There is no such thing as a safety school anymore. Acceptance rates at some of today’s most selective institutions used to admit far greater percentages of applications back in the 1970s and 80s. But with so many students applying to college today, admission offices have the luxury of being ultra-choosy. And, thanks in large part to the powerful rankings game perpetuated by US News & World Report, colleges don’t want to “waste” an acceptance on a student who isn’t likely to enroll. That’s why you’ve likely heard stories about amazing students – valedictorians, student body presidents, basketball captains, and so forth – getting deferred or waitlisted from their perceived “safety” schools. But just because college admissions decisions appear unpredictable doesn’t mean that well-meaning students can’t find solace in a thoughtfully researched and realistic college list. To maximize your chances of getting into the less selective colleges on your list, keep the following tips in mind: (1) Demonstrate interest in all schools on your list. (2) Consider applying to a less selective major. And (3) Apply to colleges where your stats are well above average. For more information on safety schools and how to succeed in this more competitive college landscape, check out the latest post on the Insider blog at blog.getintocollege.com.
Call them what you may – likely, foundation, strong possibility, or no problem colleges – there is no such thing as a safety school anymore. Most students consider a “safety” (a term, it should be known, that colleges themselves universally find distasteful) to be a school that nearly guarantees them admission. In other words, the students’ grades, rigor, and test scores place them so far above the typical admitted student, that gaining admission into those particular colleges seems to be a sure thing, a slam dunk. But as someone who – for the past 13 years – has diligently created lists of best fit colleges for high school seniors, I know that the days of feeling secure in a safety school are long gone.