The Ivy Coach Daily

May 21, 2024

Can My High School Limit How Many Colleges I Apply To?

Previously Published on March 2, 2020:

Does your child’s high school limit the number of colleges students can apply to? If so, know that your child’s high school is not the only one with a policy restricting the number of colleges students can apply to, particularly since the pandemic when students began applying to more colleges than ever. But it’s also important to understand that a high school’s policy of restricting a student’s number of college applications isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

No high school in America — not even the most prestigious among them — has the right to limit the number of colleges its students can apply to, for imposing such limitations flies in the face of America’s free markets. Colleges, after all, are businesses, and their customers — students — have the right to apply to as many universities as they see fit. The Common Application allows students to apply to up to 20 universities. Students can also submit applications to schools that are not Common Application subscribers, like Georgetown University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

But, Ivy Coach, are you suggesting that if my child’s high school limits the number of colleges students can apply to, there’s a workaround?

High Schools Have No Right to Limit Number of College Applications

You bet there is! We at Ivy Coach have been around for nearly a third of a century. As one can imagine, in that almost third of a century, we’ve encountered some high schools that try to snootily — and boy, are they snooty! — tell students they can only apply to eight or ten schools, maybe even six.

However, with the help of our coaching (since parents and students need to maintain a good relationship with the high school), our students’ parents have pushed back when necessary. And what do our readers think these snooty high schools have done in such scenarios? They’ve allowed our students to apply to all the schools they wish, irrespective of the “policies” in place.

Don’t get us wrong — it’s not as though these high schools make grandiose announcements when our students violate their anti-free market policies. They brush it under the rug in every instance so other students don’t get any funny ideas. Surprise, surprise, right?

One High School Is Proud of Its Policy Limiting College Applications

A few years back, before the pandemic and post-pandemic trend of students applying to more colleges than they could count, Scott Jaschik reported for Inside Higher Ed on a high school that limited the number of colleges students could apply to. As he wrote, “The high school has for more than two decades limited college applications, reviewing each year if the limit should stay in place. The places students want to go are predictable (Ivies and top liberal arts colleges). The school is comfortable with its policy and agreed to talk about it — but only on condition that it not be named, as it doesn’t want controversy.”

But That High School Isn’t So Proud of Its Policy to Risk Going Public

We strongly encourage our readers to read that last line once more. The high school that limits the number of colleges students can apply to agreed to speak to Inside Higher Ed only on the condition that the school not be named “as it doesn’t want controversy.” Controversy.

Because the school knows its policy isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, that any student, if they so wished, could apply to as many colleges as they desired, and that their policy doesn’t pass muster. And we guarantee you that students—for years—have been violating the policy they’re proud of but not proud enough that they’ll associate their name with it. 

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Getting Around Arbitrary College Application Limits

If your child’s high school has a college application limit and you need help navigating it, fill out Ivy Coach’s complimentary consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our go-forward college counseling services.

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