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The College App Craze: More is not Better

Essays. Transcripts. Standardized test scores. Recommendation letters. Interviews. Early decision. Early action. Am I making you nervous yet?

For seniors and freshmen alike, the phrase “college application” is a source of anxiety. I distinctly remember my brother stressing over his Common Apps and supplementary essays during the beginning of his senior year. Yet, according to The New York Times, seniors are applying to more colleges than ever before. While six or eight applications used to be impressive, ten applications is now commonplace. Kids are applying to twenty or even thirty schools. In fact, someone applied to 86 schools last year. Why is it that we’re subjecting ourselves to more stress than necessary?

While certain factors such as the usage of the now-common Common Application encourage numerous applications, so does fear. Kids are just plain scared of not being accepted into college because it seems to get harder each year.

The only logical answer, it seems, is to apply to more schools. But this logic can actually hurt students more than it helps.

One huge drawback of manic applications is that it quickly becomes expensive. According to U.S. News Report,  the average college application fee is around $41. Now multiply that by twenty, thirty, or even eighty-six schools. Also, there’s also the problem of being rejected by school after school. If you apply to twenty schools, imagine how it’d feel getting rejected by more than ten of them.

The main reason not to apply to dozens of schools is that doing so doesn’t actually increase your chances of receiving an acceptance letter. Most colleges want to see that you have a genuine interest in attending. They want to see that you visited the campus, attended a college night, or personally contacted the school to ask questions. You cannot do that if you’ve applied to too many colleges. Plus, many college counselors advise that the best strategy is to carefully select a few colleges and to dedicate yourself seriously to them.

So before you start writing that fifteenth supplementary essay, take a second and think if you’ve applied to a few too many schools.

Take that time to polish a few of the applications you really care about. It could be the difference between a rejection and an acceptance.

Written by Jane Li’18


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