definition of safety school

<p>My son's GC said the schools to which he is applying are all matches, and he needs to have at least two safety schools. I know the standard definition of safety is a school you know you will get into. Does that mean you must be over the middle 50% range for SAT's? What about GPA? How high above the average do you have to be to insure admission? He's starting to panic. We looked at enough schools where he falls at the higher end of the middle 50 range, and I felt that if he applied to 8 schools like this, at least one of them would accept him. We are not good candidates for financial aid, and will probably be considered "full payers". (I thought this might work in his favor, as well.) His top two choices are one school where his SAT is exactly the average (for that college), and the other he is 80 points over the average. His HS uses numerical averages, so I don't know exactly what his GPA is, as every school does this differently. Any information would be appreciated!</p>

<p>I doubt there's a definitive answer to this question - however, I would think a safety school would be one where scores and GPA are in the top 25%.</p>

<p>I agree with Topcat. My understanding of a safety school is one in which the student is at the top 25% both in terms of SAT and GPA; of course, the student should be willing to attend it. For a state university (except the UC system), a student need not score so high, of course.</p>

<p>To ease your fears, apply to a school with rolling admissions (but still strong academically) as soon as possible. That way, he will at least be certain that he's going to college. Schools with rolling admissions: Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State, South Carolina, Florida State, and many more.</p>

<p>I'll echo the top 25% on BOTH SAT and GPA for "unhooked" applicants. Once a college has finished taking the legacies, the "development kids," oboe players, athletes to fill their teams, poets for the lit magazines, published novelists, Olympic contestants, international students, students who will add geographically, ethnically, racially, or economically - well, there aren't a lot of slots for everyone else.</p>

<p>There's a missing element in your definition of "safety," chocolate. A safety is a school you are virtually certain to get into AND that you would be willing to attend. Some people also speak of a "financial" safety and add a third element: a school you can afford to attend.</p>

<p>That said, there can't be a simple formula because for the most selective schools even if you're in the top 25% on both grades and SAT's, you can't count on being admitted. In other words, factors other than grades and test scores are likely to be decisive -- namely EC's, social-geographic factors, etc.</p>

<p>But for schools that are less selective, it's more reasonable to use the "top 25%" rule.</p>

<p>My definition of a safety school is a school that </p>

<p>1) is pretty much certain to admit my kid, based on its known behavior in acting on admission applications, </p>

<p>2) has a strong program in an area my kid is interested in, </p>

<p>3) is affordable based on its known behavior in acting on financial aid applications, </p>

<p>and </p>

<p>4) is likeable to my kid. </p>

<p>The state university in my state fits those characteristics for my oldest son. It pretty much admits people "by the numbers," and is not known to reject applicants who are successful in the accelerated secondary math program my son is now enrolled in there. Of course, we will consider and apply to other schools as well. I have been taking my son to college information meetings for the last month, seeing representatives from most of the "top" schools in the country that are also strong in his chosen field. It's hard to say what will be a match for him, but it's pretty easy already to say which school will be his (one) safety school.</p>

<p>Mackinaw makes a good point. The top schools aren't safeties for anybody -- even 1600/Validictorians get rejected at the ivies. My son's guidance counselor used to say that the safety school is the most important school on the student's list. Because if all else fails, the kid needs to be happy going there.</p>

<p>I disagree with the top 25% theory. A 1550 on the SAT will place a student in the top 25% of the applicants to Brown, Cornell, Penn, Dartmouth, Columbia, Duke etc...and yet, over 50% of the applicants with 1550s on their SAT get rejected by those schools. Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, MIT and Yale can never be considered safeties...full stop.</p>

<p>Building on what you've said, Mackinaw and Alexandre, I think that to qualify as a safety, a school needs to pass two tests: 1) It should be a school for which a student has stats in the top 25%, and 2) it should accept roughly 50% or more of its applicants. The second part of the test need not be met in the case of a "by the numbers" school, i.e., a public university that makes acceptance decisions according to a numerical grid.</p>

<p>I always thought that acceptance percentages figured into this -- that is, NO school with an acceptance rate under 40% is really a safety for anyone.</p>

<p>Exactly WJB and Kiddielit. If a school has an acceptance rate of 35%, there is not way it can be considered a safety. Even a school like Chicago, which has an acceptance rate of 45% is not a safety to anybody. </p>

<p>Take Michigan. They have a 50% acceptance rate. The mean SAT is 1320. The mid 50% SAT range is 1220-1420. I have known 4.0 students with 1450s who were rejected by Michigan, and Michigan is very straighforward.</p>

<p>We posted at about the same time, Kiddielit. I agree. And with respect to LACs especially, even in the 40% acceptance range (and above) there are some schools that I don't think are slam-dunks, even for students in the top 25%. Kenyon, Macalester, Reed, and all the top women's colleges come to mind immediately, and I'm certain there are others. Acceptance at those colleges depends on so much more than statistics. So I think kids who want to use such schools as safeties (assuming they're in the top 25% statistically) should have two safeties. In addition to the LAC, if at all possible, the other should be a "by the numbers" school where acceptance is assured. But at the very least, that kid ought to apply to 2 LACs that fall into the relatively safe category.</p>

<p>Wow, Alexandre, that's a scary example. I have to tell you that in our high school (large, highly competitive midwest public) many of the strongest students apply to Michigan as that "by the numbers" safety I mentioned. I have never heard of a kid being rejected with stats approaching those you cite. Was there some other glaring problem that made that student unacceptable?</p>

<p>There are several reasons. </p>

<p>If a student applies after November, Michigan becomes very unpredictible. </p>

<p>Applicants to the college of Engineering are usually exposed to a more selective admissions process than those applying to the LSA.</p>

<p>Michigan usually does not care as much about SAT as it does about GPA, curriculum and class rank. If a student goes to a weak school, takes a weak load and graduates with a 4.0, her/his grades will not be taken seriously. </p>

<p>Obviously, in the case of Michigan, I would say over 80% of the applicants with 4.0 GPAs and 1450s on their SATs are admitted, but like I said, it is not always clear cut.</p>

<p>Wjb, some state universities actually become filled relatively early in the application cycle - that alone might cause an otherwise well qualified candidate to be rejected.</p>

<p>An absolute safety for a strong numbers candidate(>1500 SAT, A average) is often a state university for all the reasons mentioned. There a number of strategies this person can follow, depending on financials, what state he lives in and the desireability of the state uni. Many kids on this forum with stats in this range, have used a reach-safety strategy - apply to 2-3 (or 1 if you live in Michigan ;)) safety schools then as many reaches as you have the energy/inclination for.</p>

<p>A safety school should be one at which you are certain you will be accepted AND which you want to attend. It does no good to pick a safety that the student doesn't like. Many state schools have statistical criteria that guarantee admission for students with certain GPAs, SAT scores (e.g. my son was an automatic acceptance at the Texas U he applied to because of his SAT score and GPA). It WAS his safety school. It also had rolling admissions so he knew very early on about his acceptance. To be honest, unless a student is unsure, I can't see a reason for two safety schools.</p>

<p>My son is not in the highly competitive class of students that post on this forum, but I am hoping the information offered here applies to less selective schools as well. We have done tremendous research, visited many schools, attended all their info sessions, and came up with a list of what we thought were good matches, based mostly on what was said at the info sessions. He fell in love with JMU in VA, but the adcom (for our area) there said he was "on the bubble". </p>

<p>At the info session we were told: it is not harder for out of state students, as they accept 30-35% out of state and welcome geographical diversity, a solid student with mostly A's and B's, (He has 85 unweighted, 97 weighted, and has some C's in Math, but mostly B+'s and A's) AP's and honors "are a plus" (he has 4 AP's, and all honors except English), SAT average around 1130 (he has 1200). He plays baseball 3 seasons, is moderately active in student leadership activities and works part-time. We thought he was a good fit.
Why is he "on the bubble"? </p>

<p>I feel so bad for him--he is so discouraged, and not just about JMU. He feels that the other schools he is looking at will view him in the same light. I can only imagine how you parents of bright, well-rounded kids with "to die for" stats feel when your children don't get into their top choices, which they undoubtedly deserve to do.</p>

<p>We are now trying to find some safeties, and very quickly. I told him he will be successful wherever he goes to college,( and it may very well be JMU or one of his other choices) and he will go somewhere where he will be happy and grow. That's what it's all about, isn't it?</p>

<p>Thanks again!</p>

<p>Hello Chocolate. your son will do great. There is not reason to worry. I do not know if you have checked out Indiana University-Bloomington, but if you haven't, I would recommend it. It is a great place to study.</p>

<p>The OP reminded me of the experience my daughter had with her high school guidance counselor. After my daughter presented her with the list of schools she was interested in (and had visited), the GC flatly told her they were all reaches and that she had better get some safeties. The GC based her statement on my daughter's SAT scores - she didn't factor in my daughter's other accomplishments.</p>

<p>Long story short, my daughter decided to apply ED to one of those "reach" LACs after carefully considering the fit and overall student profile of the school. She was thrilled to be accepted ED, and we were both ecstatic when she received a $10,000-per-year merit scholarship as well.</p>

<p>Meanwhile, other students who had perfect SATs and GPAs at this very competitive NJ public high school were told it was safe to apply to the top LACs and Ivies - again, based solely on their scores and grades. They were stunned when the "Thanks for your application, but we regret..." letters rolled in.</p>

<p>We learned it really does pay to look beyond scores and grades. Research the schools as much as possible and be realistic.</p>