How to Create a Balanced College List

Creating a balanced college list is essential to student success. Students should apply to no more than 10-12 colleges. This includes 2-3 safety schools that they would attend if admitted, 3-4 likely or target schools, 2-3 reaches, and 1 wild card. Likely or target schools are those with similar GPAs and test scores (if they have them) to theirs. Typically their scores are in the middle 50% of admitted students. Reach schools are those that have much higher academic qualifications and acceptance rates typically below 30%. A school that is considered a wild card has an acceptance rate below 5%. When students apply to more than 12 schools, they may not have the time to write great essays and thoughtfully answer the supplemental questions. Exceptions to this are art, architecture, film, and theatre or vocal majors which require applying to more schools.


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