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4 Reasons to Apply to Multiple Colleges

Once you've visited colleges and narrowed down the list of schools you're interesting in attending, it's time to consider where you will apply. There is no right number when it comes to how many applications to complete — whether that be as few as three or as many as eight — but applying to multiple colleges is universally recommended for many reasons.

Applying for college has become much more competitive in the past two decades.

Just because you meet a school's minimum entrance criteria does not guarantee you an acceptance letter. Applying to multiple schools increases your chances of acceptance and good financial aid packages.

Many schools have changed their entrance and application requirements over the past few years. Be sure you understand what GPA, test scores and other criteria you need to be considered, as well the application requirements such as essays or letters of recommendation.

You should apply to the colleges you really want to attend as well as at least one safety school.

Most experts recommend you apply to a couple of reach schools, several schools you feel are a great match for you academically and otherwise and a couple of safety schools.

Difference between a reach, match and safety school.
Reach colleges are ones you may barely meet the minimum entrance criteria for or that are considered elite. Getting accepted at one of these colleges would be a stretch.
Match schools are ones where you solidly meet the entrance requirements and you feel you would fit in well. You may or may not get accepted at a match college based on the other students trying to earn a spot.
Safety colleges are those where you feel you definitely would be accepted based on their academic criteria and your test scores. There is nothing wrong with safety schools and, in fact, they may offer you a great financial aid package to get you to attend there.

It may make sense to apply to a number of colleges instead of just two or three.

If you apply to the school of your dreams and one safety school that you're not thrilled about, and you are not accepted in your first-choice college, what are you going to do? Attend the safety college that was just a backup in your mind? If you're not sure where you stand academically (maybe you earn good grades but attend a large high school where it's difficult to figure out where you truly rank), applying to six or seven colleges with varying entrance criteria and different student body numbers may give you multiple options to determine best fit, which may even surprise you. But, also keep in mind that most college applications come with fees. Applying to schools you know you don't meet basic entrance criteria can cost you unnecessary cash. Save that money and put it toward costs at a college where you can get accepted.

Costs may play a big role in your final choice.

If you apply only to schools you think you can afford based on the “sticker price,” you may miss out on colleges that offer great financial aid packages. Be sure to review the overall costs and factor in financial aid packages and scholarship options. You can use tools like a net price calculator online to figure your actual costs.

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