How to define REACH, MATCH, and SAFETY schools?

<p>I know the definitions of each, from Princeton Review...</p>

<p>REACH: one where your academic credentials fall below the school's range for the average freshman. Reach schools are long–shots, but they should still be possible. If you have a 2.0 GPA, Harvard is not a reach school–it's a dream.
MATCH: one where your academic credentials fall well within (or even exceed) the school's range for the average freshman. There are no guarantees, but it's not unreasonable to be accepted to several of your match schools.
SAFETY: one where your academic credentials fall above the school's range for the average freshman. You can be reasonably certain that you will be admitted to your safety schools.</p>

<p>I'm a junior and am working to compile a nice list of schools to apply to. Also, disregard the spaghetti mess of EA and ED. Looking at this with a high ACT score, high tier high school classes, and reasonable (athletic and musical) ECs, is this a reasonable list of colleges? Am I not classifying some schools properly? Should I look at more safeties/matches?</p>

<p>REACH: Harvard, MIT, Cornell, Princeton
MATCH: Purdue, GA Tech, Notre Dame, U of Michigan
SAFETY: Ohio State, University of Cincinnati, ??? (I'm from Ohio)</p>

<p>Thank you all for your input!</p>

<p>Not exactly:
Safety: >95% chance
Low Match: 80-95% chance
Match: 65-80% chance
High Match: 50-65% chance
Low Reach: 35-50% chance
Reach: 20-35% chance
High Reach: 5-20% chance
Out of reach: <5% chance</p>

<p>The Princeton Review definition does not take in to account financial reach, safety, and match. That also needs to be a factor for anyone who cannot afford to pay full cost at schools. Have you talked to your parents about how much they can contribute to your education? Running the net price calculators at the school’s sites can give you an idea of how attainable a school is financially. While finances should not be your only consideration, it does need to be taken in to account. Since you’re from Ohio, the in-state schools you’ve listed may be financial safeties for you, but that’s a conversation you need to have with your parents. Where do schools like Notre Dame or out of state publics fall on the financial reality scale?</p>

<p>If you’re hoping for merit scholarships, check that they are offered by the schools, and realize they are only awarded to students in the very top of the admitted range. </p>

<p>I would include a few more higher-tier matches that might qualify as ‘high’ matches or maybe ‘low’ reaches. Schools like Northwestern, Washington University in St. Louis, etc. </p>

<p>@SurvivorFan I understand your percentages, but what does your “Not Exactly” mean?</p>

<p>@InigoMontoya That’s a valid point, and I have talked to my parents.</p>

<p>@Guest15 Do you have a reason to include more matches/reaches? Out of curiosity, are you a college student/graduate or a parent/adult or someone in the same position as me?</p>

<p>I’m a college student that has an interest in pedagogy.</p>

<p>I think you should include more matches because all of your matches (Except Purdue) are very selective schools where you won’t necessarily be accepted. It’s good to have more matches because you have a higher chance of not going to a safety. Of course, that is if you can afford to apply to a number of colleges. </p>

<p>I was just saying that your definitions were slightly off (ex. a match is usually when you are slightly above the average stats).</p>

<p>@SurvivorFan Thanks for the clarification, and @Guest15 you’re suggesting to shift some of my match schools to reach while searching for more schools in the match range? </p>

<p>You can’t just look at the school’s stats range. You also need to consider admit rate. My rough rule of thumb is that any school with an admit rate < 10% is a high reach for anyone–well, an impossible dream for most, but a high reach even for the highest-stats applicants. Any school with an admit rate < 20% is a reach (or higher) for anyone. By that definition, and without knowing your stats, Harvard, MIT, and Princeton are high reaches, Cornell at best a reach.</p>

<p>Similarly, I’d say any school with an admit rate of < 40% is going to be at best a high match for an applicant whose stats are well into the top quartile for that school, and a low reach to a reach for everyone else. Of the schools you list as matches, Notre Dame has an admit rate of 23.3% (US News data, so this is a couple of years old; might be lower now). Michigan will probably have an overall admit rate around 33% this year, but you need to keep in mind that their in-state admit rate is nearly 50%, which means their OOS admit rate must be much lower, probably somewhere around 25%, if not a bit lower. So I’d say these schools are low reaches or reaches unless your stats are well into their top quartile, in which case they’re at best high matches. Also keep in mind that some schools at Michigan–engineering and Ross (the business school), in particular–are considerably more selective than other undergraduate units, so the aggregate admit rate may be doubly misleading. I wouldn’t be surprised if Michigan engineering’s OOS admit rate is well below 20%, i.e., a reach for every OOS applicant (by my definition). In contrast, Georgia Tech and Purdue have much higher admit rates, 54.9% for Georgia Tech and 61.3% for Purdue. Again, these are public universities, so you’ve got to assume their OOS admit rates are lower than the posted aggregates, but they’re much less selective than Michigan and Notre Dame. Georgia Tech’s entering class stats are high, but their overall admit rate is roughly double that of Notre Dame or Michigan OOS. Purdue’s entering class stats are lower, and their admit rate is much higher than Michigan or ND. I think it’s a mistake to lump these four schools together. They’re all quality schools, but on the admissions side they’re not really in the same ballpark.</p>

<p>Well, I would recommend looking at schools in between Michigan and Notre Dame and Georgia Tech and Purdue. That means pushing those first two more into the ‘reach’ area, and pushing those latter two more into the ‘low match’ area, I guess. </p>

<p>As a parent who has been through this once and getting ready to do it again – bclintonk’s emphasis on acceptance rate folded into stats is an effective way to look at it. A student might think that, because they have a 3.9 and a 35 ACT, they are a “match” for tip top schools. But with acceptance rates well below 10%, no one can consider those a match. I tend to think there are no “matches” within the top 20 universities and LACs because of the unpredictability of holistic review. </p>

<p>The most important schools to find are the safeties – where a student is happy to go and can afford to go, and is almost certain to be admitted. For those of us in the midwest fortunate to have strong flagships, that tends to be in our instate option. Elsewhere, it is trickier to find those couple of safeties. </p>

<p>I would agree that Michigan out of state is not a match, nor is ND. I don’t have a tech kind of kid, but I would imagine that Ga tech, out of state, is not a match either. For many strong applicants, there are safeties and reaches – finding matches is a challenge. </p>

<p>Do have the financial conversation with your parents – what are the parameters, do you need to get merit aid to be able to swing this, what are their expectations if you, for instance, get merit money and Honors at OSU vs. debt at other schools. None of us want to tell our kids that a dream is out of reach, and we want to believe we will find a way to make it work, but it is important to understand the options. </p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>I agree with @Midwestmomofboys‌ (as well as @bclintonk‌ and @InigoMontoya‌) that you need to consider the selectivity of the school as well as finances. For instance, you will most likely be full pay for UMich and Purdue OOS (there are very few highly competitive scholarships available). Are your parents prepared to pay $60K/year for college? </p>

<p>The most important is the safety:</p>

<p>A safety must be a school that you are certain to be admitted to, and certain that you can afford. It must also have the academic programs and majors that you are interested in, and must otherwise be a place that you would like to attend (i.e. if you did not get into any other school, would you be happy to go to your safety, or would you be back here posting whether you should take a gap year? if the latter, then choose a better safety).</p>

<p>Net price calculators on school web sites can give you estimates of need-based financial aid, although they may be less accurate for complex family financial situations (divorced and remarried parents, parents with a small business or highly variable income, etc.) than for married parents with relatively stable income mainly from wages/salaries.</p>

<p>If being able to afford a school is dependent on getting a merit scholarship, then the reach/match/safety assessment must be based on getting the merit scholarship, not merely admission. Automatic-for-stats-that-you-have merit scholarships can be considered for safeties, but competitive merit scholarships often move the school into a more difficult category (e.g. a safety-for-admission school may become a match or reach if you need a competitive merit scholarship to attend).</p>

<p>Read this thread: <a href=“”></a></p>

<p>From reading CC, it seems like highly qualified students (who are reasonably considering Ivies) really need 4 categories:
since even if their stats are decent for the tippy-top schools, the admit rates are so low as not to be considered the way one normally evaluates “reach” schools. </p>

<p>@staceyneil I think that’s one way of looking at it. There comes a point where looking at the middle 50 really doesn’t give much information concerning your chance of acceptance. My guess is that HYP etc. as well as schools such as WashU, Northwestern, Duke Vandy turn down more people with stats in their top 25% than they accept. For schools with higher acceptance rates those statistics are probably more of an accurate indicator. </p>

<p>Don’t forget another category: “out of reach”. This indicates schools where the chance of either admission or affordability is zero.</p>

<p>@staceyneil I really like the term “lottery” for some reason…</p>