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Reach, Fit, and Safety Simplified

Finding a college is more than watching where your friends and neighbors’ children go to school. Take your sophomore or junior to a college fair and/or search online for the perfect college match for your student. Once you have some possibilities, visit the college in person. Visiting is the only way to see if it’s a perfect match. Try to whittle down the list to a handful of colleges by the end of junior year. When you visit, ask about their homeschool admission policy. Find out what records they want from you, and any additional testing requirements. When your high school junior is applying for colleges, it's a good idea to look at three different kinds of colleges; REACH, FIT and SAFETY.


By the end of junior year, make a list of four to eight colleges where your child will apply, including both public and private colleges. Choose a mix of reach, fit, and safety universities. A "reach" school has higher average test scores than your child’s, but they meet the college requirements. Be careful, though, because all Ivy League and military academies are reach schools, no matter how high your child’s scores might be. A "fit" college score is about the same as your child’s score, and they meet the college requirements. A "safety" school means your child’s test scores are higher than the college scores, and they exceed the college requirements.

Here is how you do it.

  1. Look at your SAT or ACT score.  If you took the PSAT, you can estimate your SAT score from the results.
  2. Research the colleges you are considering.  Find the colleges average SAT or ACT score.
  3. Compare your score to the college score
  4. Choose some "reach" school.  The college has a higher score than yours, but you meet the college requirements.  All Ivy League and military academies are reach schools, no matter how high your scores might be.
  5. Choose some "fit" schools.  The college score is about the same as your score, and you meet the college requirements.
  6. Choose some "safety" schools.  Your score is higher than the college scores, and you exceed the college requirements.


Applying for reach, fit, and safety colleges can help prevent heartache.  When you apply for a variety of schools, you're almost sure to find a perfect fit that will accept you, and may provide great scholarships.
It's common for children to apply for 4-12 colleges, with a mix of reach, fit, and safety schools.  Although it's a  common suggestion, but it doesn't fit every family.

There are 9 easy steps you can take in preparing for high school graduation and in preparing for college. Read my artile, 9 Easy Steps: High School Graduation Checklist to find out how prepared you are for finding a college you'll love.

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Thursday, 22 April 2021

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