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.

3 Answers

Jon Semcer Points0

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, available on the college's profile to determine if you should apply:

  • Middle 50% range of SAT scores of admitted students
  • Mean grade point average of admitted students
  • The class rank percentile of admitted students

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, geographically, and location-wise.

Good luck in the coming months with your application process.

Janice Kirn-Sottilaro Points0

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 the overwhelming part.

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 high school 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 your 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. Another resource for helping choose safety, target, and reach schools can be found on PrincetonReview.com

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.
SpanOne Staff Points0

Building a List of Safety, Target and Reach Schools to Apply To

When putting together your list of colleges and universities to apply to, it’s helpful to divide the schools into three sections: safety, target, and reach schools.

Safety schools are those that you will almost certainly get accepted at. A target school tis one in which your profile is competitive with that of admitted students, and a reach school is a stretch for you—your grades, test scores and overall profile are lower than what the school lists as its student profile.

You can check your test scores, grade point average (GPA), and extracurricular activities against a school’s most recent accepted class profile. You can usually find this by searching on the school’s website for “freshman class profile.” While it’s important to apply to some safety schools, and one or two reach schools, most of the schools you apply to should be target schools.

Help Building Your College List

In addition to looking at each school’s profile, look at the College Board’s Big Future page, which asks questions about the type of school you are looking for and then gives you information to help you build your list. Remember when choosing a college, there’s more to it than how your profile compares to the school’s numbers. The school also has to be a place that you would happily attend. This involves the courses available, the size and location of the school, and other lifestyle factors.

SpanOne college counselors work with students to develop a “best fit” college list matched to a student’s needs and interests. For more information, please contact us for a free consultation.


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