I have the grades and test scores to be a competitive applicant at any school, but I'm wondering how many reach schools I should have on my list. Should I apply to a wide range of elite colleges to increase my chances of getting into one of them, or should I narrow it down to just a couple?
It depends on your application budget, the number of schools that genuinely interest you, and the amount of time you want to spend applying. As long as you have one or two safety schools and one or two target schools, you can apply to any number of reach schools. If you have the resources to apply to a lot of colleges, you may be tempted to go crazy, but think critically about whether it's worth your time. You should only apply to schools that you'd be happy to attend. Colleges will pick up on whether you're enthusiastic about them specifically, and that's much harder to convey when you're applying to fifteen schools as opposed to five. A reasonable number of reach schools is in the 3-5 range for most students.