How Many Safety, Match, and Reach Colleges Should You Apply to?

A college will either be a safety, match, and reach college, depending on your academic profile.

Flickr user bwright923

As you research different colleges that offer what you are looking for, you will find that almost every college fits into one of these three categories:

  • Reach – these are colleges that offer exactly what you are looking for. But, they may be a little difficult to get into, with a 15% to 40% chance of admission.
  • Match – colleges that offer some but not all of what you are looking for would fit into this category. You have a high chance of getting into a match college – 40% to 60%. But, it does mean having to compromise on those factors that are missing.
  • Safety – this category includes all colleges to which your admission is almost guaranteed because your academic qualifications exceed the school’s requirements. You have a 90 % + chance of getting admission into a safety college.

Naturally, your first instinct would be to apply to all the reach colleges on your list. After all, they have everything you are looking for. However, with the lower acceptance rate, applying only to reach colleges is very risky.

Experts strongly advise against applying exclusively to reach colleges. Instead, they recommend choosing a few colleges from each category. If you have 10 colleges on your list, the recommended mix would be 2 reach, 5 match, and 3 safety colleges.

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