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The importance of choosing the right safety schools

As students are applying to college, they should take their time choosing their safety school(s). A safety school should be a college students can see themselves happily attending.
As students are applying to college, they should take their time choosing their safety school(s). A safety school should be a college students can see themselves happily attending.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Students applying to college are encouraged to choose a good mix of safety, target and reach schools. However, many students do not take the time to find the right safety schools to add to their list. Typically, students add a safety school because they think they have to, but never envision themselves at that particular college. The term "safety school" has received a bad reputation. Many students think of safety schools as the last resort, but they should not be seen this way. The definition of a safety school is one that is very like to admit a student. This does not mean the college is a poor choice with mediocre academic opportunities.

As college admission becomes more competitive, students should ensure they apply to colleges that they are likely to be admitted. While no one envisions being denied from any college, it is always a possibility as admissions committees continue to receive more and more applications every year. Therefore, students should choose the safety schools on their list just as they do the target and reach schools. Safety schools should be colleges that students can see themselves happily attending.

Before students apply to any college, including a safety school, they should research the college. A safety school should be a good match academically, socially and financially. Students should find colleges that meet their desires for a college, including size, location and program offerings. In addition, students should spend the time visiting a college campus to ensure they enjoy the atmosphere of the college and the surrounding community. The research and campus visit could turn a student's "safety" school into their top choice.

There is no shame in attending a safety school. Just because a college is “easier” to get into does not mean it is a poor choice. A recent Gallop poll suggests that it does not matter where a person attends college. The study suggests that a student’s life in college matters most, meaning their happiness and engagement at the college. Choosing a college is not just about names and prestige. Students need to find a college that is a good match for them. For some students, the best college for them could be a safety school. Therefore, whatever college a student chooses in the end, even if it is a safety school, should be one that the student will enjoy.

Students should take their time choosing safety schools. No one wants to settle for a college, but it can happen if students do not choose safety schools carefully. By settling on a college, a student can end up having an unhappy college experience. Instead, students should thoughtfully choose every college they apply to, including their safety schools.

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