Safety Schools

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Discus: College Search and Selection: May 2003 Archive: Safety Schools
By Girlinbraids (Girlinbraids) on Wednesday, May 14, 2003 - 07:50 pm: Edit

Hey guys, I've have a list of about 10 colleges I'd love to attend, but most of them are reaches (Yale, Amherst, etc.) and I was wondering if you guys have any suggestions for safety schools. I'm almost positive that I'll go to college in the Northeast but, if you have colleges in other places that you want to recommend, I'd love to hear about them too. Some very basic info about me:

SAT I: 1440
Verbal: 740
Math: 700

Literature: 730
Writing: 710
Biology: 690
(I'm retaking writing and will take either math IC or IIC in June)

I either want to major in Romance Languages or Anthropology, but that could change. I love singing and tennis and will pursue those in college, although only as clubs. So, anyone have any ideas?

I'm thinking that an average SAT score of 1350 would be pretty safe but i'm not sure. Should I aim lower or higher? Thanks for any suggestions!

By Drusba (Drusba) on Wednesday, May 14, 2003 - 08:55 pm: Edit

Though I cannot suggest any particular schools, you should understand that a true safety does not depend on SAT score average. A true safety is a school that admits more than it rejects -- at least above 50% and preferably significantly higher. If that school with a 1350 average has a greater than 50% reject rate then you can still get rejected with your scores as it will likely be a school that relies on essays, activities, recommendations, and just plain subjective belief to make choices.

By Girlinbraids (Girlinbraids) on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 12:35 am: Edit

Whoops. I stand corrected. Thanks Drusba. So guys, anyone have any ideas of safety schools that are still good but reject less than 50% of applicants?

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 01:55 am: Edit

If you are interested in small liberal arts schools Kenyon, St. Olaf and Earlham are very good and would be true safeties for you. Kenyon is typically rated a bit stronger academically than the other two. St. Olaf is a great school for a singer.

Three schools that don't get as much attention as the best-known and most selective northeastern liberal arts schools, yet may offer you just as satisfying an experience are Bryn Mawr, Grinnell and Macalester. If your gpa, class rank and extracurriculars are as solid as your test scores these schools would qualify as "almost-safeties" for you.

By Bigbigboy (Bigbigboy) on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 11:21 am: Edit


By Wobudong (Wobudong) on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 01:42 pm: Edit

Bucknell, Lehigh, Colgate

By Good_Gal (Good_Gal) on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 01:54 pm: Edit

Macalester, Bryn Mawr, Hampshire, University of Southern California
These are more like match schools for you.

Safeties could include some big public universities,

rutgers, drexel university

By Crackcorn (Crackcorn) on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 06:00 pm: Edit

UCSD was one of my safety schools, but after I visited it, I liked it more than my target schools. But don't use it for a safety unless you're a California resident. With your stats you'd probably get into UCLA if you're a California resident.

By Boxergirl (Boxergirl) on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 06:24 pm: Edit

If you register at Princeton Review they take you thru a series of questions about what you are looking for in a school. It's very detailed. You also plug in your SAT scores, your rank in school, activities, etc. and they actually will give you a list of safety schools, reach schools, etc. Check it out.

By Girlinbraids (Girlinbraids) on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 07:56 pm: Edit

Thanks guys for all the ideas. I'll be doing a lot of research tonight. (Ha ha, another reason to procrastinate.=) And, in case anyone is interested, I do live in California so I might make one of the UC's a safety.

By Crackcorn (Crackcorn) on Friday, May 16, 2003 - 01:41 pm: Edit

If you live in California don't forget Cal Poly SLO. With your stats you're virtually certain of being accepted there, and if something goes horribly wrong with all your other applications, you can still be proud to attend the same school where Weird Al Yankovic (new album May 20!) got his degree in Architecture!

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Monday, May 19, 2003 - 09:14 pm: Edit

Beloit in Wisc. has an outstanding anthropology program - if you're looking for a smaller safety where you would probably qualify for some sort of merit.

By Greenmoo04 (Greenmoo04) on Monday, May 19, 2003 - 11:26 pm: Edit

What exactly is a reach? and the difference between that from a goal?

By Morgantruce (Morgantruce) on Tuesday, May 20, 2003 - 10:25 am: Edit

It seems to me that determining which schools are reaches, core and safeties (for YOU) requires a difficult bit of mental judo. First, you have to completely stop thinking about your desires and hopes. Second, you have to think like the adcom at THAT school you are considering. These are two very difficult things to do!

If the adcom would look at your stats, essays, personal characteristics, etc and think, "Not At All Very Likely!"...that is a reach for you.

If they would think, "Probably!"...that is a core group for you.

If they think, "We would die to get this student!"...that is a safety for you.


You, and the application you present, should be very unique... so unique that there is really no way to compare your reaches and safeties with another student.

The safety is the hardest to choose: not only should it be a school that you would be happy to attend (as they would be happy to have you)---it should be a school that you would be so happy to be a part of, that you lose all sense of "reach envy" by September 15th.

For many students, choosing a saftety may be the first time they have to even think about "failing to get something they want." Don't confuse this with "being a failure." Attending four years of Safety University is still going to be a great experience---if you chose wisely. But if you really chose wisely, chances are much greater that you will be attending Core College... or even Reach College if they just happen to need some little hook you have and you just manage to squeeze in.

One of the interesting things about your first day of classes is that you really have no idea of how bad that adcom wanted you---and, for the next four wonderful years, it doesn't matter!

By Manuelo (Manuelo) on Tuesday, May 20, 2003 - 10:44 am: Edit

Your question about safeties is an excellent one, because it is the most important set of schools to develop. I have a couple of ideas for you of schools that are not necessarily safeties, but have strong foreign language departments -- Middlebury (where you would stand a solid chance ED) and Colgate (which may be a safety given your stats and your state of residence). Also, you might want to research Hamilton College (New YOrk state) and Trinity College (Hartford, CT) to see how strong their departments are in the areas that interest you, remembering of course that your interests might change and that the overall "fit" of the college may be a more important factor to consider.
Unless your ECs are truly outstanding, I would say that Yale is a major reach. Also, have you tried the Academic Index on this site to give you an indication of your competitiveness at the ivies. It isn't ironclad, but it is one more indicator. Good luck.

By Morgantruce (Morgantruce) on Tuesday, May 20, 2003 - 10:49 am: Edit

Kenyon College's acceptance rate went from 65% for the class of 2005---down to 50% for the class of 2006. It looks much less like a safety for the class of 2007... and beyond.


Disclosure: my daughter is starting there this coming fall. Although she applied to schools ranked higher, Kenyon was her first choice, and she applied there early decision.

By Girlinbraids (Girlinbraids) on Tuesday, May 20, 2003 - 07:34 pm: Edit

Manuelo- You really think Middlebury would be a good fit ED? It's currently my favorite school but I'd consider it a reach. I don't think I'll be applying ED though, because I want to compare financial aid packages.

And yeah, I know Yale's a far reach. =) Actually, my mom went there, so that counts for something, but even with that leg up I won't be holding my breath for an acceptance letter from them.

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