How Many Safety Schools?

<p>Agree with all the above. Look at it this way, does no good to apply to colleges that you can't afford. Does no good to apply to colleges and end up with no acceptances. Start from the bottom up. Find one or two colleges where the acceptance is going to be a piece of cake and is affordable. After that add wish list colleges and you are will be fine. Remember many thousands of students every year only apply to a couple colleges. My kids went the 2 safeties, 2 matches and a reach (or 2 in the case of #2) route with their apps. You can add as many matches as you want to satisfy your personal financial situation if that is a concern and you want to be able to compare aid offers but do have at least one that you know you can afford without wishful thinking.</p>

<p>To add to mom2 post, in our state, many qualified kids don't get into our state flagship not because of their transcript but because they wait too long to apply. Our guidance office spends a great deal of effort in September and October prodding kids to get the apps in and there are always those that can't muster the energy until December or even January.</p>

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I would say no more than two safeties. One safety is fine if a kid really likes that school.

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<p>No, one is always too few unless that school has a guaranteed admissions calculator.</p>

<p>I agree that each kid should have 2 safties that they really like and you can afford. It's also really important to choose 1 safety with rolling or early notification. Getting an early acceptance really relieves some of the stress of senior year. Sometimes the hardest job is finding safeties that your child really likes.</p>

<p>Of course, there are exceptional situations in which applying to no safety schools is appropriate. I, for example, may not apply to any matches or safties, and it should work out. In general, though, you can't go wrong with applying to a couple viable safeties; and it's better to apply to too many than to too few.</p>

<p>If the safety has rolling admission AND you apply early (ideally the first day you can apply), then you only need one. Otherwise, I think two is a good idea - and even would say three if none of them are rolling admissions and you won't know for sure until April.</p>

<p>You need a safety school or safety plan. Just one is all you need but one that your student understands is a viable option. The safety list is the hardest to compile. All kids and parents love to visit the big name schools and love rollling the names of those well known schools off of their tongues. Looking for a school that is pretty much guaranteed to take your kid and one that is affordable is a whole other thing. </p>

<p>Just make sure that the state school is truly a safety by getting that app in early. Also be aware that if your kid has a slump senior year or gets into trouble, a state school that is selective in admissions might not be so safe. You don't necessarily have to formally plan for such thing, but you should be keeping your antennas up for options nearby if things happen like a catastrophe in the family or problems, that will weather them. I look at safeties more as a process than another school on the list.</p>

<p>My kids put their collective noses up, every one of them, with the 4th one now joining the herd at a local CUNY that would pay all of their costs with a certain cut off GPA which they all had and certain test score threshhold, which, again, they all had/have. I make them send off the paperwork. Nice to have in the back pocket, and I've known kids who have gotten a lot out of that program including their advertised paid in full summer and year abroad programs. Free vs a year's tuition and expenses at a private college rate for the same danged thing. I'll say it's a good deal. A neighbor whose husband lost his job and they nearly lost their home, has a D who took that deal even though it horrified the parents who would have sold their kidneys for her to go to the selective LAC that was her first choice. But she has now transferred to NYU after getting two years of credit and a full year, not just school year abroad with that program. Living at home, and still commuting she will get a NYU degree for a fraction of the cost and she only spend one year at the CUNY campus since she was abroad for the second year. It was such a windfall for her, and her safety. </p>

<p>A reach school is one where your stats and situation puts you towards the lower half of the accepted applicant data., in my definition. Though it can depend on the school. You could well be a match for Harvard, but so are most of the kids who apply, so that even meeting their highest 25% stats, does not give you a great chance to acceptance, whereas at some schools that could be a safety. So the school's selectivity rate comes into play as well. </p>

<p>This is where your school GC can often help you, as could the Naviance data. If it looks like everyone who applies from your school with your stats gets into a certain school, it can be a good strong match. I define safeties more strictly than most folks, as I consider it the failsafe measure. As I said earlier, I think of it more as a process than so much as a single school.</p>

<p>^^ That's my plan. One safety with rolling admissions and applying as early as possible, almost guaranteed full ride.</p>

<p>just another plug for the EA/rolling school(s) Also agree that if a kid ends up having to attend a safety there should be a choice between at least two of them.</p>

<p>Everyone should have a school on their list that they will certainly get into AND afford AND can see going to. All three are equally important, in my view. For those with excellent resumes, the flagship state schools can often serve this purpose as can other schools that offer big National Merit scholarships. Good school counselors can help students in terms of the admissions question, but families will have to be very clear about the money. What schools define as reasonable contributions may not be what families can provide. Students should also realize that they will find peers at these schools. Lots of very talented kids choose not to travel far from home or to expensive schools (or both). Many also realize that large state schools often offer a lot of freedom to bright kids. Honor colleges within these schools will often waive requirements for courses , including grad level.</p>

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Everyone should have a school on their list that they will certainly get into AND afford AND can see going to.

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<p>In general, I agree. Sometimes, however, this is not attainable.</p>

<p>I agree with historymom. I like to see every student have a choice in April.</p>

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Everyone should have a school on their list that they will certainly get into AND afford AND can see going to. All three are equally important, in my view.

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As Silverturtle has already pointed out, not every student can see themselves going to a safety.</p>

<p>If Silverturtle is hinting that money is no object then yes, certainly the student can take more risk with choices. The odds are higher that the student will get in somewhere and it won't matter because the check can be written. For most people finances are a consideration and factor in the decision-making. For our family we had a budget to work with, the state flagship was definitely NOT the safety. Acceptance was not guaranteed, there was low probability of much tuition discounting, state money had dried up and the costs are higher as a full pay that we would be than our desired budget. The flagship was a match...but not a safety.</p>

<p>I think what he means to say is that not every student has a safety school that he or she likes and would want to attend.</p>

<p>What if the school has rolling admissions, and is financially affordable for the family AND the student would be thrilled to attend but of course is not well-known and/or "prestigious", does it matter???</p>

<p>^ I'm confused as to what you are asking. If you're wondering if that is a viable safety, then yes. Most safeties aren't "prestigious" because admissions into these schools is "safe" by definition.</p>

<p>^ Now I'm confused by YOUR question :) But I guess I was asking if it matters that it's not a "name brand" school...</p>

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If Silverturtle is hinting that money is no object then yes

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<p>Jersey13 correctly interpreted my point.</p>

<p>Do be careful with those state schools. Many are no longer safeties, particularly those with rolling admissions and popular programs that fill up fast. I've known some very upset, excellent students who did not apply early and were shut out of their state programs. When those programs are closed, that is it regardless of how great your profile may be, and some of the schools are not helpful with alternatives, like starting in the summer term or spring term, or switching majors. On the other hand, state schools as with any school with rolling admissions make excellent admissions safeties as you can get a response early if you get that app in early. Like in September or October. EA can serve the same purpose but often the response comes right when school is letting out for winter break and if other apps are not out, a negative response can make for a not so merry Christmas season and a not so happy new year.</p>

<p>OP: even if your child has tip top stats, where their scores/GPA fall above the 75th %, if the school has a low admission rate, then I'd call them "lottery schools." Not sure about Northwestern & Wash U, but Vanderbilt had a 16% admission rate this year. To me, that admission rate factored in heavily when D was trying to figure out what were safeties, matches & reaches. </p>

<p>And as a parent, you really need to talk finances with your child & explain the concept of financial safety to them, unless you can fully fund a $208,000 degree over 4 years. If you can't, then you need to run the financial aid calculators to see what your EFC (expected family contribution) will be each year. </p>

<p>So say the state university mentioned costs $30,000/year including room & board. If your GC says your child WILL get in, you can probably feel comfortable knowing it's an academic safety. But what about financially? Run your EFC & see what it says. Suppose it says that your EFC is $30,000. Can your family afford $30,000/year even if the EFC says you should be able to? Does the academic safety offer guaranteed scholarships based on your child's stats? </p>

<p>I wouldn't say that you have to be offered a full ride for it to be considered a financial safety; that's really a personal decision that every family has to make based on their own unique circumstances. DH & I came up with a dollar number per year that we were comfortable with (equivalent to COA for our state flagship) and told D we would pay up to that per year. If she wanted to go somewhere else, the financial aid package would be a decision maker for her. But, we told her this at the end of junior year, so there were no surprises come April of her senior year.</p>