How many schools is "enough schools" to apply to?

How many schools is "enough schools" to apply to?
Sarah Powers, Dean of Enrollment

Tips for determining the length of your child’s list

Families often ask “how many schools should my child apply to?” That’s a great question. The answer is dependent on a number of factors that are specific to your family and your child’s goals. The Governor’s Academy’s Admission Office always encourages families to look at a few school options—enough to have points of comparison. Even though your child and your family may have a first choice school, we recommend that you see a few more independent schools to affirm this decision!

So, how do you know if your child is applying to enough schools? Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Is your local public school, or current school, an option?
    If your child is not admitted to any of the schools on their current list, would they be happy attending their local public school or current school?  If so, you know they have a great school choice and you can keep their list small.
  2. Will your child apply for financial aid? 
    If so, at many schools your child will be in a more competitive pool, as there are typically more families applying for financial aid than are not. Your child may want to consider applying to more schools.
  3. Is your child’s list diverse enough with “highly competitive” to “less competitive” schools on it? 
    For example, if your child is applying to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton for college, does it make sense to grow their list by adding Stanford and Duke? The admit rates are likely the same, and therefore they may not have grown their chances of being accepted at a school. You may want to consider including some schools on their list with a higher acceptance rate.
  4. Is your child looking at private school specifically to join a certain team or program?  
    First, we highly recommend not enrolling at a school JUST for a team or program. Please encourage your child to think about the “broken leg test” when developing their list of schools.

It’s tough to tell if your child’s list is robust enough, but when in doubt, keep their list broad until they know their options and have the opportunity to visit a school for the second or third time, perhaps for a school’s accepted student day! Also, in some areas of the United States, there are private elementary schools with great ninth grade programs (like Shore Country Day, Pike School, Fenn School and some junior boarding schools near Governor’s) where your child will get excellent skill development and support in the secondary school process.

It’s a great question to consider, and by thinking about the robustness of their list now, they will have the opportunity to make some adjustments in time for the application deadline.


Author: Sarah Powers, Dean of Enrollment

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