Rachel Minkowsky commented

It may seem tempting to apply to many Reach schools, but the "Hail Mary" approach to applications may set you up for disappointment. Instead, I suggest that Target schools make up the bulk of your list. Work with your SpanOne Advisor to develop a list of schools that match your needs and your grades/test scores. If your school uses Naviance, investigate the college search option first. Prioritize what's most important to you; you do not need to search every field. To determine the likelihood of admission, investigate the Scattergram option. Those charts will help you figure out the mean GPA/test score from classmates that have been accepted into a specific institution from your high school. College Board's "Big Future" college search provides similar information but on a national scale. Also, keep in mind that your Target and Safer schools may be more willing to offer a financial aid package that makes it more feasible to attend.

2 Answers

Jon Semcer Points3610
Reach schools should not dominate your list. They should be schools that you have a deep interest in ( dream schools). However, having a list of say 10 -12 schools and you have 5 -7 Reach schools could be very disappointing come next spring. One way to avoid this is to commit  yourself to applying to 2  - 3 Reach schools in a list of 12. Use the following factors to determine if you should apply : Middle 50% range of SAT scores of admitted students, mean grade point average of admitted students and the class rank percentile of admitted students. You can find this data from the college"s profile. Target schools are campuses where you meet the  basic  SAT/ACT, GPA and RIC factors.. For a list of  10 - 12 schools Target colleges should take up 5 -6 spots on that list. Remember, nothing " is a sure thing in college admissions", but with the right plan and research your  Target schools should be right on the mark. For all campuses on your list they should be schools that " fit " you -- socially, geography and location.

Good luck in the coming months with your application process.

I have found both students and parents wondering how to make the distinction between each category leaving me to conclude that this one issue, is often the largest obstacle when facing down the colleges search process.

I have met with student after student assuring them that, the completion of the application is actually easy. The essay is time consuming but also, not very difficult. I have heard fears expressed that the entire search and application process is just too overwhelming. My suggestion is to keep the application and essay to one side. For a junior,their job is to make "the list" because "the list" is what the overwhelming part is. How do I find schools to apply to? How do I know if I would be a good candidate? How do I select target schools? There are over 3,500 institutions of higher education across the country. Asking a person that is struggling with soccer practice, a social life and their academics all while trying to design a college list is honestly, asking a lot. Students need to work with both parents and guidance counselors (as well as their independent counselors!) when searching out those schools best suited for them.

To begin, sign onto www.collegeview.com (if your HS uses Naviance, it is listed in Naviance if not, use link for direction). This free service will ask questions about likes, dislikes, size of school one is looking for, environment preferred, activities, etc. These questions require great thought, adding to that feeling of being overwhelmed. Keep in mind during this process that STUDENTS CAN ALWAYS CHANGE THEIR MIND- nothing is written in stone. Decisions regarding which schools to apply to generally fall out naturally through the process of research. Remember that research goes beyond academics. One must determine if they would feel comfortable on the various campuses. In determining a level of comfort, the list will again, get shorter and shorter.

From the responses, collegeview will generate a comprehensive list of schools. Part of the questionnaire asks about GPA and SAT/ACT scores. The resulting list, will give a percentage for each school. For example, Gettysburg College is on the list, next to the name is the #  97%. That 97% means that Gettysburg, matches responses by 97%. A student fits into what this college is looking for and, the college offers what they are looking for, by 97%. It is a wonderful program that is much more individualized than many others. With the list collegeview generated, one can begin to research schools using Naviance (if you HS uses Naviance) or, www.collegedata.com if they do not. Each website offers information on what schools are looking for in terms of a GPA as well as SAT/ACT scores. By using this information, students are able to learn if a school belongs under the category of: safety, target or reach. Please see the chart below to help understand how collegedata or Naviance, can be of great help in determining those schools which would fit into the different categories. Below the chart is an additional link to an article that will also help one understand the difference in each category.
http://www.collegedata.com/cs/data/college/college_pg02_tmpl.johtml?schoolId=793

http://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/match-reach-safety-schools

Good Luck!

Janice Kirn-Sottilaro

Rachel Minkowsky commented

It may seem tempting to apply to many Reach schools, but the "Hail Mary" approach to applications may set you up for disappointment. Instead, I suggest that Target schools make up the bulk of your list. Work with your SpanOne Advisor to develop a list of schools that match your needs and your grades/test scores. If your school uses Naviance, investigate the college search option first. Prioritize what's most important to you; you do not need to search every field. To determine the likelihood of admission, investigate the Scattergram option. Those charts will help you figure out the mean GPA/test score from classmates that have been accepted into a specific institution from your high school. College Board's "Big Future" college search provides similar information but on a national scale. Also, keep in mind that your Target and Safer schools may be more willing to offer a financial aid package that makes it more feasible to attend.

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