Admission Tips from a Columbia Grad Student: Are you applying to too many schools?

December 19, 2013

I remember that I applied to 14 graduate schools, which is not a so-called crazy number hopefully. However, I do know some of my friends who applied for a bunch of schools, hoping that the chance of getting admitted could be increased to some extent. For example, one of my friends, Arya, she applied for 29 U.S. graduate schools! To me, it was indeed a brave action. Not to mention the expensive application fee, it was very time consuming to tailor the application documents according to different schools’ requirements. In my opinion, it might be more effective using the time for more meaningful and helpful extracurricular activities, internship opportunities or taking more courses. 

According to some statistics conducted by a Chinese education organization, it is estimated that, generally, one will receive 10% - 20% admissions of the total number of applications. Since one can only say yes to one university, it means that 5-10 applications are enough. Accounting for some uncertain factors, 10 - 15 applications might be an optimal number of applications. Judging from this, it appears that the number of my applications was pretty reasonable. As a matter of fact, most of my friends applied to 9 - 17 universities.

Just a reminder for the new applicants, carefully choosing universities that you are interested and diving down to see what they are look for are much meaningful than counting on pure chance by applying to a larger amount of universities with low quality.

Browse Successful Application Files

UMich ‘20

Accepted to UMich, GA Tech, Case, Michigan Tech

I am a hard-working, motivated student, athlete, and performer who enjoys having fun on the side.
UCLA ‘20

Accepted to UCLA, Cornell, CMU, USC, UCSD, UC Davis

UCLA Class of 2020. Orange County native. I like math and music.
Stanford ‘20

Accepted to Stanford, Wheaton, Pomona

I love languages, exercising, and eating!
Stanford ‘20

Accepted to Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA

Born in small town, interested in math, science, and literature. Attending Stanford University starting fall of 2016, planning on studying engineering or computer science, with a minor in a foreign language.

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