Searching for match and safety schools

As a junior part way into the college search process, I’m having some difficulties finding schools that I would consider safety schools, or even just schools I would think I would be more of a “good fit” for. I mean, obviously it’s easy enough to find lots of reach schools, but even for schools not necessarily thought of as the most selective (Cal, Claremont McKenna Colleges, Rice, and others) I feel that I in no way can feel confident or feel that I have a strong chance of acceptance. I’ve really only been able to pick UCSD as a solid safety, and I’m sure I will need to find at least a couple other safeties in order to feel completely safe.

I just was wondering if anyone had any tips or would be able to provide me some names of notable reach or mid-level schools. Just for reference, I’m likely to go to school for some combination of chem and bio, but I don’t rule out the possibilities of aerospace/astrophysics and engineering or even pre-med. If more personal information would be needed to make any recommendations, I can also share GPA, courses, test scores, etc.

Thanks all!

You can run the Supermatch tool on the left side of this page. A safety should be a place you can definitely get into, can definitely afford, and would be happy to attend. Some options may be in this thread:

What are your stats since the majority of the UC’s cannot be considered safety schools? Take a look at some of the stats from waitlisted and rejected applicants this year.

Yeah I’m aware that even UCSD isn’t necessarily a solid safety school, but that is part of the reasoning I had behind asking my original question.

For reference, I do believe I have solid grades to get into UCSD, as I have a 4.95 weighted (4.29 unweighted) gpa, 2290 SAT and 34 ACT, and I currently have very good grades in AP USH, Chem, and Lang classes. One of the problems I have with the college match tool is that, by simply plugging in the numbers above, no matter what else I change, it will just show me those top-tier schools that I have very limited chances of getting accepted to.

I guess what I’m really asking is which colleges would be a good fit for me based on my grades and interests alone? Of course I’ve already explored colleges like Harvard and MIT, but I’m more interested in places where my chances of acceptance would be higher, although the level of education and opportunities would be comparable. Really, I’m just having difficulty finding those sort of mid-level schools where I could be more competitive than top-tier ivies and research institutions.


4.29 unweighted…?

Unweighted GPA means:
A - 4
B - 3
C - 2
D - 1
F - 0

for all classes including AP/IB/Honors

I assume you are a CA resident. You can look at other UC’s lower on the “food chain” than UCSD- UCR, UCI etc. For engrg, Cal Poly SLO is supposed to be good, and could possibly be a safety. (I am on the East Coast and do not know too much about the state schools in California other than the fact some are very competitive.) Does your school have naviance or something similar so that you can sort of see where others with your stats got into?

If you’re willing to go OOS- maybe UofArizona could throw some merit your way? Or ASU? Not sure any more , because everyone wants OOS dollars. There is U of Alabama, which gives a lot of merit. All have good engrg. schools and your stats are excellent.

In addition to safeties, you will need match schools as well. The universities you listed would be seen by me as reaches due to the limited number students they take in their programs. And in what universe are RIce, CMK, and Cal “not as selective”?

Cal Poly SLO’s engineering program is as competitive as many of the UC’s, again do not consider this school a safety.

Calculate your UC GPA since an unweighted GPA over 4.0 impossible.

You have very competitive stats so you do have good chances for the UC’s, but essays and EC’s will also be considered in your application review, so you will want to emphasize these areas also. It is definitely worth your time to apply to several of the UC’s, Cal Poly SLO, Harvey Mudd and USC for in-state. I cannot give you any recommendations for OOS schools, but the best you can do is apply broadly. Also have a dollar amount of what your parents are willing to spend, which will help you further narrow choices based on FA and/or merit aid if needed.

Thanks all for the advice!

In reference to the uw GPA, I’m actually a CT resident, and, I’m not sure if my school is just strange when it comes to how we scale GPA, but i’ve reported the same UW GPA that is currently on my transcript.

Either way, thanks for the comments. I’m just kinda realizing that I need to look further and harder at schools that aren’t so competitive, and maybe I’ll be able to get some merit-scholarships at some OOS schools that aren’t as selective. Guess I’m just going to have to start searching!

Is it possible that your school’s GPA is out of 5.0, not out of 4.0?

As an OOS student you definitely need to calculate your UC GPA. I believe OOS honors courses don’t get extra weight, only APs. And you need to ask your parents if they are willing to pay $50K/year for a UC. You’ll get no state aid.

I wouldn’t not put Cal Poly engineering down as a safety. They accept applicants differently department to department, if you look at the specifics, the acceptance rate is 20% with a 4.1 GPA and gets to around 10% for certain departments like CS

One more comment about UCSD. My daughter has 3 friends from different high schools with higher stats. One was the valedictorian and National Merit finalist for example. All rejected. All were beyond shocked. UCSD they thought was a reasonable match. Their reaches were MIT, CalTech, Stanford, etc. Be careful with what you consider a safety or match because admissions seem to be getting crazier each year. She did have one friend accepted to UCSD. High GPA, low SAT, business major and recruited athlete.