By: Al Brouillard Copyright 2003.
Deciding which schools to apply to will be difficult. There are over 3,000 colleges and only one you!
This means that you need to be extremely selective in how you spend your time. Wouldn't it be great if we
could fill out just one application, pay one fee, and be considered by every school in the country?
Alas, such is not the case so you will have to limit your choices, or go crazy.
The best way to decide how many schools to apply to, and which kind of schools they should be,
is to think of colleges as Neapolitan ice cream. You remember, that tri-flavor,
tri-color ice cream that our parents bought every time we had a birthday party?
For most families, the strawberry ice cream was always the least desirable and the last flavor remaining in
the box, the vanilla was likable and delicious, but the chocolate was the flavor which everyone fought over.
While your order of preference may be different, like Neapolitan ice cream, colleges may also be divided into
three different categories of desirability.
The schools that you are sure you can get into, though don't have a strong desire to attend, are your
strawberry flavor. The schools that are selective, and
which you still have a good shot at and wouldn't mind attending, are your vanilla ice cream.
And the highly selective schools (This year Harvard accepted only 11% of those who applied) and the ones
you really, really want to attend are your chocolate.
When deciding where to apply, make sure that
you have a couple of schools in each flavor. Even if you think that you don't have a chance at getting
into a chocolate school, apply anyway. The admissions officers might find you to be a more remarkable
person than you believe you are. (It has been our experience that some of the most extraordinary people
at Harvard have also been the most modest.)
In terms of numbers, most students pick two to three schools as their strawberry flavor.
The majority of schools are usually of the vanilla variety and number between three and five.
And depending on how competitive they believe their application, they may have a few or many chocolate
schools. On average, most students apply to six to nine schools. Regardless of how your number turns out,
just make sure that you have schools of
each flavor and that they are schools which generally meet your preferences.
By following the Neapolitan Ice Cream
approach, you will be sure that you definitely have a place to go without selling yourself short by
not trying for your first choice schools.
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