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How common is it to be denied from ALL of your reach schools?

AmduseusAmduseus Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
I've been planning on applying to a number of top colleges (along with safer ones, so don't worry), and though I am academically qualified for all of them, being rejected from most wouldn't be surprising. I wouldn't say my chances at any one of these places is especially good, but when taken collectively, I'm guessing that the chances of getting accepted into at least one is a bit better.. How often do people applying to higher-end colleges get denied from EVERY choice?

For reference, the best colleges currently on my radar include Princeton, JHU, U Penn, Cornell, MIT, and Brown.
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Replies to: How common is it to be denied from ALL of your reach schools?

  • TestingearlyTestingearly Registered User Posts: 326 Member
    @Amduseus - I looked at your stats and I predict that with good essays you willl be accepted at Johns Hopkins, Penn, and Cornell RD. I would be shocked if you were shut out of your reach schools. My DD17 with similar stats was accepted at Hopkins, Penn, Yale, Columbia, and Stanford RD. Start working on your essays now. They are extremely time consuming. Also, apply to a few diversity flyins like the Penn Early Exploration Program. Good luck!
  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri Registered User Posts: 5,817 Senior Member
    I don't think it works like that. I think applying to several reach schools (especially colleges whose acceptance rates are very low) are related but independent events. They're related because if your stats aren't competitive, the chance of admission is slim to none. But they're independent because each school determines whether or not a particular student meets one of their institutional needs. Apply, but don't assume you'll be accepted. Good luck.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 31,484 Senior Member
    From that tier of colleges and any college with sub20% acceptance rates, it's actually the most common situation. If you include colleges with 30-35% acceptance rates it's common to get into a few. This is assuming you don't have a hook (lower income URM, first gen student, athlete, legacy, development) and haven't won the international math Olympiads.
    Not only would you need the customary 2 affordable safeties (which would be colleges with acceptance rates 40%+, including probably your state flagship's honors college unless your flagship is UVA or UCB/UCLA etc) but also 5 well-chosen matches (because odds are, you'll be attending one of these.) Look into LACs, check out what the Midwest and South have to offer, run the NPC s and make sure your parents are on board with costs at all of them.
    As was stated above, admission at these schools is both related and independent. So matches become super important. Good luck!
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 3,080 Senior Member
    I know several kids who were shut out of all their reaches. Valedictorians with cool EC achievements, kids with perfect test scores, etc. I didn't read their apps, but for whatever reason, they didn't jump out of the pile for any adcom. So yes, it happens. JhU and Cornell are slightly easier. You can't get in if you don't apply. And if you're not accepted, you're no less smart than if you were.
  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston Registered User Posts: 11,366 Senior Member
    edited July 16
    Or you may get accepted at some reach schools but they turn out to be unaffordable. Not all reach schools are as generous as HYP.
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 6,924 Senior Member
    It's very common. In fact, this past April there were a bunch of posts from people complaining that they didn't get into any of their top choices and had to settle for lowly schools in the top fifty. I also had a couple of pm's from students who got into none, or only one college and didn't know why. I would completely ignore the advice in post 1. You do not increase your chances of getting into top schools by applying to more of them. It simply doesn't work that way.

    Here are two cautionary tales that you might find enlightening:
    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-admissions/1891200-asian-rejected-from-everywhere-postmortem-p1.html

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-admissions/1877295--to-only-2-out-of-17-schools-and-what-i-learned-p1.html
  • college_querycollege_query Registered User Posts: 3,990 Senior Member
    One of my S's best friends had wonderful stats and while he wasn't outright rejected from all of his reaches, he was waitlisted (and never admitted) at all of them. Fortunately he had a few other options.
  • EyeVeeeEyeVeee Registered User Posts: 487 Member
    I was surprised at the first response by @Testingearly, so I went and checked out your stats. I won't be so bold as to predict specific schools, but I think it's likely that you are accepted to a few of them. I agree with @TomSrOfBoston that FA has the potential to be noticeably different between the schools listed.

    Specifics around your background that I thought/noted.

    I would prioritize any leadership / elected positions. Class officer is an example of an activity that says a lot about your interactions with others and their view of you. If you have that type of example, use it early.

    The NJ Governor's school finalist is something I'm familiar with, as our HS has sent someone 3 of the last 4 years. Those students are now at Yale, UChicago and UVA, so being considered along with students who I know to be exceptional suggests you should be competitive at the schools on your list.

    Best of luck.
  • bjkmombjkmom Registered User Posts: 4,558 Senior Member
    Isn't the whole idea behind "reach" that you're likely to be denied??

    The idea that applying to a lot of reach schools somehow upps your odds of being accepted by one makes no sense mathematically.
  • jym626jym626 Registered User Posts: 52,141 Senior Member
    edited July 16
    The OP appears to have a URM hook, and has strong stats which are positive and in their favor. That said, as others have pointed out, all of these are reach schools with low admission rates and each are independent of the other so the chances of getting into one does not affect chance of getting into any other.
  • MassDaD68MassDaD68 Registered User Posts: 1,321 Senior Member
    The whole point of a reach school is to be a low percentage shot. It is very common to not get accepted to your reach schools. You need to have a blend. Reach, solids, safeties. Make sure these are all in line with you financially. That is the biggest hurdle.
  • worriestoomuchworriestoomuch Registered User Posts: 119 Junior Member
    I think that a "scattershot" approach to applying to colleges - either extremely or moderately competitive ones - shows a lack of insight into the admissions process and one's own academic needs/wants. Colleges/universities want to be perceived by applicants as distinctive and different from one another, so it is extremely important that one's applications not sound generic. If your essays and short answers sound like they can be used for any school, that will register with admissions officers as clueless or even lazy. So, I'm skeptical when a student claims to have perfect standardized test scores, outstanding extracurriculars and community service activities and yet fails to gain acceptance to any of their "reach schools." The essays and short answers are a student's opportunity to create a compelling narrative that ties together their academic, social and other interests. I think this is where most seemingly stellar students "drop the ball" out of fear that they will sound too different from their peers. But taking that leap is what will distinguish one student's application from another's. So go ahead. Be fearless!
  • AroundHereAroundHere Registered User Posts: 2,456 Senior Member
    Even though they have separate adcoms, a lot of the highly selective schools are still looking for the same thing.
  • worriestoomuchworriestoomuch Registered User Posts: 119 Junior Member
    Of course. They all want terrific, motivated students who will be engaged in their college communities. But those communities vary a lot. They have different cultures. And AOs want applicants to get that and want them to express that understanding on their applications.
  • me29034me29034 Registered User Posts: 1,206 Senior Member
    The valedictorian from my D's high school class was denied from all her reaches. She had a perfect SAT, very high grades and interesting ECs. She was double legacy at Stanford. She applied early action to Stanford and was deferred and later denied. She was denied at all her other reach schools, as well. She is currently attending a large public flagship.
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