When public relations sophomore Marissa Metzler was applying to colleges, she sent out applications to seven different colleges in hopes that even if she didn’t get into her first choice college, the University of Minnesota, she would still have somewhere to go.
“I was told it was a good thing to apply to more colleges,” Metzler said of her high school visits with guidance counselors.
Metzler’s application experience is not unique. Nationally, colleges are seeing a record-breaking number of applicants.
According to the College Board, despite the fact that five is the recommended number of colleges to which students should apply, some high school juniors and seniors are applying to upwards of 20 different schools.
At the University, the number of applicants has increased steadily from 17,355 in 2003 to 33,910 in 2009, a 95 percent increase, according to University enrollment data.
However, while the number of students accepted to the University has increased about 29 percent to 16,960 in 2009, the number of students who actually enroll has stayed steady at around 5,000.
Stacey Carter , a guidance counselor at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, said in her 14 years as a guidance counselor she has seen a steady increase in the number of colleges to which students apply.
Carter said while their office recommends applying to three to five colleges, “every year we have students that apply to 10 or 15 or 17 schools.”
Twenty-six percent of college freshmen surveyed applied to six or more colleges, according to a national study by the University of California Los Angeles Higher Education Research Institute .
One factor that has contributed to the increase in applications, Carter said, is many colleges and high schools are offering application fee waivers so students may apply to more schools without any additional costs.
Applying to so many colleges can have a negative impact on juniors’ and seniors’ academic progress, Carter said. Since applications require so much work, they can actually cause problems with grades and negatively impact a student’s chances of being accepted to a college.
Metzler said the impression that colleges are becoming more competitive also influenced her decision to apply to lots of colleges.
“I just wanted to make sure I got in somewhere,” she said.