Reach, Match/Range & Safety Schools
There are a number of facets to consider when deciding where you want to apply to college. Does it have a strong accounting program? Will you be able to play water polo? Does the school offer good financial aid packages? Is the cafeteria capable of serving a decent burger? These are all important (even vital) questions. However, you should also be asking yourself if a particular college is a reach, a match or a safety school?
Match Schools: A match school is one in which your transcript mirrors that of the average freshman. Therefore, your GPA, SAT/ACT scores and coursework (college prep, honors, etc.) are all on par with those undergrads typically admitted. While this will not guarantee an acceptance (especially considering that extracurricular activities, essays, etc. will come into play), you can apply with confidence and the understanding that you have a great shot.
Reach Schools: Unlike a match, reach schools are colleges where your academic qualifications are below the average accepted student. When considering a reach school, it’s still important to be realistic. It’s quite unlikely you would gain entry to an Ivy League university with a 1.5 GPA. However, even if your SATs might be 100 points lower than average or you have a 3.4 GPA instead of a 3.8, if you really like the school, throw your hat into the ring. You never know what will happen. It could be a long shot but an admissions officer might just see your potential.
Safety Schools: As you’ve probably deduced by now, a safety school is one in which your academic credentials exceed those of the average accepted student. Consequently, there is a high probability that you will be admitted (though it’s important to recognize that nothing is certain).
There are no assurances or absolutes when it comes to college admissions. Shocking rejections and unexpected acceptances are all too commonplace in the murky and complicated world of higher education. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should throw up your hands in resignation and wait for fate to take its course. It just signifies that you should be strategic about how and where you apply. To that point, we recommend having a few schools from each category on your list. This will allow you to both hedge your bets and leave open the possibility that you can exceed your own expectations. Lastly, regardless of whether a school is a reach, match or safety, make sure it’s someplace you would be happy to attend. If not, why are you applying there?
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY
The CSU, with 23 campuses is a leader in supplying graduates with the necessary technical and personal skills to be successful in the working world. Visit https://www2.calstate.edu/apply for admissions requirements, deadlines, and the application.
The minimum requirements for admission as a freshman are:
Completing specific high school A-G approved courses, with a "C" or better
Meeting minimum eligibility determined by an index that combines GPA with test scores (ACT or SAT, excluding writing).*Note: Meeting the minimum eligibility requirement does not guarantee admission. Some programs/campuses may establish a higher index which is not published prior to applying.
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
The UC system is among the world's greatest research universities with 10 campuses across California. Visit www.universityofcalifornia.edu for admissions requirements, deadlines, and the application.
Students must have a GPA of 3.0 or above in all UC approved coursework. You can easily calculate your eligibility for UC by using the interactive eligibility calculator available online at admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/freshman. Most UC campuses receive more applicants than they have room for, so they use a comprehensive review process to determine admission.
*Note: Although SAT Subject Tests are no longer required for admission, scores can still be submitted, and are sometimes recommended by certain campuses or programs.
Personal Insight Questions
PRIVATE COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES
There are hundreds of private colleges and universities from which to choose. There are 63 independent undergraduate colleges and universities in California alone. Private colleges and universities are quite diverse in nature, including research universities, small liberal arts colleges, faith-based colleges and universities, and specialized colleges.
The cost is higher than public colleges and universities. However, these institutions have a variety of financial aid programs that often make the cost comparable to a public institution. Your ability to graduate in 4 years at a private institution may be greater than at a public institution due to more courses being available to you as a student there.
Some independent institutions, such as USC, Stanford, and California Institute of Technology, are highly selective. Other universities are less selective in nature. Visit their websites for specific admission information. Transfer to a private college is possible after your freshman year at a community college or other institution.
Many schools take applications through the Common App.
*There are also numerous out-of-state public colleges and universities that are great options as well.