How Many Colleges Should You Apply To?

Harvard University accepted a record-low 4.5 of all applicants in 2019.

How many colleges should I apply to? originally appeared on Quora, the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

It is no secret that college admissions are becoming more competitive to get accepted into each year. Harvard University accepted a record-low 4.5 of all applicants in 2019. Because schools are becoming more competitive, students must be more strategic when building their college list.

Now, this doesn’t mean applying to 40 or 50 schools. Instead, you should build a balanced college list. Start by looking at your grades, SAT scores, and extracurriculars.

Next, start to research schools you would like to attend. Make a spreadsheet and look at the average GPA and SAT/ACT scores for first-year students admitted into the school. See how you compare to those scores, allowing you to build a college list more strategically.

Categorize your list into reach, match, and safety schools. Your college list should contain a mix of these schools to improve your chances of getting into a college.

1. Safety schools are where your academic credentials are higher than the average admitted freshman. The acceptance rate for a safety school must be at least 40%.

2. Match schools are where your academic credentials are around the same as the average admitted freshman with an acceptance rate of at least 30–40%.

3. Reach schools are where your academic credentials are lower but within a close range of the average acceptance college. All schools that accept less than 20% are automatically classified as a reach, no matter who you are and what your grades and scores are.

When calculating how many schools to add to your list, you should consider a few things.

* If you want to stay in-state: Some states like Georgia and Texas offer attractive scholarships that will cover almost the full cost of tuition of public in-state tuition. If you are planning on staying in your home, you should apply to five or six schools.

* If you are unsure: If you are open to going out of state as well, or don’t know what you want to study, I recommend that you apply to 12-15 schools.

* If you are applying to a highly competitive school or program: Students who want to attend an Ivy League school or other schools that have acceptance rates that are 10% or less will need to apply to more universities. The same is true for more students who wish to apply to a direct medical program, which has very competitive. To help increase the chances of getting into a program, students are recommended to apply to at least 15-20 schools.

By creating a balanced college list, it can help you secure a spot at a college.

This question originally appeared on Quora. More questions on Quora:

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