Reach, Match, and Safety Schools: What Each Option Means for You

Dividing colleges into three categories can help you narrow down your choices

Reach, Match, and Safety Schools: What Each Option Means for You

Navigating the college application process can be an overwhelming and trying time. With the abundance of schools to choose from, dividing prospective colleges into three categories—reach, safety, and match schools—can be beneficial when narrowing down your choices. In order to determine which category a particular school falls into, identify where your GPA and standardized test scores align with the various prospective programs.

When looking at potential colleges, it’s key to fully assess how each school fits your goals. Keep reading to learn what reach, safety, and match schools mean for you.

Reach schools
Reach, or dream schools, check off all of your requirement boxes. Your academic statistics, however, may fall a bit below the school’s average numbers. If you find yourself within a reasonable range of the average statistics of an admitted student, then the school can fall under your reach schools column.

However, it’s important to be realistic when selecting your reach schools. If you would love to attend a school, but know it’s likely too long of a shot at acceptance, then you may want to steer clear of applying. It can be beneficial to avoid unnecessary application fees, as well as to choose schools you have the highest chances of excelling at academically. If your academic credentials don’t closely align with a particular school’s requirements, upon acceptance, you may find yourself struggling with coursework. Honestly analyze your dream schools in order to establish the most succinct list possible.

Match schools
Admitted students at match schools have GPAs and test scores that are similar to yours. These schools offer you a good chance of acceptance and align closely with your academic, extracurricular, and budgetary interests. When selecting match schools, first identify your academic interests. Even if you aren’t set on a major area of study yet, you likely have an idea of the subject you’d like to focus on. Research each school’s offerings in these areas, narrowing down your list to a few that closely fit with your goals. Additionally, it’s important to look at other factors—such as extracurriculars offered, tuition costs, and location.

Safety schools
Safety schools offer you a high chance of acceptance based off of your academic profile surpassing the average statistics of accepted students. While these schools may not be your first choice, it’s important to select programs that you can envision yourself attending. As with all schools you apply to, be sure the institution’s offerings coincide with your college goals—including courses and departments offered, extracurriculars available, and location relative to your hometown. Take time to join a campus tour in order to learn if the size and atmosphere of the school sparks your interest and feels like a fit for you.

When tackling the college search process, it can be beneficial to closely analyze each school you’re interested in. Separating schools into three categories—reach, match, and safety—can help you more closely examine how each school fits with your academic and personal goals. During this process, be honest about what you need out of a prospective school and how each school on your list would meet these requirements. is the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.


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