Students Applying to More Colleges Nationwide

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The total number of colleges that students are applying to is on the rise nationwide.

Counselors across the country say the rise in applications is due to the proliferation of the Common Application, on top of a growing fear, especially among higher performing students, that they will not get into the more selective schools.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling is also reporting an increase in the number of applications received at most four-year colleges.

The most recent data on the topic is from 2012, when the association reported 28% of college freshmen having submitted at least seven applications for admissions.

Erica Mellon, a senior at Centaurus High School in Lafayette, Colorado, expects to apply to at least seven colleges, although she said she is still working on her list. She said the application process is “really stressful” while at the same time taking on a full load of advanced classes in the International Baccalaureate program. “Your entire life is on three sheets of paper. I’m nervous that some schools won’t be able to see who I am.”

According to Centaurus counselor David Platt, he has seen an increase in applications as more students are choosing to apply to schools out-of-state. He said that he suggests doing so to students to see if they get better financial aid, adding that application fees are waived for students who qualify as low-income under federal lunch guidelines, reports Amy Bounds for The Denver Post.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications can be submitted as early as January 1, and experts agree that the earlier the applications are submitted, the more likely that students will receive more aid.

While many counselors suggest students create a list of “safety” schools, “reach” schools, and schools that fall somewhere in the middle, staff at Parchment, a company that offers a variety of services to students applying to college, says this strategy may not be necessary.

Matthew Pittinsky, the chief executive officer, said applying to college is in fact very similar to creating a portfolio of financial investments.  “You can actually have a portfolio weighted toward ‘stretch’ schools, and still have a surprisingly high degree of confidence that you will be accepted to at least one school on your list,” Pittinsky said.

Parchment helps students decide how many schools to apply to.  Students supply the company with a list of the schools they are considering in addition to a completed questionnaire.  Using this information the company computes the probability that a student will accepted at each school, based on demographic and academic information for students who have been previously accepted, writes Max Ehrenfreund for The Washington Post.