What is a Safety School and How Many Should You Apply To?

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Applying to colleges is a physically long and mentally taxing process, especially if you are sensitive to rejection. It especially stings to have the college you wanted to join reject you for one reason or another. It would be very comforting to know that there is a college you will not have difficulty getting into at all. Thankfully, these schools exist: they are known as safety schools.

But what is a safety school? What makes a college a safety school? How many times can and should you apply for safety schools? You are in the right place now that you have found this article.

What is a Safety School?What is a Safety School?

So many students struggle with whether they can get into the school of their choice. That’s why we have “safety schools.” Safety schools are colleges you have a very high chance of getting into. This is typically based on the college’s acceptance rate, but how well a student’s qualifications go can also be determined by what makes a safety school. For example, according to Cappex, if you take a college with an average GPA below your own, then you can consider that a safety school. If you have a 3.8 GPA, then a college with an average GPA of 3.2 is considered a safety school. GPA matters a lot in admission and having a higher-than-average GPA makes your chances much better. The same goes for the student’s SAT and ACT scores.

By contrast, a reach school is a college with a 30% or less chance of entry and a match school is a college you feel confident in being accepted in, despite not being as definitive as a safety school.

Safety schools are a consideration for students wanting to get into college. Having a safety school in mind is great in a competitive field like college. For starters, it means you have a good chance of getting into a college and working up to your degree. This is a great boon if you are not concerned with what particular college you get into. Safety schools typically have lower tuition and general costs due to their less selective nature. It would be best to apply to as many ” safety schools” as possible. Though, there could be disappointment in knowing that the college you want to attend isn’t one of these safety schools.

Nevertheless, understanding the concept of safety schools is incredibly important when going through the admissions process. There are many benefits to safety schools. But why, exactly, are safety schools important in college admissions?

Why Having Safety Schools is Important in College Admissions?

Why Having Safety Schools is Important in College Admissions?

Why is having safety schools important in college admissions? The simplest reason is that a person who wants to go to college should have one or any lined up for their future. It can be disheartening to be rejected time and time again from the college you wanted to go through, and that feeling gets worse the more colleges you apply to. At a certain point, typically when your best choice in colleges becomes unavailable, you want to have the insurance that you will be able to get your major at all.

With safety schools, however, you have that safety net, the assurance that you can land in some college. Even if every other college doesn’t hand in their acceptance letter, the safety school will. Safety schools are also very important in gauging why some colleges are easier with admission than others. These differences can involve many factors, such as the cost of the school, how many people apply in the first place, the college’s prestige, and so on. In any case, comparing safety schools to more competitive colleges can make the reason why colleges are competitive more pronounced.

There are many safety schools to choose from. But how many safety schools should you apply to? Is there any reason your application list shouldn’t include all of them?

How Many Safety Schools Should You Apply To?

How Many Safety Schools Should You Apply To?

This may not be evident to many students, who are too busy agonizing over their ideal dream college, but you can apply to multiple colleges at once. Though some colleges actually discourage this, especially when looking for safety schools, applying to many colleges at once is a great idea. This decision will increase your chances of getting into a college. But how many safety schools should you apply to? Is there a limit?

First, is there an issue with applying to too many safety schools? There is, in fact. When you’ve applied to too many safety schools, while you guarantee that you get into some college by the end of your efforts, it only distracts you from the more competitive colleges you wish to attend. If you are fine with the safety schools you applied for, there is no limitation. However, if you want to aim for something riskier, all that extra effort should be put into colleges that are harder to accept.

With all of this in mind, how many safety schools should you apply to? A student should apply to at least two safety schools. Two is a solid number that does not take much time or effort from your applications to more competitive colleges. Three is the maximum a student should apply for if they still have more competitive colleges in mind.

What Colleges are Ideal for Safety Schools?

What Colleges are Ideal for Safety Schools?

We have talked so much about safety schools but have not properly explained what makes a college one. Earlier, we did state that a high acceptance rate is the mark of a safety school, but that is not the only factor. Properly identifying a safety school, in fact, is more complex than you would think.

One thing to note is that while you can safely categorize any college with an 80% acceptance rate as a safety school, the category is variable. You can consider a college like the University of Kansas and Santa Barbara City College, which have a 90% and 100% acceptance rate respectively, safety schools if you feel that other factors help make that a greater chance for you.

However, colleges with a 15% acceptance rate or less cannot reasonably be considered safety schools: those chances are far too low. If you plan to make an Ivy League college or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—which has a staggering 4% acceptance rate—your safety school, please reconsider. Getting accepted into such a school will always be a struggle, even if you have incredibly good scores. That is not to say that it is impossible to get into such a college; it is just not a college you would consider a safety school.

Another aspect of safety schools is the admission process. Some colleges, such as the University of California Merced and the University of Arizona, offer automatic admission if a student’s GPA and SAT or ACT score is greater than a certain amount; it’s as if to say, “You are definitely qualified for our college; you won’t need to worry about it.”

How to Choose a Safety School: 3 Things to Consider

How to Choose a Safety School: 3 Things to Consider

When looking for a safety school, there are many things to consider beforehand. But what do you consider? What do you look for or keep in mind when looking for your safety schools? We are here to make things easier with three tips you should remember. These tips do not encompass the entirety of the decision-making involved with choosing your safety school; these tips do help with the general process and keeping your choices consistent and worth remembering.

Comparing Scores and Averages

The most straightforward way to find your safety schools is to assess the acceptance rate and compare your GPA and SAT or SAT scores with the colleges’ averages. This requires specific research into the college—but if you were already comparing its numbers, then you surely wouldn’t mind putting research into it. As we’ve mentioned before, some colleges have automatic admission programs if a student has a GPA or SAT/ACT score above a certain threshold.

If your chosen school has an acceptance rate of 80% or higher and/or your GPA and other test scores are well above the average, you have found yourself a safety school.

The PrepScholar College Acceptance Calculator

PrepScholar has a tool students can use to find their possible safety schools by entering their SAT scores. Through their college acceptance calculator, you can instantly know whether you can consider any college a safety school.

Proximity to Colleges

It is possible to apply to any college in the United States, but this becomes unfeasible for a simple reason: you need to get to the college if you actually get accepted there! Not only that, but you also have to worry about the differing costs in tuition between in-state and out-of-state colleges. Some colleges will flat-out refuse applicants if they do not live in the state.

To summarize, it is important to consider how you will be able to get to college. If it’s not a college you can reasonably get to, live in, or commune, then it is not much of a safety school for all intents and purposes!

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Safety School and How Many Should You Apply To?

What is a safety school? Safety schools are easy and comfortable choices for colleges that guarantee that you will be able to pursue your college education. They may not be the best colleges in the country, but they are some of the most accepting and are not bad choices in the slightest! The only limit to the number of safety schools you should apply to depends on how competitive your dream colleges are. All in all, with safety schools, you no longer have to worry about whether you’ll be able to get into college at all!

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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