Coming up with a list of colleges can take longer than you expect. Many students end up with more colleges than they intended to because they received suggestions from not only teachers and counselors, but also parents, friends, and sometimes even others’ parents (especially in Asia :P). Though you can choose to not apply to reach/dream schools, one thing you must have is safety school, schools you’re almost guaranteed admissions. In this post, we will tell you how to find these schools and help you make that decision.
Look at GPA and SAT/ACT of Admitted Students
First things first, you’re not looking at the average test score, but rather the 75th percentile. Most of theses statistics can be found online so be sure to do your research. Generally speaking, if your GPA is 0.2-0.3 higher than the 75th percentile and your SAT score is 50 points higher, the school can be considered a safety school. Niche.com has admissions data for most colleges in the U.S. and some applicants statistics from previous years, so be sure to visit the website to have a better understanding of your chance for each school.
How Many (Safety) Schools?
Although there’s no limit as to how many schools you can apply to, it’s certainly not smart to have 30 schools on your college list. The easy way to keep track is the one-third rule: 1/3 safety schools, 1/3 match or target schools, and 1/3 reach or dream schools. Match or target schools are those whose admitted students have about the same stats as yours, usually between 25th percentile and 75th percentile. On the other hand, reach or dream schools are those that are more likely to reject you that accept you. We recommend most of our students to apply to 6 to 12 schools, approximately 2 to 4 each so that you can have enough time to prepare for all schools.
For some schools, they even offer automatic admissions as long as an applicant meets the minimum GPA/SAT/ACT requirement or other criteria. These schools are not bad and some even have highly ranked programs. However, finding schools with both automatic admissions and programs that align with your interests can be time-consuming, so be sure to consult your counselors if you need further assistance. Usually, state schools are more likely to grant automatic admissions than private schools, so that’s one way to begin you research.
The bottom line is, you must love your safety school choices and don’t apply just because it’s easy to get in. There is a chance that you don’t get into any of your match/dream schools, so make sure you’re willing to attend every school on your college list. Remember—there are no “bad” schools. Follow our advice and compile your list with 2 to 4 schools in safety, match, and reach, so you don’t end up with too many apps to fill out.