Also called a “core” school, a target school is one that you really, really, really want to attend, and where your
stats match their admissions standards.
Signs that this could be one of your target schools: You’re DYING to go there. Your GPA falls within the school’s expectations. Your family’s house has the school’s mascot on the front lawn. (Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little alumni involvement. Consider the Bushes, the Kennedys, the Sopranos…)
Does your choice pass muster? If that’s the case, then you are looking at a target school. The majority of the schools on your list should fall in this category.
These are the schools you shouldn’t need to sweat about. Your target
schools should be places you really want to go, and the ones you should be
fairly confident you will be accepted into.
The key phrase here is fairlyconfident. There can be danger in
counting on the idea that you will get into one of these schools.
Remember, you may meet admissions requirements perfectly, but colleges are looking to admit a well-rounded class. This means the schools might already have plenty of students just like you, and will take a pass to admit others. It can be a totally random thing...admissions officers and their ilk can be a capricious bunch.
Bet on a school as a target if: You meet or exceed their
GPA, transcript, and standardized test score requirements, and the rest of your
application is strong.
Think about a reach school as that dream school. You know, the Princeton(Joel in Risky Business) or the Harvard (Elle Woods in Legally Blonde) that you
would love to attend.
Maybe you just don’t make the grade in one or two areas. Maybe your GPA and transcript are stellar, but you didn’t quite hit the mark onyour SAT. Or perhaps you rocked the ACT, but that one C- in freshman English
has your GPA hovering a bit below the standard.
just might get in. A strong application with the majority of requirements for
admission exceeding the mark, may make up for one area that falls short. You
might also fall in that demographic the school is looking for to round out
their freshman class (Southpaw gluten-free vegan from the Isle of Wight…).
Yourodds of being admitted aren’t great. You know, that’s why it’s not in your
target schools list.
If your grades and standardized test scores are below what the school must have (ridiculous or not), chances are that the college simplyhas enough qualified applicants who look better on paper than you. This isn’t
to say that you aren’t good enough for the college, or that the admitted
students are better than you in any way. Rather, it’s just a statement that the
college isn’t the best fit for you, one way or another. Sour grapes all around!
Bet on a School as a Reach
If: You fall
short in one area, but exceed the other requirements, and have a strong essay
and letters of recommendation. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and
doggone it, people like you.
A SAFETY school is what it sounds like: a school where you are very confident that—barring some sort of catastrophe—you are going to be accepted.
Your stats exceed all the requirements, and the subjective parts of your application will blow them away. This isn’t a “throw away” school, however. Make sure it is one you want to attend if need be.
You’re going to get in. And since you did your research, you would be
happy attending Community Fishing College of the Puget Sound (home of the
Plankton-Eating Killer Whales!) if it came down to that.
didn’t put in the research, and this school ends up being your only option and
it isn’t for you. Gap year (bring your shirt-folding skills), here we come…
Bet on a School as a Safety
If: You feel
very confident about your chances of getting accepted, you wouldn’t be
embarrassed to tell people about it, and you would genuinely enjoy attending