More than seven schools. During the fall of 2016 admission cycle, 35 percent of first-time freshmen had applied to seven or more colleges, according to the Education Research Institute’s The American Freshmen report series. For each of these applications, students must write one to four essays, answer personal questions, and pay around $13 to send SAT/ACT scores and around $41 for each college application fee, according to U.S. News & World Report. Students must complete this, whether or not they truly want to attend the college. In the end, they only accept one, so why do students apply to so many? Instead of applying to a long list of colleges, students should focus their time and energy on applications to schools they are truly interested in.
Often students apply to certain colleges because they think they have to. Family pressures, peer pressures, societal pressures, and internal pressures always influence uneasy, self doubting teenagers in regards to college applications. In Piedmont, I often hear of students applying to certain colleges because everyone else is, or because the application is easy to complete. For instance, the University of California they has one application, so students can apply to multiple UC campuses without the extra workload. Also, lower tuition motivates students to apply even if they are not truly interested in attending. The overall cost to attend a UC is $34,700 for California residents, which dramatically contrasts with Harvard’s $69,600-$73,600 combined fees in 2017-2018, according to their website. Even if the costs are tempting, students should not apply to these cheaper schools if they do not plan on attending them.
For other colleges, their applications are often simple, so the highest number of students apply. This keeps their acceptance rates low and rankings high, increasing competition. Many use websites like the Common Application, which sends one essay to multiple colleges, enabling students to easily submit to multiple schools. Even though many also request supplemental essays, only about 85 of 680 colleges on the Common Application require them, according to collegedata.com. These essays range anywhere from Purdue’s 100 word maximum response to Tulane’s 800 word maximum essay. This shows how supplements really do provide the extra work, and I think students should only spend the time writing these supplements for schools they wish to attend.
By applying to fewer schools, students could focus their efforts on perfecting the applications of colleges they actually wish to attend. Not only does applying to so many colleges waste crucial time, money, and energy, but also one’s acceptance takes a spot from someone else. It could be their complete, screaming on the ground, hugging their dog, dream school. And by adding that random who-knows-where-this-is university to your list, the student could take away this opportunity from the other individual. One student’s “safety school” may be another student’s dream university.
Some may use the argument that applying to a higher number of schools gives students more options. Many students are unsure exactly what kind of school they want. Also, because college acceptance competition is ever increasing, students apply to a high number of “safety schools” as backups in case they are not accepted to their highly desired school. I understand all of these arguments; I am not saying that having choices are wrong. However, I think an issue arises when one works so hard on applications to schools they are not interested in. Why take away the place from someone else who wants to go there? Why waste your time and resources, when you could use them on schools you actually want to attend?
Students should only apply to schools that they would be happy to study at, and ask themselves before adding a certain university to their ever growing list, do I really want to attend this college? If the answer is no, then you should not even apply.