Today we kick off a new feature here on the blog: "The Question of the Month." We'll be asking high school college counselors, independent counselors, deans of admission and other experts, such as financial aid officers and psychologists, to respond to our questions about all things college admission. Then we'll bring you their advice on the subject of the moment -- from essays and scholarships to interviews and extracurriculars -- including any words of wisdom on how to handle it all on a day to day basis.
For October, we asked a group of counselors:
"How many colleges should students apply to?"
Mai Lien Nguyen
College and Career Center Coordinator
Mountain View High School
Mountain View, California
People sometimes approach the question of how many colleges they should apply to as if they are preparing for an emergency (e.g. how many extra batteries, water bottles, and matches might I need in case an earthquake hits?!). The ideal number of colleges on a list really depends on each student’s situation, and each person’s balance of “safety/likely, target/match, and reach” will vary. However, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind: