Changing College List Categories from Reaches/Safeties to Unlikely/Extremely Likely

Then in this case, that would be an “auto admit” situation that @MWolf suggested. Same would hold true for UT with the top 6%.

And that would be a sure thing…or safety. Right?

I will do what the group wants to do…but I do believe there will be lots of explaining to do if the terminology is changed…from what is used in the general public.

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Auto admit would equal sure thing/definite in my book. Of course then there is the problem of maybe not getting into the student’s intended major…

I think if we change verbiage, we’ll need a pinned thread front and center.

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And pinned in a LOT of places….parents forum, college search and selection, chances, actually almost everywhere where folks ask about their chances…

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Personally I think it’s too confusing to adopt different categories here…because as others have pointed out, counselors every where else use some form of reach/match/likely/safety/auto admit categorization.

While I do appreciate the initiative, when we help students categorize schools here, the info we don’t have (essays, LoRs, counselor report, school profile and HS experience with a given college) makes it difficult for most anyone here to calculate some type of probability of acceptance for students.

I also agree with thumper’s point that for some students from top high schools, these categorizations can be different. @Homerdog’s D21 thread is the perfect example of this…some of the mid-range schools (say 30%-40% acceptance rates) that her D was applying to were highly likelies per the school’s naviance and GC, yet some posters were adamant that homerdog was foolish to categorize them as such. Homerdog’s classification turned out to be correct.

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Well, in my own posts I’ve started using the suggested language and it hasn’t seemed to cause any confusion (see posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). I think when the terms we use mean what most people think they’re going to mean, without needing to have specialized knowledge, it helps minimize confusion and increases accessibility. And perhaps it can help students and families understand what is meant by reaches/matches/likelies/safeties, if they even have counselors who are using those terms (a recent thread mentioned how most public high schools get minimal to no college counseling from their school).

Granted, I’ve thrown in the percentages with the categories on an initial use in a thread to make sure that readers know how I’m defining the terms. I also tend to make a statement that the top X schools are unlikely for everyone because of the odds, not because a student would be a poor candidate. I’m fine adding in a guaranteed category as well.

With respect to which admissions rate to use when chancing people, I think that’s the beauty of humans typing in responses rather than a computerized system. Anyone can do a quick search and find the percentage that a university admits. But when we add that data and then see what a student’s GPA and test scores are (particularly if it’s a high/low situation or low-low or high-high) we can interpret that. We can look at a school’s admission breakdown by GPA and see where a student might fit. What other factors the student has that might improve or worsen their odds. It’s not an exact science, but human brains making their best estimates of someone’s chances. How many times have people posting about the chancing done by various websites/software and then seen very different results in real life?

Anyway, I don’t want to post too much, but I look forward to hearing others’ thoughts on the proposal.

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Regardless of terminology, I think the most important public service on this website is giving the true definition of a “safety” (or “extremely likely” or “sure thing” or whatever we call it) so that parents and students understand that this category isn’t as much about number matching or Naviance forecasting or anything like that, but instead amounts to a guarantee of going to college. So auto-admit fits, but so do schools with rolling or early admission that allow enough time for additional apps to be completed if they don’t materialize as admissions before Jan 1. And the finances have to work, and the kid has to be happy with the idea of going there (we can discuss “happy” at another time). Therein lies the origin of the word “safety” but OP I do understand that the term has taken on a negative connotation in certain crowds (I have heard one or more Ivies use it as an insult to another Ivy in their sports cheers…so wrong in so many ways).

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All in good fun during hockey games ; )

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I think counselors would be thrilled to have the word “safety” removed from the list development. Likely and extremely likely shift the conversation to the positive attributes instead of a prescriptive list of safeties.

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I think that they would even more thrilled to remove “reach”, which implies that the students isn’t good enough. “Extremely unlikely” again, like “extremely likely” will shift the conversation to the neutral attributes of the college which make admissions unlikely, rather than to attributes of the students which are generally perceived as negative.

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In addition to the language, I like that there are 4 categories instead of 3.

With my kids, we have their lists broken down into 7 categories/levels of probability.

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@skieurope, @happy1, @MaineLonghorn, @Lindagaf @CC_Mike

What is the next step in the process if this change is to happen? Do we need more feedback? Or…?

Why do we need an “official change”. Just use whatever terms you want to use. I have been using “sure thing” or something like that for years instead of safety….and I just explain in my post.

I’m not sure a wholesale change is needed.

@skieurope @Lindagaf @CC_Mike @happy1 @MaineLonghorn

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I agree with thumper. I’m going to continue categorizing as I always have.

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I think that people can continue to use whatever terms they would like. However, I think it would be beneficial for the sticky post that gives students instructions on how to write a chance/match me thread to have the categories renamed.

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Here’s one thing I noticed when reading AustenNut’s recent posts on chance me threads (which are wonderful, informative, kind, and well done so kudos for that) - whereas “reach” is inherently motivational, “unlikely” comes across as discouraging because it follows “possible” (which gives a sense of “unlikely” being a euphemism for “impossible”). So any wording scheme has its pluses and minuses and I’m not sure a change is needed from the status quo. But thanks for putting so much thought and effort into it!

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Thank you for your kind words. This is one of the reasons why I was hoping for discussion to be made aware of other points of view (and unintended consequences). Since adding a “Guaranteed” category was mentioned for cases of auto-admits and such, would it make sense to add an Extremely Unlikely category of less than 1% or 5%? Because I don’t intend for unlikely to be discouraging, but I think students need to know that odds are, they’re not going to be accepted. It’s not impossible, it’s not as unlikely as winning the lottery, but the odds are not in their favor. So what are people’s thoughts of the categorization system below? Does this assuage some of your concerns @UnsentDementor?

Guaranteed (100%)
Extremely Likely (90+%)
Likely (60-90%)
Possible (25-55%)
Unlikely (5-25%)
Extremely Unlikely (less than 5%)

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The issue is…these are not the same for all applicants.

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Well…my two concerns are #1 not having a huge issue with the current names (safety/match/reach) and #2 the high end of your new scheme sounds “predictive” in a way that doesn’t make too much more sense for an individual application than it would as blanket statements. In other words, HPYSM would be “extremely unlikely” for almost everyone, and even for the few that maybe are more “likely” for HPYSM it would be on the basis of the kinds of hooks that we probably shouldn’t be parsing on CC general threads (for example national/int’l awards that make the poster identifiable, recruitable sports that have their own threads and forums, and race which we shouldn’t really discuss at all by CC rules).

I don’t like Chance me. At all. Would rather just discourage the whole exercise. What I do like is “find me more matches/safeties”. But I’m also fine with “reach” as a label, now that I’ve thought about it a lot with you starting this thread.

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Thanks for this initiative @AustenNut. It’s well intended, although it may be hard to change the prevailing “safety/match/reach” vocabulary just because it’s so ubiquitous outside of CC.

But back to your new categories: I would change “unlikely” to “low probability” and “extremely unlikely” to “very low probability”. I think it better characterizes chances at those schools in a less negative way than “unlikely”.

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