Admissions, College Lists

What are Safety, Reach, and Match Schools?

Comments Off on What are Safety, Reach, and Match Schools? 15 December 2017


As you start building your college list, you’ll need to start thinking about schools a little differently. Having a favorite school doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get in.

You may have heard your counselor talk about safety, reach, and match schools, but what do these terms actually mean? More importantly, does your list include enough of each?

Safety Schools

Out of all the college jargon out there, we’re willing to bet “safety school” is one term you’re familiar with. Safeties are colleges that accept the majority of applicants – they’re colleges you’re pretty much positive you’ll get into because your GPA and test scores exceed those of the average incoming freshman class.

A college is considered a safety school if your admissions test scores fall above the 75th percentile for students enrolled at the college.

Safeties get a bad rap. But don’t let the designation fool you – they’re often great schools! Put at least two safety schools on your list, just in case.

Reach Schools

Aiming for Harvard, the University of ChicagoYale, or MIT? You’re dreaming big! Reach schools admit very few students or have requirements you don’t quite meet. That’s not to say you won’t get in – plenty of students receive acceptance letters from their first-choice reach schools. But remember, it’s called a reach college because it’ll be a stretch.

Generally, a college should be considered a reach for you if your admissions test scores fall below the 25th percentile of students enrolled at the college.

Don’t let that stop you from being ambitious! Put two or three reach schools on your list. You never know what might happen. And in the meantime, take our quiz and see what your chances of getting into your dream school are.

Match Schools

Match schools are the Goldilocks of college admissions. They’re not too hard for you to get into, but you’re not guaranteed admission -they’re just right. Your GPA and test scores should match those of the incoming freshman class.

A college is considered a good fit if your admissions test scores fall between the 25th and 75th percentiles of students enrolled at the college. Keep three or four match colleges on your list. That way you have plenty of choices no matter if you’re accepted to every school or just a couple.

Now that you know how you should set up your college list, head over to your profile and start looking for your safety, reach, and match schools. Once you’re ready for the next step, start applying for those schools using the College Greenlight Application!


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