Why Seniors Shouldn’t “Pad” Their College List

I’m a fan of lean, muscular college lists that reflect a student’s interests academically, socially and demographically. It’s not uncommon for me to ask a student: “Would you truly attend X college if it were the only school where you were accepted?” I ask this question when I notice that a student has added “fat” to their line-up, schools that they’ve no intention of going to. Whether this propensity stems from a fear of not getting in anywhere, peer/parental pressure or receiving an Early Decision deferral or denial, many students begin throwing schools on their list at a rapid-fire pace the closer they near their RD deadlines, i.e. right around now.

Here’s why this padding of a college list doesn’t benefit a student:

It’s Expensive

Each application costs upwards of $40 with most colleges charging closer to $50. Limiting the applications means saving money that could be applied to upcoming college costs like transportation, food, clothing, laundry, among other “away from home” expenses. Carefully considering a school can often result in that school being axed from the list. I’ve spent hours winnowing lists with students and by the end, both of us feels a whole lot lighter!

It’s Confusing

Admissions teams expend serious time, money and energy on EACH student they consider. When they receive an application from a student who has no intention of accepting an offer (if extended one), they’ve wasted not just minutes but hours of courting, touring, interviewing, reading essays, and reviewing portfolios. Engagement with students is a full-time job for an admissions office and trying to determine which applicants sincerely want to attend their college isn’t easy during the RD round. Make it obvious for the readers of your application: show them you want to attend their school and mean it.

It’s Exhausting

Completing applications for more than 12 schools is akin to walking a marathon — not easy. From conception to execution with much drafting and schoolwork in between, the Supplemental Essays require a focus and determination that many seniors struggle to maintain as they journey deeper into their first semester and into winter break. They’re tired and want the process over. A smaller list means less schools means students hit SUBMIT sooner.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

For more information about College Counseling/Essay Coaching, please drop me a line at Elizabeth@eecollegecoach.com or give me a holler at 917-863-2424. Also, for “news you can use,” please check out my blog, videos, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.