Should I Even Apply to “Huge Reach” Schools?

hand reach

Flickr user Steve Snodgrass

Should you apply to a huge reach school? The answer to this question put simply, is “Yes!” It’s always good to have at least one school to strive to challenge yourself. You never know, you might surprise yourself in the quality of work you produce for the application. And because of the higher demands of that school’s application process, you can improve the quality of your other applications. You might assess your skills and experience more critically, leading to a better understanding of yourself as a student as well as a better understanding of what you want from a school.

What is a reach school?

A reach school is a college or university where you fall on the lower end of the academic spectrum of admitted students. This makes it relative to each individual, so your idea of a reach school and your friend’s could very well be different. An example would be that you have a 2.8 GPA while your friend has a 3.3. A school where the middle 50% of accepted students have a 3.25 GPA would be a reach school for you, but not for your friend. Standardized test scores also help to inform whether a school is reach or not.

Have match schools too.

It is important to balance which schools you apply to by having a list of match schools, schools you would be likely to get into, and reach schools. But when choosing which reach schools to apply for, make sure there is something about the school that you are interested in. Does that college have an excellent engineering program that you want to be a part of? Is their Department of Education going to help you be the best teacher you can be? Applying to a school with a big name just to be able to say you got accepted is a waste of an application fee. Choose your reach schools with intention, just like the other schools on your list. You are more likely to get accepted to any school when you show genuine interest in your application.

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