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Understanding Reach, Match, and Safety Schools When Applying for Colleges

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When you start applying for colleges, you’re likely to have a few schools in mind that you’re considering. Ideally, throughout your high school years, you’ve done the research, tried to figure out what programs might be best for you, decided what you’ll likely major in, and you should know what kind of environment you’d like to be in. You’ve also likely looked at local colleges and colleges out of state to see what would be the best fit for what you want most out of your college experience.


However, all these plans for your future must be put on hold until you know whether you’ve been accepted into a particular college. When you’re applying for colleges, you should never put all of your eggs in one basket. Instead, you should plan for any eventuality. It’s always wise to apply for safety, match, and reach schools just in case your dream college doesn’t work out.


That’s where a Charlotte college consultant can help. Here at Clark College Consulting, we can help you determine what schools you should apply to—safety, match, and reach schools—and how to prepare you for when that college decision dates approach.


Safety Schools

The term “safety school” sometimes has a negative connotation and tends to carry a reputation for being a bad school, but that isn’t the case! When you’re applying for colleges, consider a safety school to be any college where you have an 80% chance or higher of being accepted to that college. To determine if a school would be considered a safety school for you, take a look at your chosen school’s average SAT scores, ACT scores, and incoming student GPA, and that should give you an idea of where you fall in those categories. If you aren’t sure how to find that information, speak with your Charlotte college consultant for some assistance!


While you may not feel like you need a safety school, it’s always important to have at least two on your application roster. This is because no matter how incredible you think your college application may be, there’s still a chance that you won’t get into your dream college. You should prepare yourself for that eventuality. 


Think of safety schools as what the name suggests: a safety net. These are schools that have the kind of classes you need for the major you want to pursue, have a campus environment that would be conducive to you being happy there and can give you what you want out of a college experience. However, they may not be your dream school, perhaps because of their location.


Match Schools

A match school is what you would consider to be your “perfect fit.” This is a school that isn’t too easy or too difficult to get into and has everything you could ever want from your college experience. This is also a school where the previous class of incoming freshmen has about the same GPA, SAT scores, ACT scores, and extracurricular activities as you do. In short, a match school is a school to apply to when you embody the typical student of that university.


Because match schools will take up the bulk of your application process, be sure that you’re doing your research to find your perfect fit. Look at the layout of the school, the classes, and the dorms, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! The more information you have, the better decision you can make.  


Because match schools are more difficult to get into than safety schools, you’re going to want to have at least a few on your application roster. These aren’t “guaranteed” spots like a safety school, so you need to be prepared for the fact that you may not get into one of your match schools. To prepare, start building up your high school resume and focus on your GPA and SAT and ACT scores. For a little additional help, speak with a Charlotte College consultant at Clark College Consulting to get more information on how to make the process easier and get the most out of your application!


Reach Schools

Reach schools are the ones that your college application advisor has informed you that you likely won’t get into, and not because you’re a bad student. Reach schools tend to be the schools that have an extremely low acceptance rate and unless you have many exceptional and spectacular talents, are more unlikely to be accepted. Examples of reach schools include Ivy League Universities like Harvard, Yale, and MIT. 


There is no guarantee you’ll be accepted into a reach school, but it’s also not guaranteed you’ll be rejected. It’s a reach school—not an unattainable one! However, to be accepted, you need to ensure that you have an outstanding application and a plethora of extracurricular activities, and a high GPA and SAT and ACT scores. Having a Charlotte college consultant on your side to plan out your application and guide you through the process is pivotal when you’re applying to schools like these. 


When you’re creating your application list, consider only putting one or two reach schools onto your list of potential colleges. In fact, you don’t need to add a reach school at all if the application fee is too high or the deadline is cutting too close. Don’t be afraid to apply to those big-name schools, though. You’ll never know if you would’ve gotten in if you don’t apply! 


Working with Clark College Consulting

Working with a college application advisor is the most surefire way to feel calmer and more confident about the college application process. We understand more than anyone how stressful and overwhelming the college application process can be, and so that’s why we want to offer you all of the help and advice that a Charlotte college consultant can provide before your college decision dates approach. 


Whether you’re hoping to get into a local community college or an Ivy League University, let those of us here at Clark College Consulting assist you. Contact us today for more information! 



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