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How Many Colleges Should I Apply To?

Ian Brook Fisher

Written by Ian Brook Fisheron July 22nd, 2021

I began my career in admissions by walking backwards as a student intern, giving guided tours, interviewing students, and reading applications for my alma mater, Reed College. After graduating, I began full-time work in admissions, reading thousands of applications primarily from the Western United States, especially Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. (I got to eat the best food on my travel!) In my last three years at Reed, I directed admissions for the entire continent of Asia and served as the director of marketing and communications for the admission office, honing our official voice for web, print, and social media. This helped me to develop a sharp eye for what works (and what doesn’t) in college essays. While Reed is not known (at all!) for sports, I was able to find my competitive outlet with the ultimate Frisbee team as a player and, when I graduated, a coach. After nine wonderful years at Reed, I left Portland to pursue a M.A. at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. When I graduated and joined College Coach, I was living in Palo Alto, California, an experience that helped me learn so much about the UC and CSU system and high school programs all around the Bay Area. In the end, I missed the rain too much, and moved back to Portland in the summer of 2016.
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Summer is here and, for rising high school seniors, that means getting serious about the college list. The college application season heats up immediately upon the return to school in the fall, so summer is a great time to take that list of schools you’re vaguely interested in and narrow that group down to a focused list you actually intend to apply to. “How many colleges should be on that final list?” you ask. Five? Ten? Twenty? Former Reed College admissions officer, Ian Fisher, lets us know in the latest installment of the College Coach video series, Ask the College Admissions Expert. Ian answers the question, “How many colleges should I apply to? And don’t forget to subscribe to the College Coach YouTube Channel to keep up-to-date on all the latest college planning tips from our college admissions and finance experts. College Application Prep 101

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