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Consider applying to colleges in all three categories


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Many students dream of attending prestigious Ivy League schools believing that these colleges offer the finest education money can buy and a near guarantee of a lucrative job. However, the standards expected of prospective applicants are very high, and competition for available spots is fierce. While it is admirable to set your sights high, it is chancy to pin all your hopes on gaining admission to one of these selective universities. As part of the college application process you should consider applying to one or more "safety" schools; but what does this mean, and what should you look for?

Stay focused
A common mistake made by students preparing for college is applying to an excessive number of schools. This is not only a costly decision, as college application fees soon add up, but it also reduces the time the student can devote to each application. Rather than send out dozens of applications indiscriminately, college-bound individuals should focus on six to eight schools, including safeties.

A safety school is a college at which your academic credentials and GPA exceed the expected requirements of incoming freshmen. By applying to safety schools, you can be reasonably confident that your application will be accepted.

Keep your options open
While you want to keep your applications to a reasonable number, don't limit yourself to just safety schools. You could also consider "match" and "reach" schools, as well.

Match schools are colleges where your transcript closely matches the school's admissions criteria. However, as these requirements can change from one year to the next, be sure to check what each school expects before filling out an application to ensure your credentials align with what the school wants from incoming freshmen that year.

A reach school, on the other hand, is a college that expects just a little more from prospective applicants than you have achieved. For example, your GPA could be one or two points off what the school expects. Although the likelihood of being accepted to a reach school is much lower than that of a safety, it's not impossible. Before submitting an application to a reach school, be honest with yourself about your chances of success. After all, if your GPA is less than stellar, there's little point applying to an Ivy League college, and doing so will almost inevitably result in disappointment.

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Consider applying to colleges in all three categories
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