There are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, and deciding on the most suitable Schools can be tough. Following high school graduation, many young people choose several different schools to apply for admission.

Choose several options

According to the College Board, students should choose five to eight schools to apply to. This way, if their wanted schools do not accept them, they have other options. The goal of the College Board is expanding access to higher education in the U.S.

According to Paul White, this is a good idea.

He has 38 years of experience working in university admissions. He said things changed a lot compared to the time when he was a student. The number of college students has more than doubled. If he were to apply today, he says he would opt for more than ten schools. He claims it is easier to apply nowadays, but the competition among students is harsh. He says colleges try to attract as many students as possible, both from the US and the world.

He says undergraduate and graduate degree programs have various differences, including the number of students admitted. White works at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland and says that more than 3,000 students applied for Johns Hopkins’ medical doctorate program for the following school year and only 120 of them were accepted.

How are students chosen?

White says he doesn't think students do enough research about the college they're applying for. In his opinion, students think it's enough that they meet the requirements listed as mandatory and don't inquire about the quality of the school and its program. Different schools have different goals, he adds.

Some focus on research more than others. While it is good that students at Johns Hopkins have some research experience, it's not the most important thing. Because of its location, students at Johns Hopkins undergo a training learning how to treat diseases connected to poverty. According to the Maryland Alliance for the Poor report from 2016, about 45 percent of Baltimore’s population lives in poverty.

So students at this school need to show interest in helping the poor and showing compassion. White says volunteer work can show that a student is not only focused on the future career, but also cares about helping the community.

White thinks students should dedicate enough time to researching the school, starting from its website, checking the description of its program and the achievements of its students during and after college.

The importance of interviews

Even if students don't have much previous experience related to the field they want to study, such as volunteering, they have a chance to win the admissions officers over during their interview. This is a chance for students to show how eager they are about studying in that particular school.

They get different questions which show what kind of person they are and if they are willing to do their best. White says that admissions officers at Johns Hopkins recognize the eagerness in applicants and know that, with guidance, those people can become just the type of doctor the school hopes to produce.

Students are very often led by someone else's wishes in their college options but it is very important that they go after what they are passionate about. This will motivate them to study more and give their best because they're interested in that particular field. Studying something that your parents, friends, relatives etc. chose for you can have good career prospects but a counter effect on you since you may end up hating it.

Choose a field with good career options, but which also motivates you and makes you want to know more about it.