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

USC ‘19

Accepted to USC, UMich, Northwestern, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Swarthmore, CMU, NYU, Vassar, Reed, Kenyon, UC Davis, Syracuse, CU, Fordham, Santa Clara, CSU Chico, CSUF, UC Riverside , UCSB, UCSC, Bard

Theater/business double major from classic and online highschool background. Here to help navigate audition and business interview processes! On full tuition scholarship
Yale ‘20

Accepted to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, JHU, Duke, Brown, Dartmouth, WashU, USF, Florida, UCF

My name is Elizabeth, and I am from a small town in Florida. I graduated from Land O' Lakes High School, and am now a student at Yale University. My intended major is Biomedical Engineering with a Molecular Engineering focus, and I am a pre-med student.
Notre Dame ‘20

Accepted to BU, Emory, Swarthmore, Notre Dame

Hello! I'm an international student from Ethiopia and I'll be majoring in Biology. I'd love to share all the tips and tricks I've learned from my rather unique college application experience with you!
Vanderbilt ‘20

Accepted to Florida, Vanderbilt, Duke, Emory, UPenn, Miami, Northeastern, UVA, UNC, Georgetown, Rice

Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholar at Vanderbilt and art enthusiast

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