Were you rejected or waitlisted at a safety?

<p>I don't mind the term "safety." No disrespect intended to the schools, which might very well be excellent. And "safety" shouldn't mean condescension on the applicant's part, either. I think true safety schools are still out there, but, as others have pointed out, they're not going to be the same schools for every applicant, and schools you considered to be "safeties" when your student entered high school may well have become matches or even high matches by the time senior year rolls around.</p>

<p>Finding a true safety school requires an objective look at both school and applicant. It also requires a lot more legwork on the applicant's part, because it needs to be a safety he/she would happily attend. (And can afford!) For a potential dancer or actor, it needs to be a school where the student surpasses the student profile but no audition is required - and the program is still strong enough to help the student develop as an artist. For an intellectually gifted kid with a weaker area that doesn't match his/her overall ability (GPA/SAT/essay writing skill), it's got to be a school where the student still surpasses the 75th percentile of admitted students and the academic atmosphere offers what the student wants. </p>

<p>I love those RD/EA schools, too - makes for a much happier senior year. In hindsight (which is all we have to go on, of course), if a student is rejected or waitlisted, it wasn't a safety.</p>

<p>My son was accepted to one of his reaches (with merit aid!), WL at one of his matches (very surprised) and got strong merit aid at one of his other matches (another surprise). </p>

<p>My advice to parents going through this process is don't count on anything except the sure-bet schools....in other words, those schools where your child is * well above * the average GPA and test scores. We were surprised by the number of unpredicted results in son's graduating class. Kids got into high reaches and others didn't get into likelys or safeties. While there is a measure of predictability to the college admission process, there's never a guarantee. It's still very much a subjective process at many schools.</p>

<p>MomLive, our son was also accepted to his reach school with merit aid (another big surprise)!!</p>

<p>I'm not sure if this was already mentioned, but a big reason why people are getting rejected/wait-listed at their safeties is due to rankings.</p>

<p>Lets take a school like UCSanta Barbara for example. They know that the kid who applies with a 2100 SAT, 3.9 GPA, loads of extra curriculars and great essays, will not be attending, so why should they even start the paperwork and try to sell to him?<br>
At the same time, many waitlist schools (like USC) use the spring admit as what I originally said, to boost rankings. I was accepted as a spring admit - Why? most likely because my 1890 SAT was a drag on their rankings.</p>

<p>I'm surprised that some are surprised their kid got wait listed at a Match school. A Match school is a realistic ballpark school, not a school you will likely be admitted to. It is more like a 50-50 chance. Some matches come through, some don't. A true safety sure bet school should definitely admit the kid. A match? Can't be counted on. </p>

<p>I agree with others that a student should put as much into his/her safety schools' applications and demonstration of interest as other schools. My D got into both her safety schools, which were still selective types of schools, and one with a large merit award. She put the same amount of effort into those apps as Ivy apps. Same with meeting professors and all the rest.</p>

<p>I agree with those who are saying that many of the schools that folks are calling "safeties" are not. Any school with a 27% accept rate like Tulane is not a safety. Tulane is a special case in that it was terribly hurt by Hurrican Katrina and in order to maintain its selectivity stats and rankings, it was offering some very nice merit awards to student. </p>

<p>I've always maintained that a safety is a school that will take you with nearly 100% certainty. Like the local colleges that may not even look at your school records. A safety is not just a school that is a sure bet given the family's ability to pay, and the students great stats. All that can be wiped out in the last few days of highschool or even summer by getting into trouble or some catastrophe occurring. I've seen it happen to friends of mine.</p>

<p>Ex husband refused to pay for college at the 11th hour. All of a sudden those safeties are no longer safeties because they won't cough up the necessary money. Very dear friend of mine ended up with that situation. Her daughter who got into some very select schools ended up at their local college, commuting and only got in there because they still had seats open that year. I had mentioned that she should send in an app their, and got the nose in the air. Well, had she done so, she would have gotten a full ride there, but when you're knocking on the door in the summer, wanting to get in, you're lucky to get a seat Her safety, was incredibly, NYU, and they had accepted her and given her the best financial aid package of all of her school, the only one that gave her fin aid, in fact, along with merit money, but evenn getting 50% of your NYU COA paid leaves a lot to pay.</p>

<p>I will repeat that my kids got accepted at several reaches and rejected at safeties, and I <em>am</em> talking about schools with high admissions rates (in one case 53%) and their stats were way above the median.</p>

<p>I think sometimes these folks just say something like, "this kid is not a good match with our population and would not do well here."</p>

<p>Sorry, but in general my kids got into the more selective colleges. That's just he way it was.</p>

<p>This may have had to do with money because they were also the need-blind colleges. I didn't understand that part of the process when we were applying. I do not.</p>

<p>I really don't think colleges line up neatly along the safety-match-reach spectrum.</p>

<p>I agree with mathmom that EA and rolling admissions make the best safeties, and thank goodness my D had a very, very early write from our most competitive state school to allay anxiety. But even that was strange. She got an early write, but some of the kids with even higher stats than hers didn't. We really could figure out our results at all.</p>

<p>The happy ending is that both kids got into their #1 choice schools with great FA packages, but it seems like we just stumbled on this ending. However, both kids were sort of the poster children for those schools and their applications reflected that.</p>

<p>
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Tulane is a special case in that it was terribly hurt by Hurrican Katrina and in order to maintain its selectivity stats and rankings, it was offering some very nice merit awards to student.

[/quote]
I don't think that is correct, cpt. The merit awards have essentially been no different before or after Katrina, though the dollar amounts of some of the merit awards have changed slightly, usually to adjust with tuition changes. I believe the only thing they did, and it was for maybe a year, was to offer a $3k housing allowance as an incentive.</p>

<p>As I am sure you know, Tulane's applications have jumped incredibly in the past 10 years. This year they had the most applications (almost 44,000) of any private university in the US. Katrina affected applications only one year, and it was 2 years after the storm (2007), not the very next year. The following year (2008) the applications jumped by 100%, from 17K to 34K. Not meaning to hijack the thread or go off topic-- just clarifying that the scholarship awards were not related to the storm or to keep rankings/selectivity. Heres the article from the school paper on the history of admissions since 2002 <a href="http://thehullabaloo.com/2010/04/23/tulane-sees-record-number-of-applications/%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://thehullabaloo.com/2010/04/23/tulane-sees-record-number-of-applications/&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>With regards to Tulane, though private, it functions as an in-state school for Louisiana students by assuring acceptance if a student meets certain criteria (that are below the national requirements for admission.) TU would be a good safety for in-state kids only (and that's assuming they met the requirements) unless they had great stats.</p>

<p>Tulane</a> Admission: Louisiana Applicants</p>

<p>What's a safety/likely also depends on the context of one's HS. In our area, kids coming out of the selective admit public HS programs do very well w/admissions and merit $$ at the flagship (39% overall acceptance rate in 2009, haven't heard this year's stats yet). 79% of last year's senior class at S2's school got into UMD (not everyone applied). The exceptions in prior years have been folks who didn't adhere to the Priority Deadline or who didn't respect the essays.</p>

<p>Naviance showed us that acceptance rates at a number of colleges for kids coming out of the specialized programs was 2-3x the college's official rate. Schools like American, URoch, BU, and Syracuse took 80+%.</p>

<p>
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I really don't think colleges line up neatly along the safety-match-reach spectrum...

[/quote]
</p>

<p>There are always going to be exceptions to rules but using the data available about the college and the student results in a fairly accurate line up. </p>

<p>Here in Texas, where the top 10% were accepted to the state university of their choice, those kids had a true safety schools which most are thrilled to attend (perhaps thats why I do not have a negative association with the term "safety school.") In fact, my son's safety school, UT, was the second highest ranked school that admitted him. </p>

<p>For students who are trying to get into a top 20 or top 100 college, a state flagship honors program may be a true safety school. For a few, their state flagship is too competitive to count on. It takes a lot of time to compile the data and sort through it but a reasonably accurate list of safety-match-reach can be made. The error I see most often on CC is not having a safety school or having one that the student is not excited about and instead assuming that matches are safety schools.</p>

<p>Even though my S had was above average in most schools he applied to, the only ones we considered as safety were state schools where we knew he would be admitted and would get good aid. For example my son was confident that he would get into University of Southern California (USC), I told him not to consider it as a safety but as match or good fit school. Once you get beyond a certain point, schools are no more safeties. I would say anything in the say USNWR top 50 should not be considered a safety unless it is a state school with guaranteed admission for in state students.</p>

<p>Even though most higher caliber students might not attend their "safety" school, some will. I just don't understand why colleges would waitlist or reject top candidates. Will the majority of the top notch candidates go somewhere else - yes, most likely. But with today's economy - offering a top notch kid a nice merit / FA package might just lean them to their safety.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I will repeat that my kids got accepted at several reaches and rejected at safeties, and I <em>am</em> talking about schools with high admissions rates (in one case 53%) and their stats were way above the median.

[/quote]
As I posted before, I wouldn't consider 53% admission rate a "safety". That's a "match". I posted that I would want to see at least a 65% admission rate, but for my own kids I put the bar even higher -- around 75%+. </p>

<p>I did make some adjustments based on demographics, if there is reliable published info. For example, because my d. had ELC status in California, I looked at the rate for ELC admits rather than overall percentage rate. But I remember very specifically that UC Berkeley had a 65% admit rate at the time for that category of applicant, and I never would have thought Berkeley was a "safety". It was a "match." She was in fact accepted, although as a spring admit. </p>

<p>I think far too many people look simply at test scores to figure out their chances -- and I think that's a gross misunderstanding and oversimplification of the way the schools use scores in admission decisions. Having scores in the top quartile will NOT make a school that admits 50% of its applicants into a "safety" - it just confirms the "match". (On the other hand, having scores in the bottom quartile may very well turn that 50%-accepting school into a reach). </p>

<p>At the same time -- there may be other factors that shift chances somewhat. For example, on paper NYU looked like a reach for my d. because of weak test scores, but she applied to Gallatin and because of the nature of the independent study proposal she submitted, I came to see NYU as much more of a match for her -- I was pretty sure she would get in, and she did, even though the admit rate for Gallatin was the same as for CAS. I couldn't put a science to it -- it was just a hunch based on looking at the Gallatin faculty and seeing a strong fit between the characteristics of the faculty and my daughter's interests and talents. Unfortunately NYU saw her as a match, too -- and because of the way they leverage their financial aid, we ended up with an unworkable package (NYU gives strong aid only to the very upper end of their admitted students).</p>

<p>If I had it to do all over again I would definitely research financial aid policies more carefully. My d. was accepted at one safety -- and out of state public -- that offered no aid whatsoever. (Had I done my research before she sent off the app, I would have seen clearly that the school could not offer grant aid to nonresident applicants). </p>

<p>Colleges that leverage their aid are not going to give strong packages to students they see as "matches" - they are using their aid money to entice the high end students away from more prestigious colleges. My d. was waitlisted at Boston U, which she and her g.c. had targeted as a strong match -- but Boston U. also publishes excellent data about how its aid correlates to incoming GPA and test scores, and so its very likely that they waitlisted her because they correctly anticipated that she would not come with the level of aid they would be able to offer.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I just don't understand why colleges would waitlist or reject top candidates. Will the majority of the top notch candidates go somewhere else - yes, most likely. But with today's economy - offering a top notch kid a nice merit / FA package might just lean them to their safety.

[/quote]
They need to protect their yield and build their class around students likely to attend. There are also top candidates who have factors that indicate a higher likelihood of attendance -- that's where demonstrated interest gets very important at the match/likely level. But many colleges use sophisticated enrollment management analysis to go far beyond that -- they may know from experience that students from a certain geographic area are more likely to attend, or that students interested in certain areas of study where they are strong are more likely to come. A student's EC's might give a strong signal -- does the kid ski? participate in equestrian sports? Those interests can often send a strong signal as to why a high stat kid is looking at particular schools and might favor them over more prestigious schools that don't offer the same opportunity to continue their sport.</p>

<p>I never do well when I debate with calmom, and even though she is a dear person and a dear friend we do it often.</p>

<p>Let me just say that we discovered that FA played a bigger role than test scores in acceptances. Had I known that in advance I would have crafted lists a little differently. It is a moot point because both my kids did get into their desired schools and had choices. However, if I understood how things worked, I would have steered them to slightly different selections.</p>

<p>I was surprised in my S's case that he was rejected from Bates but accepted at Amherst and Williams. All are need blind. I had only to conclude that Bates did not think he was a "match" for its student body. I had erroneously thought that its lower stats meant he would be easily be accepted there, but that was not the case. (Amherst and Williams both had acceptance rates of around 16% - 17% that year, whereas Bates' rate was 32%. The GPA's and test scores for AW were significantly higher than for Bates too. Now, I understand that Bates wasn't a safety, but he was accepted at Vassar and Wesleyan too. We included Bates because he thought he might be rejected at the other four and accepted at Bates. Instead, the opposite was true. We visited Bates and he had a successful interview there, so we were doubly surprised. His friend with slightly lower stats who had never visited the school at all was accepted.</p>

<p>Since he would not have attended over the school he chose, it makes no difference to outcomes. We just found it surprising.</p>

<p>Fit proved to be important, more important than we thought it would be, and by that I mean fit as judged by the adcoms. (Bates was not the only example, but I don't want to bore everyone with the specifics of my kids' admissions process.)</p>

<p>I should add that we were not looking at Bates as a safety. He already had two EA acceptances.</p>

<p>
[quote]
For a few, their state flagship is too competitive to count on.

[/quote]

In Michigan, this is true,. U Mich has a history of denying many well qualified students, including vals and those with perfect SATs.</p>

<p>However, applying early and receiving an early acceptance at UMich makes the rest of the application season much nicer!</p>

<p>
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Fit proved to be important, more important than we thought it would be, and by that I mean fit as judged by the adcoms.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I agree. Admissions is really ALL about fit- academic fit and non-academic fit. You need to find schools that are a good fit, then present yourself to the adcoms to showcase the fit with the specific school. After all, the main question the adcoms are asking is "does this person belong at our school?" Everything- transcript, standardized tests, essays, recommendations, extracurriculars- is examined with that question in mind.</p>

<p>Mythmom, I'd actually love to hear more about "fit" and how it worked in your case-- it would help me get a better fix on things.</p>

<p>So, from what I am reading, most of you believe that a safety is not a safety unless it is almost guaranteed or has a very high acceptance rate (well above 50%). And an applicant should treat the safety, showing interest and fit, as they would their reach and match.</p>

<p>I have several reactions to this--
-Essentially, safety really means open admission school, or as some of you have said--sure thing.
-Somebody better tell a lot of those kids on the Search and Selection forum.
-My kids were very lucky, because not one of them had a safety by the above definition standards. </p>

<p>I think my D was waitlisted because she did not show interest from the schools vantage point. We did not do a tour and she did not spend the night. That is because her brother attended the school and she did the tour when he did his, she visited him on several occasions and spent the night and we visited for various other occasions. She knew more about this school than any other she applied to. But, apparently the school did not know this. Of course, this was her, our, fault.</p>

<p>But, no problem, she got into another great school and will be graduating next weekend!</p>