Applying to college is both fun and stressful. Students can apply to numerous colleges when going through the college admissions process. Odds are you will not get into every college you apply to. Some schools you apply to may be extremely selective and your odds of getting accepted are low – but what is a reach school?
What is a Reach School?
A reach school is a college or university that either admits very few students or has some requirements that you do not meet. A reach school should be a school that you have a chance of getting into, but your grades, test scores, or class rank might be on the lower side of what that school usually accepts.
Reach schools are different for everybody – a student who has a 3.5 GPA and a 24 on their ACT may consider Ohio State a reach school, while a student who has a 3.9 GPA and a 31 on their ACT would not consider Ohio State a reach school.
What is Considered a Reach School?
Generally, the most selective schools in the country are considered reach schools for everyone, due to their selectivity. Schools that are generally considered reach schools for everyone include MIT, Harvard, Stanford, and other Ivy League schools.
But what about other colleges and universities? Consider the following when trying to decide if a school is a reach school or not for you:
- ACT and SAT test scores – if your test scores fall below the average test scores for students who gain admission to the college or university, consider this school a reach school.
- High School GPA – if your high school GPA falls below the average high school GPA for students who gain admission to the college or university, consider this school a reach school.
While test scores and GPA aren’t the end all be all for college admissions, they are a good way to categorize schools as reach schools when applying to college. If your test scores or GPA don’t meet the standards of your reach school, you can leverage extra-curricular activities, service, and other factors when applying to reach schools.
How Many Reach Schools Should I Apply To?
Students can apply to as many as 20 colleges when using the common application. Students can apply to as many reach schools as they want. The most important thing when applying to reach schools is to also apply to match schools and safety schools.
Reach schools are considered reach schools for a reason – your chances of getting in aren’t that great. You want to make sure you have other options in case you don’t get into any of your reach schools. Most students will apply to 2-3 reach schools, 3-4 match schools, and 2-3 safety schools.
What is a Match School?
A match school is a college or university that best aligns with you. Schools that best align with you mean your GPA and test scores match those of other students who received admission. Match schools should mean that you are not guaranteed admission, but there is a very high chance that you will be accepted.
Students should apply to 3-4 match schools. If they get into all their match schools, they will have plenty of options. Options are always a good thing when applying to colleges.
What is a Safety School?
A safety school is a college or university that you will get into without a question – unless something unforeseen happens. Most schools that are considered safety schools for students will have high acceptance rates. While a safety school might not be a student’s top choice, it is always a good idea to apply to a couple safety schools.
Students should apply to 2-3 safety schools. If all else fails, students can attend one of their safety schools and still get a college degree. A lot of schools that are considered “safety schools” still have great academics and will give students a great college experience. Do not be discouraged if you only get into your safety schools!