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How to Pick Safety Schools

How to Pick Safety Schools

You should aim for your dreams in the undergraduate application process, but you can’t be certain of anything. It's important to apply to at least one college or university where you're guaranteed acceptance.

These are known as safety schools and provide students with a backup plan in case they aren't accepted at more competitive options. Here’s how to choose a safety school.

Defining Safety Schools

A safety school is any college or university where you have an 80% chance or higher of being accepted. Although you can never be sure whether a school will admit you, compare your SAT or ACT scores and GPA to their student body average. You should be in the 75th percentile or above for a campus to be considered a safe bet.

Determining Your Options

Your safety schools are where you see yourself attending if you only were accepted there. For many applicants, these are public, in-state schools with higher acceptance rates and lower tuition costs.

Small or lesser-known private campuses also qualify as safety schools. If your dream is a liberal arts college in the northeast, consider others nearby or those with similar student body sizes. 

Finalizing a List of Safety Schools

Once you determine the profile of your ideal safety school, start making a list. Most students aim for at least one to three. More than three will detract from the time you spend on other competitive applications. 

Consult various rankings and make a note of tuition prices, as you don’t want to end up admitted to schools that are out of your budget.

Applying to Safety Schools

Fill out applications with as much effort as you'd spend on any other location. Admissions officers can tell when a student doesn't care about being accepted. Do your best work.

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