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  • Debra M. Shively

Your target, reach and safety list

As the application deadline for US universities approaches I wanted to take this opportunity to remind students to apply to an array of academically competitive institutions, often referred to as target, reach and safety institutions.

When determining which institution(s) to include in your short list, ensure you review the respective admission statistics of the most recent freshman class. This can act as a guide in determining which institutions you are most likely to be offered a place based on your application credentials. These credentials usually include the average test scores, GPA, and sometime rank and it is presumed the other components of your application (essays and recommendations) are strong. Use these statistics to nominate your target uni, reach uni, or safety uni. So what does this mean?

Target universities/colleges - A target university/college is one in which your academic credentials (test scores and GPA) fall within the range or often exceed those of the previous freshman class. It is not a guarantee that you will be offered a place in the class but based on previous years statistics of admitted students the chances are high. The majority of the institutions you anticipate applying to should fall within this range.

Reach universities/colleges - A reach university/college is one in which your academic credentials (test scores and GPA) fall at the latter end or below the average of those in the freshman class. The admission team will be looking for alternative attributes in your application to compensate for scoring below the average student on your test score or academic standing. These institutions should be realistic rather than too ambitious as you can expect to be offered a place in some of the reach institutions of which you have applied.

Safety universities/colleges - A safety university/college is one in which your academic credentials fall above the range of the average freshman most recently admitted and your supporting application components are equally as strong. These institutions should not be arbitrarily nominated but rather you should have a desire to attend in the event your applications to your target and reach institutions are not successful.

You should aim to apply to at least two institutions within each category. With over 4,000 degree granting institutions in the US this elimination process will require some serious consideration and research to ensure you are applying to the best fit institutions based on your unique academic and extracurricular credentials. Internationally Educated welcomes the opportunity to work in identifying these institutions for you and guiding you through the complex US application process.

Year 11 students should reach out in term one of 2016 to secure your place. Please contact us here.

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