Applying to multiple schools can hinder college admissions process

If you're in your senior year of high school, you may be thinking, "What can help me find a college?" One possible way of narrowing down a list of schools is to use a college search engine. Although college search engines can be a great way to find the college for you, what if you find several colleges that you want to apply to?

Your college admissions adviser may suggest applying to multiple schools to improve your chances of securing a place at a university. However, according to the results of a new study, over-applying can sometimes hinder the college admissions process.

The report, published by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), indicates that a quarter of college freshmen applying to universities in the fall of 2010 filled out seven or more college applications. Approximately 77 percent of students applied to at least three schools.

Some college admissions officials believe that the increasing number of students applying to multiple schools is a result of a lack of guidance.

"For a lot of first-generation kids, it can be really confusing," said Deb Stieffel, vice president for enrollment management at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, as quoted by the Chicago Tribune. "They don't have parents [with college experience] to guide them, and the counselor-to-student ratio might be 400-to-1. A lot of students end up getting lost in the mix." Approximately 4 percent of applicants to Susquehanna applied to at least 15 schools, according to Stieffel.

Despite increasing numbers of students filling out multiple college applications, the number of freshmen who accept admissions offers and attend college throughout the country has fallen. This figure, known as the yield rate, dropped by several percentage points over the past few years. According to the NACAC report, the yield rate in 2007 was 45 percent. Still, last year, the number of students who were accepted into degree programs also dropped to 41 percent. Increasing numbers of applicants are making it difficult for some schools to accurately predict which students will accept their offers, which can, in turn, affect how many students are admitted.

Despite potential delays in hearing back from your preferred colleges, you shouldn't be discouraged from submitting multiple college applications. However, when applying to your dream school, you should make an extra effort to demonstrate interest to the college admissions advisers to give you the best chance of being accepted.

Even if they aren't a mandatory part of the application process, doing things like requesting an interview with an admissions official and staying overnight at the school can show that you're serious about attending. The report states that this kind of activity, known as demonstrated interest, has grown substantially in recent years as competition for places, as well as the number of applications, has increased. 

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