What qualifies (in your opinion) as a safety? match? reach?

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Discus: College Search and Selection: March 2004 Archive: What qualifies (in your opinion) as a safety? match? reach?
By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 01:09 pm: Edit

What estimated percentage of acceptance qualifies the designation of safety, match, and reach?

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 01:15 pm: Edit

It depends in part on the type of school, the caliber of the student, and the part of the country from which the student comes. I'll take a stab at it: A safety in my book is a school that admits at least 50 percent of the students who apply and where your boards are in the top 25 percent, assuming you do a nice job on the application and preferably go for an interview. A match, if you are coming from a competitive major metro area, is a school where your boards are in the middle range and you are looking good in terms of GPA and ECs. A reach for all students is any Ivy, Stanford, MIT, top 3 LACs, etc., although it helps a bit if you are top 25 percent, have great boards, academics, and ECs, and apply ED.

By Anxious_Mom (Anxious_Mom) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 01:22 pm: Edit

a safety, match and reach is very personal and depends on the individual's stats

A college that may be a safety for one student, may be a reach for another....

If one looks at the 25-75% SAT scores and average GPA of a college, and compares one's stats, then one can see if a school will be a safety, match or reach. If your stats are way over the 75% mark, the college could be a safety. If your stats are around the 75% mark, it would be a match. If on the low end on the comparison, it would be a reach. Other factors do play a part, so this is not a 100% method. Some schools accept everyone who's stats meet the minimum, so that would be a safety for all. And, some universitites are so competitive, and so many students with perfect stats apply (ie Iveys, MIT, etc.) that those universities would rarely be considered a safety for anyone.

There is something called counselor-o-matic on a different website that can help one get an idea of their safety, etc. CC does not like other web-sites posted, so contact me directly, and I will email it to you off-line, if you cannot locate it.

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 01:31 pm: Edit

I mean estimated personal percentage, judging from your personal stats, EC's, etc.

Yes, I have tried the automatic counselor thingy on the competing website, but I am doubtful of its accuracy from what I've heard. Thanks for your consideration.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 01:46 pm: Edit

Here's my definition:
A safety is a school at which you are almost certain to be admitted: your GPA, SATs and class rank place you at the top 25% or higher of admitted students, or you are a recruited athlete or recruited talent in another area, or you are a legacy. A safety is also a school where financial issues won't be a problem (either because you can afford it or expect to receive good financial aid or merit money).

A match is a school is one where you have a 50% or better chance of acceptance - your stats fall within the middle to top of accepted candidates, or perhaps a bit lower but you have something unique that the school is looking for (i.e., recruited athlete, special talent, geographic diversity, URM status.) A match is also a school where financial issues have a good chance of being acceptable to you and your family - the school offers decent financial aid or is priced within your price range.

A reach is a school where acceptance is possible but not at all certain. You may fall in the bottom 25% of median accepted student Stats, OR you may have stats which place you in the top half of accepted students but the school accepts less than 30% of all applicants and receives LARGE numbers of qualified applicants to choose from. (In other words, places like Harvard, Yale, etc. are reaches for everyone - even those with stellar stats). Reaches also include any school where you will need large amounts of financial assistance to attend or are counting on a competitive merit award to be able to attend. You might very well get into a school but if you can't afford to attend without assistance, then it is still going to be a reach - a financial reach.

Be careful about computerized systems like counselor-matic - they are fine for giving you a list of schools but it's best to follow up with your own in-depth research because these sorts of systems are not updated frequently. Many school post their "freshman profile" for the previous year on their web site and that can give you a good start. Information is also available from numerous guides, etc. or even from contacting admissions directly.

I also believe that it's best to start from the bottom - look for your safeties first , then your matches. If you're going to use your state U. as a safety, it's a good idea to also pick out at least one other safety where you might get enough financial aid to attend at a comparable price. After that, it is fine to concentrate on picking out several reaches.

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 02:42 pm: Edit

Thanks for the comprehensive definition, Carolyn!

By Noodleman (Noodleman) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 08:22 pm: Edit

I wanna know where Carolyn went to school, cause that musta been one kick-arse institution! Sheeza smartie!

By Drusba (Drusba) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 09:51 pm: Edit

I have a slightly different twist on the true safety. It is (a) one of the schools you would want to go to if accepted, (b) a place that is not overly expensive in the event you do not get a lot of financial aid, (c) one where acceptance rate is fairly high and you are in the 50% or above range, and, most important (d) has rolling admissions so you can apply early and know whether you are admitted before mid December of your high school senior year. That last point relieves a huge amount of stress as you will know you are assured a school while applying to others that don't tell you till April.

By Welshie (Welshie) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 10:04 pm: Edit

Safety- when you get in, you aren't surprised and if you're denied you are utterly stunned.

Match- when you get in, you're excited but still not too surprised; when your denied you're denied you're down but not too surprised.

Reach- when you get in, you are absolutely stunned; when you are denied you aren't too dejected because you were already expecting it.

By Ariesathena (Ariesathena) on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 12:27 pm: Edit

Safety: a school which you would want to attend, which will meet your financial needs, and which you are virtually guaranteed acceptance. The last part varies so much with each student that I won't quantify it based on the school's stats (legacies, development cases could make a difference; also, the uber-achievers with Intel awards and national recognition would be in this category for some excellent schools), but rather on the individual student. Also... you should be able to demonstrate some interest in the school, whether through a particular programme (I'm thinking SoozieVT's daugther with architechture and ski racing) or merit awards. I know a young woman who was rejected from her safety, BU, because they believed she was too qualified and would not go there. Her counselor called up BU and asked what happened, and was told that they did not want to accept someone who was so over-qualified. They did say (and this is where they are human!) that if she genuinely did not have anywhere else to go, then they would accept her.

Match: roughly a 50/50 chance of getting in. The 50/50 is based on having solid leadership/extracurriculars/interests outside of school in addition to having a numerically 50/50 shot at the school. Some schools give percentages of admits by class rank and SAT score - this is a good place to look for the 50/50. I would not say that someone who is in the middle 50% of an SAT range at a school could call it a match - the bottom portion of that range is often international students, people who don't speak English as a first language, maybe special cases like athletic recruits or legacies. If you aren't in one of those different categories, then the SAT range isn't really applicable.

Reach: less than a 1/3 numerical chance of getting in OR any school with a really high applicant to incoming student ratio. Schools like Harvard have some 20 applicants for every seat (and a 75% ish yield) - they are reaches for almost anyone.

By Kluge (Kluge) on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 05:19 pm: Edit

Just a tip on investigating schools: If you go to the school's website and find the search engine, type in "common data set" and you will usually be taken to a file which includes the 25 - 75 percentile SAT scores and gpa average for the previous year's freshman class. It's a good start on pegging a school as a safety, match or reach, using Carolyn's standards.

The common data set also includes percentage of students returning after their freshman year, and the 4 year and/or 6 year graduation rate, which is helpful information in general.

By Ariesathena (Ariesathena) on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 05:48 pm: Edit

One problem with Kluge's method is that it does not include students who were admitted but did not matriculate. My alma mater has about a 35% yield - the average SAT of admitted students is a 1450, while the median for the enrolled students is roughly 100 points lower. When you are evaluating reach/match/safety, you should base it on students who are accepted - as that is really the important criterion.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - 11:45 am: Edit

A good source for stats of ALL admitted students is the US News & World Report Ultimate College Directory. It's a big expensive book but lists admitted students stats in detail for every college in the U.S. Many large bookstores have it, though, so you can go in and do a scan of the schools on your list.

By Gatesbill (Gatesbill) on Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - 02:33 pm: Edit



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