How to Choose Your Reach, Target, & Safety Schools

Ashley Blog.png

When creating your college list, a lot of anxiety can bubble up when thinking about the balance of target schools, reach schools, and safety, or likely, schools. How do you know which school falls into what category for you? Rather than selecting colleges purely based on admissions statistics (“hard” to get into vs. “easy” to get into), I highly recommend utilizing your LogicPrep college advisor and high school college counselor to make sure your list is balanced with schools you’d love to attend. All of the LP college advisors were college admissions officers, so we understand where you stand at each of these schools, and we can help you define reach, target, and safety schools specific to you. Keep in mind: it’s important to have a full college list of places you’re excited about - many of which are within reach in terms of admissibility. Students with a thoughtful and well-balanced list tend to have a less stressful college application process.

In general, reach schools are those that tend to have admissions statistics that are not in the applicant’s favor. A college is categorized as a reach school if your academic credentials fall in the lower end or below the school’s average range of accepted students from the previous class. Keep in mind, however, even if your academic credentials fall within the school’s average range of accepted students, a school can still be considered a reach if statistically, the chances of admission are very, very low. At many highly selective institutions, there are simply too many qualified applications for too few spots, driving the acceptance rate down.

It’s equally important to include target schools on your college list. Target schools are ones where your academic credentials fall in line with a school’s average range for accepted students. Of course there’s no guarantee with holistic admissions, but it’s fairly reasonable to expect a handful of offers of admission from your target schools.

Safety schools are often thought of as “backup options,” however, it’s crucial that your safety schools are ones you’ve researched enough (or visited!) to know you’d be happy to attend for the next four years. A safety school is defined as one where your academic credentials exceed the average range of admitted students. With the help of your LP college advisor and your college counselor, you can be pretty certain to receive good news from your safety schools.

At LogicPrep, we encourage you to apply to no more than 12 schools. Why is it important to have a balanced list of reach, target, and safety schools among your 12? Applying to a range of schools will ensure that you can set ambitious goals while also having some appealing fallback options. Additionally, the more schools you apply to, the more work you’re adding to your plate (hello, supplemental essays). Our hope at the end of your college process is for you to land somewhere you’re excited about. Regardless of the outcomes, you’ll be happy and successful because of your research and thoughtful approach to selecting your college list.