Safety, target and reach schools


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As students across the country are narrowing down their list of colleges they will apply to this fall, the terms safety, target, match, and reach are being used. These terms refer to the likelihood of a student being admitted to a particular college. Typically, a student can determine where a college fits in the spectrum by comparing their high school grades and test scores to the academic profile of the institutions. The academic profile of a college or university typically lists the statistics of the previous years’ admissions numbers, such as average grade point average and test scores.

A safety school is one that will most likely accept a student’s application for admission. The student’s high school grades and test scores are well above the school’s averages.

A target or match school is one that will probably accept a student’s application for admission. The student’s high school grades and test scores fall into the middle range when comparing to the institution’s academic profile.

A reach school is a college that a student might have a chance of being accepted, but something in the student’s record is on the low side when comparing to the school’s profile. While a reach school is one a student might have a slight chance of acceptance, a far reach school is one that is very unlikely to offer admission. The student’s academic profile will fall short of the admissions averages when looking at the school’s profile.

Note About Top Colleges and Universities
Many of the top colleges and universities in the United States have very low acceptance rates. For example, Stanford University had the lowest acceptance rate in 2014, accepting only five percent of the students who applied. While many of the students probably met or exceeded the average GPA and test scores of the previous year’s accepted students, many were not admitted. Therefore, top colleges and universities with low acceptance rates should never be considered a safety or target school.

As students are narrowing down their lists, they should place the colleges they are considering into one of these categories. There is no rule that dictates the number of colleges a student should apply to, but most counselors suggest between five and eight colleges. There is also no rule that says students must apply to a specific number of safety, target or reach schools. While a reach school is not required, students should definitely apply to target and safety schools. Reach schools are a dream, and if a student thinks there may be a chance of being admitted, they should apply if they desire.

If students have questions about their chance of being admitted, they should get the opinion of college experts. Guidance counselor and educational consultants should have some insight into the chances of admission. Students can also reach out to admissions offices at the colleges they are considering. The admission counselors at many colleges make the admissions decisions, or at least play a role in the decision process. Students can reach out to admissions offices and ask questions not only about the college, but also about their chances of admission. Some counselor will be more open than others, but most can give some insight into the college admissions process.

The definitions of safety, target and reach schools are typically based on numbers. However, college applicants need to understand that there is no guarantee that a student will be admitted to any school – safety, target or reach. Many colleges and universities use a holistic approach when making admissions decisions. While grade point average and test scores are important, many other items are considered. Admissions committees can use admissions essays, extracurricular and volunteer activities, interviews and many more criteria to determine if they will admit a student or not. This is why it is important for students to apply to multiple colleges to ensure admission to at least one college.

Scholarship Saturday – August 9, 2014

The deadlines for the scholarships that were on this list have passed. To see scholarships that are still accepting applications, visit more recent Scholarship Saturday posts.

Early action, early decision or regular decision?

College admissions applications are opening all over the country. If students have not started their applications yet, they will be starting soon. However, some will have a hard choice to make when it is time to apply. How will they apply? Colleges offer many options including early action, early decision, regular decision and rolling admissions. These terms are very confusing and for some, overwhelming. What do they mean and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Early Decision (ED). For many early decision schools, the application is due in November and the students will receive their decisions in mid-December. Students can only apply to one institution early decision, but can apply to other colleges regular decision. If the student is accepted to the institution early decision, they must withdraw their applications at all other colleges and commit to attending without seeing a financial aid offer. Frequently acceptance rates for early decision are higher than for regular admission. However, if students are not accepted early decision, they are usually still eligible for regular decision.

Early decision is great for students who are 100% sure they want to attend that particular college. While students applying regular decision sometimes have to wait until April to receive an admissions decision, early decision students find out early and do not have to stress about getting in for very long. However, financial aid can be an issue. Most early decision colleges will offer financial aid packages that come close to meeting the student’s financial need (as defined by the FAFSA), but students will not be able to compare financial aid offers from other institutions.

Early Action (EA). Just like early decision, early action allows students to apply to colleges early (usually in November) and admissions decisions will be given typically in December. Early action applications are non-binding and students can apply to multiple colleges. Although students receive notification of their admission decisions early, they have until May 1 to choose the college they will attend.

Restrictive Early Action. Just like regular early action, students will apply to a college early and receive their admissions decision early. Many restrictive early action colleges expect students to not apply to other early decision or early action colleges. However, students are able to apply regular decision at other colleges. Students applying restrictive early action still have until May 1 to decide the college they will attend. This allows students to compare admissions and financial aid offers from all colleges before making the final decision.

For all early admissions applications, students should make sure they take their time with the application. Many students rush their applications to meet the early deadlines and make mistakes. Therefore, if students plan to apply early to any colleges, they should start the application process as early as possible to ensure they submit great applications and essays.

Regular Decision. The application deadline for regular decision is usually later than early action and early decision deadlines. This later date gives students longer to prepare their applications for admission. However, colleges do not offer an expedited admissions decision like early action and early decision. While some colleges give decisions quickly, many do not send regular decisions until mid to late March. Students will then have until May 1 to decide the college they will attend.

Rolling Admission. Colleges that offer rolling admission usually open their applications in the fall and continue accepting applications as space permits throughout the summer. While students can apply whenever they want, there are priority deadlines for financial aid and housing. Therefore, students should still apply to colleges offering rolling admission early to improve their chances of admission, financial aid and housing. Most colleges offering rolling admission typically send out admissions decisions within a few weeks of receiving the completed application.

There are advantages and disadvantages to all ways of applying to college. Before making the decision, students should weigh these factors and choose the option that is best for them. Lastly, students should take their time with the application, no matter how they are applying. The application and personal statements are very important in the decision process. Therefore, students should not rush through the process, but take their time to ensure they make no mistakes.

13 college essentials often forgotten

New and returning college students will be moving in to residence halls over the next few weeks. Most colleges will provide a checklist of items students need to bring, such as bedding, a shower tote and personal items to cheer-up the space. However, some items might not be listed that no one will want to forget.

Mattress topper. The mattresses provided by dorms are usually not comfortable. They are typically covered in plastic and have many springs. College students need their sleep, so adding a nice mattress topper will make it a little more comfortable.

Earplugs. Most residence halls, even after quiet hours, are louder than most homes. Earplugs will help students that are light sleepers sleep through the night or take a nap during the day.

Power strip. Depending on the college and age of the residence hall, there may not be many electrical outlets. Power strips will let students plug in all of their necessary electronics.

Extension cords. Power outlets are not always in the most convenience places. Extension cords will get students power where they need it.

Water filtration pitcher. Buying water bottles is going to get very expensive. A water pitcher, like Brita or PUR, is a great alternative. Students will save a lot of money and help the environment.

Reusable water bottles. Students will need a place to put the water from their water pitchers. In addition, the reusable water bottles are portable and able to go with students to class, the gym and anywhere else they go throughout the day.

First aid kit. A first aid kit is a great to have around when a minor cut or scrape happens away from home. The first aid kit should be stocked with gauze, tape, bandages and medication such as pain relievers, antiseptic spray and ointment. Many stores have pre-made first aid kits available, or students can create their own.

Tool kit. Everyone needs a screwdriver or wrench at some time or another. Simple tool kits can be purchased at most stores and take up only a small space.

Sewing kit. At one point, a button is going to fall off during college. Instead of throwing the shirt out, or wearing it with a missing button, sew it back on within minutes.

Shower shoes. Dorm showers are a breeding ground for fungus and bacteria, no matter how often they are cleaned. Shower shoes or simple flip-flops are a great way to protect your feet while showering.

Command strips and hooks. Housing offices are very clear about damages in the residence halls. Students are not supposed to put holes in the walls. However, students need to make their room more interesting with pictures and posters. Command strips are great because most things can be hung on the wall and removed without damage.

Social security card. If students want to get a job, they will need to provide their future employer with their social security card. Without the social security card, employment will be delayed until the card arrives.

Health Insurance Information. Sickness is bound to happen sometime during college. Having health insurance information available when visiting the doctor will save money.

Many dorm room checklists provided by teen magazines will tell students it is important to make their rooms homey and comfortable. Some lists include bringing extra furniture. While it is important to make the dorm room comfortable, most dorms rooms are not very big and do not have room for extra furniture. In addition, most colleges do not allow students to remove dorm furniture from the room. Therefore, before making any purchases of non-essential items, make sure the room has the space.

Lastly, before purchasing or bringing anything big, check with roommates. While many colleges allow mini-refrigerators and microwaves, no dorm room needs multiple of these items. Communicate with roommates to ensure dorm rooms will not be too crowded with stuff.

Scholarship Saturday – August 2, 2014

The deadlines for the scholarships that were on this list have passed. To see scholarships that are still accepting applications, visit more recent Scholarship Saturday posts.