The Golden Ratio in College Applications

As the numbers show applications to US universities have skyrocketed the past decade. In 2021 UC Berkeley accepted 112,000 students’ applications when the same number in 2010 was 50,000-less than double. Given the fact that universities released statements that SATs are no longer “required” more and more students take their chances and apply to as many universities as possible. But is this really beneficial or the best for our students? How much is too much when it comes to college applications?

We at CLC follow a strategy in applications according to our students’ unique profiles and we don’t encourage applications to many universities and hope for the best outcome. We at CLC do not invest in luck, we invest in our mentors’ knowledge and our students’ potential.

The truth is, students can apply to too many colleges. Even the Common Application recognizes this and only lets students apply to a maximum of 20 colleges. But when it comes to making smart and strategic application choices, as we at CLC help our students do, even 20 colleges are too many to apply to.

We advise our students to apply somewhere between 10-15 colleges including the 8 California Universities. There are no guarantees when it comes to acceptances but making the best list of Universities according to grades and extracurricular interests/activities is the best plan for choosing wisely and not randomly. The list should be a mix of target, reach (dream), and safety schools, any of which a student would be happy to attend- also means that the student is a fit for the university’s mentality and not just that the university is a dream school and a fit for the student. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree with an excellent GPA requires a relationship between the undergraduate and the university that works best both ways.

When applying to college it’s important to do in-depth research on the schools to which the student is applying. Students should become experts in each college, and it’s hard to learn everything you need to about a school in order to craft a compelling application. Imagine if you’re also applying to 30 other institutions. In short – the higher the number of applications the lower their quality. We at CLC recommend a rational college list in order to be able to do sufficient research and know that a school is a good fit for you and how to properly communicate that in your essays.

And believe us when it comes to essays most colleges have supplemental essays, with additional questions. Since each essay should be tailored to the school (research is key), a lot of time will be spent writing, editing, and revising essays. With 2-3 additional essays per school, this adds up to A LOT of writing if you’re applying to dozens of colleges.

A student’s senior year should be the most academically challenging, and since colleges look for students to improve grades or maintain already high marks, it’s important not to let other things like excessive application essays take away from time that should be spent on schoolwork.

This is where the CLC mentors’ expertise comes in. We do not only help our students with their research and Common App profile but also with drafting essays. Thus, we remove some of the stress from our students, so that they can focus more on their academics. We also help our students build a small, balanced list of colleges that they really want to attend and where they would be a good fit. If we start early the consultation sessions and plan ahead, we can get a majority of your applications done before December of the senior year, leaving you time to enjoy Christmas and your last year at high school. A smart application CLC strategy like this will leave our students with great acceptances come spring, without having to submit dozens of applications. As we at CLC say: “Quality over Quantity.”


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