schools. However, applying to many more than that isn’t necessary.


One of the main reasons why you should consider how many colleges should I apply for is financial reasons. In order to apply to a university, you have to pay a non-refundable application fee. For me, that was between $20-$60 depending on the school.

In addition to the application fee, you also have to pay to have transcripts to be sent out, and the total cost adds up with each transcript you send. For each transcript I sent, I had to pay $4.25 which isn’t cheap.

Also keep in mind that it costs money to send ACT scores to each school if you want to preview your score first, so that is another cost you have to multiply by the number of schools you are applying to.

College visits are also play an important part in figuring out how many colleges you should apply for. It is a good idea to get a feel for the campus to see if it is a good fit for you, before making your final decision. Depending on how far away the school you are visiting is and whether you drive or fly to get there can determine how much you spend on the particular college visit. When I visited the University of Miami with my mom, we had to fly to get there and spent the weekend there which added the cost of a hotel room. If you do this for each college you are applying for, the costs will add up so it’s important to only apply to the schools you are seriously considering attending.


Applying for colleges is not only a financial investment, you have to invest a lot of time in the process as well. For each college you apply for, besides the general information you have to fill out, there is also a section about extracurriculars and an essay portion.

The essay is one of the most important parts of your application and it takes a lot of time and effort to write a quality essay. They usually consist of 600 words a piece, and there are many different prompts you could be required to write on depending on the school. No student I know has time to write 20 different college essays on top of all the other school work and extracurricular activities they have going on, so it is important to keep your list of colleges as selective as possible.

In addition to costing a lot, college visits also take up a lot of time. If you apply to ten schools that is ten days of school you have to miss or weekends you have to give up to go view colleges.

You will only attend one school in the end

At the end of the day, after all the applying is done and you’ve gotten your acceptance letters, you will only be attending one school in the fall. Yes, it is important to have options, but you have to narrow down your choices and make a final decision eventually.

If you have 20 schools to choose from, it can get confusing which schools really stood out to you after visiting and applying to so many. You can not get all the money and time that you spent applying to all the schools back, so you should consider which colleges you can realistically see yourself attending.

Applying for colleges during the fall of your senior year is an exciting time and gets you a step closer to starting the next chapter of your life. Remember to think logically about the number of schools you apply to so you don’t waste time and money that could be spent elsewhere.

Related Posts

The following two tabs change content below.
Shannon Kelly

Shannon Kelly

Shannon Kelly is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying journalism. She is involved with the student newspaper, new student programing, and greek life on campus. She has a passion for travel, loves animals, and is always up for an adventure. Shannon also enjoys movies, music and fashion.