A student who really takes the time to do a thoughtful college search, one that looks beyond just the famous schools, ends up with three advantages.
1. More control.
A student who applies only to famous (and competitive) colleges, then spends four months nervously crossing her fingers hoping to get in, is letting the colleges control what happens to her. The student whose list is more balanced, with the majority of the schools being those where she has a good chance of admission, has much more control over her college future. Even if you apply to 1-2 dream schools that seem out of your reach, it's a lot less stressful to go through the process when you know that you're virtually guaranteed to have options at the end of it.
2. Better results.
When you do a thoughtful college search, your chances of getting in improve–even at the famous schools. Lots of colleges ask questions on their applications and in interviews about why you're applying to that particular school. You can't give a good answer just by reciting facts you learned on the school's website. You have to tell them more about you, what you expect from your college experience, and why this particular school is one place where you think you could do it. Students who've really considered their college future and investigated a lot of different colleges tend to have the best answers to those questions.
3. A better college future.
Of course, you want to be happy wherever you go to college. And while there are no guarantees with any big decision in life, the more time and thought you give to your college choices, the more likely you will be to end up at one that is the perfect fit for you.