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  • Robb Jenson

Safety, Match and Reach Schools: Dissecting the College Admission Lingo

Typically you may hear counselors or others define a school as a safety, match or reach school, but what exactly do these terms mean? Let AGP be your guide on these terms and explain how they affect your student, and you.

Safety Schools: The Sure Bet

- This school should be one that if all else fails, then your student is more than happy to attend this school. Your student’s academics should compare well to the school metrics and indicate to you and your student will be admitted. Also, this school fits within your family’s financial plans.

Match: A Good Fit

- Match schools are slightly more competitive than safety schools when compared against your student’s academic profile, but are still considered a good fit for the student. Most likely your student’s odds of admissions should fall between 25% (match - low) and 75% (match - high). Schools of this variety may or may not be a fit financially for the family. Merit-based aid is probable and one can increase their chances or receiving by coupling solid test scores with strong extra-curricular activities.

Reach: If You Could Pick Any School:

- These schools are your student’s dream school. Maybe your student has always wanted to live on the west coast, or in a big urban environment and these schools can give them everything on their college wish list and more. Academically, your student’s profile may be more on the fringe of their admission statistics. Increasing their test scores and having a well-rounded application can often increase their odds of admission. Typically, odds for admissions to these schools are less than 25%. Financially, these schools may be out of reach for your family if scholarships or financial aid are not available and may require a lot of deliberation to understand the true financial impact of what attending this institution would mean for you and your student.

Using these terms to analyze your student’s probability of getting into school is a very good way for families to construct a list of colleges to apply to. We also, recommended that when making this list, you and your student have a balance between the three types, giving your family ample options to plan a variety of college scenarios.

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