Include safety schools on potential college list | College Connection

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College-bound students, in New Jersey and across the country, are finding that gaining admission to the most desirable colleges has grown increasingly competitive in recent years.

Even students with near-perfect SAT scores, weighted GPAs exceeding 4.0, and a multitude of Advanced Placement courses are finding it extremely challenging to secure a “You’re Accepted” email from the top echelon of schools.

Recent statistics from U.S. News & World Report show that the acceptance rate at the vast majority of the “Top 100” most selective colleges was at or below 25%. Included were such popular schools as New York, Boston, Northeastern, Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon, and Duke universities. Not surprisingly, the Ivy League schools had single-digit acceptance rates, with the exception of Cornell University at 11%.

The lesson to be learned from these grim statistics is that high school students need to include “safety schools” on their list of potential colleges. These are colleges to which a student would expect to be accepted, based on a comparison of their GPA and SAT scores with those of accepted students in previous years. High school students should utilize Naviance, or whatever software their school is utilizing, to compare their academic statistics with those of previous students from their high school who applied to any particular college. It will show the number of students who were accepted and rejected, and how their SAT scores and GPA compared.

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Of course, a safety school for one student might be a reach, stretch, or dream school for another. Also, admission rates fail to reveal the institutional priorities of any school. Some public universities admit in-state students at a much higher rate than out-of-state students, like University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Some universities have very different admission criteria for recruited athletes, or for first generation college applications, or for legacy students.

Students should only apply to colleges, safety or otherwise, that they would be happy to attend. At times, the safety school ends up being the college of choice, even when students are accepted to more competitive schools. Often, students are offered substantial scholarship money by their safety schools, which are impressed with their academic record. Other times, they are invited into the honors program at their safety school, which would not be an option at a more competitive college.

The best strategy may be to apply to desirable safety schools via early action or rolling admission, if offered. Then, students will likely have some acceptances in hand, reducing anxiety while awaiting word from their highly competitive dream schools.

Susan Alaimo is the founder and director of Collegebound Review that, for the past 25 years, has offered PSAT/SAT® preparation, essay editing, and private college advising by Ivy League educated instructors. Visit CollegeboundReview.com or call 908-369-5362

This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Include safety schools on potential college list | College Connection

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