How to Make a Balanced College List: Reaches, Challenges and Safety Schools

Before applying to college, it is always recommended that you make a balanced list of institutions you feel are best for you. Some colleges may cater to your academic and personal interests but may not be the exact school environment that you had wished for. A balanced college list could therefore help you choose the college or university that would allow you to make the most of your four years.


Begin with Your Reach Schools

Reach schools offer you less than 30 percent chance of admittance and are harder for you to get accepted into if your credentials fall under the general range of students. Reach schools are not impossible to get into, but are usually longshots that are still worth aiming for. Whether the college expects a higher standardized test score or GPA than what you have, most schools review applications holistically. A balanced college list should consist of reaches because you never know what the future holds for you. The school you believed you wouldn’t get into may possibly be the school you’re attending in the fall.


Move Onto Your Challenge Schools

Challenge schools are more likely to offer you admission into their institution than reach schools but are still rather tricky to get accepted into. These schools should give you above a 30 percent chance of admittance and your academic credentials should be within the average range of students that were previously admitted. Challenge schools give you a reasonable chance of admittance and make you competitive for admission but are also not guaranteed. Your list of colleges should include challenge schools that cater to all of your interests, and liberal arts schools are usually the way to go.

Include Safety Schools!

Safety schools are colleges or universities that are essentially guaranteed to offer you admission because your credentials are well-above the average of what they expect. Safety schools are your backup plan just in case your reaches and challenges do not offer you admission. These institutions should not be underestimated however. You can definitely find safety schools that you love and would still be willing to attend in the future. A balanced college list should include the same number of schools that are easy to get into as schools that are more difficult to get into.