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What Are Match Schools?

When applying for colleges, there are many terms that college admissions advisors use that you might not completely understand yet. We are here to help you better understand these terms! So, “what is a match school”? Let’s dive into what that means and why you should be familiar with them!

What is a match school?

A match school is a college or university in which your academics fit the criteria for a candidate of admission. Although a match school may or may not be a student’s first choice, they have a very good chance of acceptance. A match school is sometimes also called a “target school”, because some admissions professionals feel that saying “match” makes a school seem easy to get into. This is not the case, because of the highly competitive environment of all colleges and universities. 

To identify a match school, it is first important to understand what a reach school is. A reach school is, in short, a school that a student has a low probability of getting into. Once you have identified which schools on your list are reach schools for you, it will be easier for you to see which schools are match schools. These should be schools that you really want to attend, but would not be as difficult for you as one of your reach schools. 

Related: How to choose a college

How many match schools should I apply for?

You should apply for three or four match schools, depending on how many colleges you are applying to in general. You want to make sure that you have options when it comes to which one you could potentially choose– but, you also don’t want only match schools filling up your list of applications. 

Students can apply for as many colleges as you would like to, but you also have to keep in mind the cost of college applications and the time spent filling them out. Not every college application is a part of the Common Application. 

Why should I apply to match schools?

You should apply for a few match schools because it is important to have colleges that you have a great chance of getting into on your list. Obviously you want to have a few reach schools and likely schools as well, to make sure that you have an array of schools to choose from. You want to challenge yourself, make sure you feel comfortable, and make sure that you have something to fall back on. 

If I don’t get into my match schools, should I apply again next year?

Yes, you should if it is a school that you really enjoyed and could see yourself at. If not, look at your options and assess how you feel about those colleges. It’s always worth submitting another application if you feel that this school is one that you really want to attend. 

Don’t forget, you should also be applying to likely schools, as well. This means that if you didn’t get into your reach or match schools, you should have a few more options to pick from. If you decide you really do not want to go to the likely schools you got into, or that you are able to defer for a year to try again, re-applying is always an option. 

Final thoughts for students

Match schools are important for students in their college application process. When applying for your match schools, you want to look for schools that are less competitive in nature than that of your reach schools to give yourself a distinction between the three categories of schools. 

Additional resources

If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed in your college application process, that is completely understandable. That is why Scholarships360 has prepared tons of resources for students to help this time feel a little less stressful. Learning more about what colleges want to see on a college application, or how to complete the various sections of the Common Application does not have to be difficult.  

We can also guide you through getting letters of recommendation, deciding how many colleges to apply to, and improving your SAT score. And don’t forget to fill out the FAFSA and/or the CSS Profile in order to be eligible for financial aid! Best of luck on your applications!