So let’s start out with one simple step: What exactly should your college list be made up of?
Surely, you’ve heard of Safety, Match, and Reach schools.
Well there’s a simple ratio to keep in mind 1-3-1.
For every reach school you want on your list, you should have three matches and a safety school on there as well.
Reaches and safetys should be about balanced, with matches making up the bulk of your list.
Simply, matches are the schools that you will most likely be attending. They’re schools you can likely afford and get into. So you want the most choice possible in that area. You want to be able to compare your options with matches, so apply to a good amount of them.
While you really need one true safety school if you’re choosing wisely, it never hurts to throw on another to be able to compare financial aid or honors programs.
Reaches, while shiny and pretty, should not be where the majority of your time and effort sit. They should be the last applications you fill out (unless they’re ED).
While I recommend that an applicant apply to 5-10 schools, keep the ratios in mind. Too often I see applicants apply to one safety, one match, and twelve reaches. That kind of list doesn’t leave a whole lot of power in the applicants hands.
Remember 1-3-1 is the golden rule.