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What Are Safety Schools?

The college application process includes a lot of lingo that students may not understand intuitively. The terms match, reach, and safety schools come up especially often in the admissions process. You may be wondering, “What is a safety school”? In this article, we are going to break down what makes a college or university a safety school, and what makes them important. Let’s jump right in!

What is a safety school?

A safety school is a college or university where the applicant has a 75% chance or higher of being accepted. We determine this percentage based on the student’s academic record and other contributing factors. 

If a school has an acceptance rate of 20% or lower, it cannot be considered a safety school for anyone. Regardless of whether your academics perfectly align with what the school is looking for, the acceptance rate makes it more difficult.

Just a reminder, some college admissions professionals no longer use the word “safety.” This is because they want to remind students that there is never a school that you are sure to gain admission to. With this in mind, safety schools are also known as “likely” schools to many.

How many safety schools should I apply for?

We recommend applying for 3 to 4 safety schools when you are applying for colleges. Applying to a lot of colleges might seem overwhelming at first, but in the end, it gives you more options to choose from when receiving your letters of acceptance.  

Why should I apply to safety schools?

You should be applying to safety schools because you want to make sure that you have a wide variety of colleges and universities on your list to choose from. You also want to make sure that you have a few schools that you can fall back on, just in case things don’t go as planned academically or financially. 

Related: Missed a college deadline? Here are your options

How do I identify a safety school?

To start identifying a safety school, you first want to start by comparing your GPA and test scores to the average GPAs and test scores of admitted students of the schools on your list. This is an easy way to break your list down into the three categories- safety, match, and reach

Many smaller schools that offer a great deal of financial support are a great start to look at when thinking about your safety schools. A safety school is more than just about if you can get in academically–you also have to think about finance as well. There are also a great deal of state schools that have a high rate of admission, but this depends on what state you live in and which schools are around you. 

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Closing thoughts for students

A safety school is going to be different for every student that applies. One student’s safety school can be another student’s reach school– and that is completely okay. You want to find the college or university that is right for you, and the reason there are so many universities is because there is something for everyone!

Also see: How to find a financial safety school

Additional resources

At Scholarships360, we have tons of information that can help you prepare for the college admissions process. That includes guides on writing your Common App essays, improving your SAT score, and choosing your college.

And if you want to learn more about the various scholarships opportunities that you can apply for, you can check out our scholarship database to see what best matches you. Good luck on the rest of your college admissions process!

Don’t miss: How many colleges should I apply to?