Tag archive for "admissions"

Admissions, College Lists

What are Safety, Reach, and Match Schools?

No Comments 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!


Admissions, Guest Post

Guest Post: Things You Don’t Think Are Important, But Actually Are

No Comments 13 December 2017

You’re a resourceful individual. It’s one of the reasons you’re using us, here at College Greenlight. As any intelligent individual knows, though, getting information from one source, and one source alone, feels unfinished. You want corroboration. So, to add some extra value to what we do here, we’ve reached out to Tufts University and asked Sean Ashburn, an Admissions Counselor, to give some advice — advice worth way more than two cents! If you’re interested in Tufts University, check out the website here, but don’t forget to to read Sean’s tips for applying to college!


Things You Don’t Think Are Important, But Actually Are

If you are a current high school senior, it’s likely that you’re familiar with the basic requirements of the college application process, including your transcript, standardized testing, essays, and letters of recommendation. It might seem like these components are all that matters, but there are other pieces of the application that play an important role in your success at navigating this long and complex process. Here are a handful of elements that you should try not to underestimate, both before and after you submit your applications.

Senior Year Grades

It is tempting to believe that the academic data that comes with your application is basically locked in before your final year of high school even begins, giving you the chance to relax a bit once 12th grade kicks off. However, despite what you’ve heard, college admissions officers pay very close attention to students’ academic performance in their senior year courses. Often senior year is when you are enrolled in the most challenging courses you have had the opportunity to take thus far (AP Calculus, anyone?) and your continued success in these rigorous courses helps provide evidence of your potential to thrive in a college-level curriculum.

In cases when hard-working, compelling applicants have a serious dip in performance once their first quarter/trimester/semester grades land in their application files, this can cast an unfortunate shadow over the admissions committee’s discussion. Furthermore, a noticeably impressive start to senior year can add some useful academic heat to your file, reassuring the admissions committee of your preparation for the rigor of college. This information should not add an extra layer of stress to what we know can be an overwhelming time for so many students, but should remind you that maintaining steady performance in the classroom is worth prioritizing, even when you have a dozen unwritten supplemental essays looming over your head.

Good College Research

Maybe this is obvious, but it is worth emphasizing how important it is for students to have strong reasons for applying to each of the schools on their list. Basically, this means you’ve done your homework well enough to be able to articulate in just 2-3 sentences why each college has caught your attention and is worthy of your application. Why? Because colleges are going to ask you to do this! The admissions or alumni interview and the common “Why X University?” essay question are two opportunities where your interest in and knowledge of a particular college should shine through…and you need to have done some good research to make this happen.

It’s certainly a cause for concern for an admissions officer when an essay or interview report reveals that an applicant is interested in an academic program or opportunity that is not actually offered on their campus, but it can be equally unsatisfying when a student gives the impression that they just doesn’t know much about the college’s community at all. Push yourself to dive deeper with your online research – beyond schools’ locations and majors – and practice (out loud, even) answering the question, “why are you applying to (blank) University/College?” At some point, someone is going to ask.

Your Application Status Page

Of all the emails or letters you will receive from an admissions office, the most important has to be the one with the login information to activate your application status page, also commonly referred to as your admissions portal. The majority of colleges provide their own online platform and, once you have logged in, you have access to a world of information available to make your life easier!

This page can often include your checklist of application materials to see what a school has and has not received in your file, a list of the standardized test scores you sent, the option to request an interview, and a spot where your admissions decision is eventually posted. Equally important is the checklist of financial aid materials, where new required documents (like copies of your family’s income tax returns) can be added on an ongoing basis as the financial aid office reviews your aid materials. Regularly checking the application status page saves you from needing to contact colleges to verify that they received your application materials and it keeps you from missing important deadlines.

Between class assignments, out-of-school commitments, family responsibilities, and college applications, college admissions offices know you’re balancing a lot. For that reason, it’s worth a reminder that there are likely so many pieces of this process that you think are important, but are not (a typo in a college essay, for example). Recognizing the importance of the three points mentioned above will save you anxiety and frustration in the long run and make you feel more in control of your own admissions process.  


Why Every First Generation Student Needs a Mentor

No Comments 17 July 2017

Beginning your college journey is tough, especially if you will be a first-generation college student. Finding a mentor will ease the process for you.

A mentor will push you. Getting into the college of your dreams is no easy task. But since your parents will not be able to give you advice based on experience, you might not realize the challenges ahead. Find a mentor who is a college graduate, and he or she will be able to push you in the right direction.

A mentor can act as an editor. Throughout the college application process, you will be writing essays. Having someone who has been through this process read over your essays will give you an advantage. A mentor will know what colleges are looking for in a college application essays and what scholarship committees want to see written in a scholarship application essay. Your mentor also can take a look at your College Greenlight college list and scholarship list and make suggestions to add.

A mentor can answer questions. Planning a college visit or figuring out financial aid on your own can be scary. You can ask your mentor for help instead of struggling with things like this on your own.

A mentor will offer support. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the stress of the college application process, your mentor will be there for you. He or she has been through a similar experience and can offer you guidance. You can continue to rely on them throughout college.

Your mentor can be anyone who you respect – a teacher, a coach or even a recent graduate.

Admissions, Choosing A School

Make the Most of Summer

No Comments 30 May 2017

Think of your summer break as extra time to prepare for college. Follow these steps to make sure you’re optimizing the next few months.


Find an organization you are passionate and look at volunteer opportunities. A positive volunteer experience can be a great topic for a scholarship or college essay. Colleges will be impressed to see that you spent the summer volunteering since it shows that you are a well-rounded individual.

Choose Colleges

Take some time to evaluate the kind of college you want to attend. Think of every aspect of a potential college – size, location, majors offered — and add them to your college list. Make sure you have a decent mix of safety, reach and match schools. When you’re ready to apply to colleges, you can consult this list.

Find a Summer Job

Every little bit helps for college, so start saving now. In addition to having extra money for college, this shows schools that you are a hard worker. Plus, jobs can be great leads for college scholarships.

Take Classes

Sure, summer school might seem like the least desirable thing right now, but taking a class or two this summer could pay off in the long run. Look into general education classes at your local community college. Your future college likely will accept these courses, which means that you will not have to take them in college. This will give you time to take more classes in college that interest you or graduate early and save money. Before you enroll in a class, talk to your future college and make sure they will accept these credits.


You’ve worked hard this school year. Between working and preparing for college, find some time to unwind this summer. Go to the pool, hang out with friends and catch up on Netflix. You’ll be more prepared to take on the upcoming school year if you feel refreshed.

Admissions, Fly-In Focus

College Greenlight Hosts Fly-in Program Webinar

No Comments 19 May 2017

Visiting a college campus doesn’t have to be a challenge — even if a campus is across the county. Many colleges offer fly-in programs, where students are flown in for a campus tour.

College Greenlight keeps an updated list of fly-in programs all over the country. More than 70 colleges, including many of the nation’s top schools, offer these programs.

College Greenlight hosted a webinar about fly-in programs, talking with admissions officers from Williams College, Bowdoin College and Swarthmore College. Listen for tips on how to access these programs.

Fly-in facts:

  • Colleges pay for students to come to campus
  • Students stay on campus in dorms and experience what college life is like
  • Fly-in programs aren’t limited to planes. Students also can be brought to campus via buses or trains.

Join us!

Create a free profile and...
  • Discover more than $11 billion in scholarships and merit aid
  • Get your college matches and see which colleges want you
  • Instantly see your admissions chances for getting into the college of your dreams
Create My Profile Now