This isn’t a throw enough spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks approach. The best decision is an informed one.
What will it cost?
Every school has an application fee so the more schools you apply to, the more you’ll spend, although there are ways to have those fees reduced or waived. General industry advice is to apply to an average of three to eight graduate schools.
What are the requirements?
Grad school applications have many requirements such as personal statements, essays, recommendations, standardized test scores and more. Weigh the amount of time each application will take to complete with how much time you have to invest in the process. This will help determine how many schools to apply to.
Choose quality over quantity
Do your research and apply to schools that check all your boxes, rather than schools you just think might accept you. You may find that one of your dream schools is within reach or you may find a school you hadn’t considered before may be a possibility. It also allows you to eliminate certain programs because they aren’t the right fit.
What are your parameters?
The specific graduate degree you’re pursuing may also determine how many schools you apply to. If you’re looking for a master’s in Fire Science, your options will be fairly limited. However, if you’re going for your MBA, you’ll have to look at some specific parameters to narrow down your search.
Have back up schools
While you want to make a top three list of your favorite schools, there are many factors that schools use when determining acceptances, so it’s smart to have a couple back up schools as well.
Keep an open mind
Don’t just apply to big name schools or go by rankings. There are plenty of lesser-known schools that are great but don’t get as much press. Go to each school’s website, research it fully, talk to a program advisor, or if you want to study on campus, go to the school and take a tour. Campus visits are also a good way to receive an application fee waiver, depending on the school.