How to Build a College List (Part 1: Safety Schools)

When building college lists, applicants should always make sure to include safety schools when deciding which college essays to write. While personal pride may get in the way and applicants who may consider themselves “too good” for a particular school, such a mentality has come back to haunt overconfident applicants. Safety schools are what what round out the college essay process and can alleviate potential uncertainty; it’s essentially the final step for any intelligent applicant when building their college list. Applicants may even come to realize that some programs at their safety school are even more interesting and more relevant to them than those at their match or reach schools.

Almost every applicant hates how long the college essay takes for each of his or her schools. While 300-750 words doesn’t seem like much to write, the pressure of the situation often lead applicants to second guess themselves. This is why safety schools are so important to any applicant who actually has a good grasp of their admission chances. Regardless of how qualified an applicant may think he or she is, there will always be a chance of getting denied. Because of this, it’s a smart decision to have a few safety schools in case of something disastrous happens to give peace of mind to an applicant when applying. In addition, more times than not the college essay for these schools are just repeats of ones you had already done or in case of public systems like the UC’s, you literally just have to click another button.

When looking at what safety schools to add to one’s college lists, an applicant should make sure that, above all, it’s a program he or she is interested in. If the applicant is actually “overqualified” for the school, then he or she should try and get into the program that is of actual interest. This way, the college essay supplement for each school doesn’t need to be drafted from scratch but instead can be adapted from other supplements. However, the golden maxim of applying to safety schools is this. Take them seriously. Every school will have its own unique opportunities for its students and while some may have more than others, the ones those schools do have are not be overlooked. In addition, rankings aren’t everything, and the number does not directly correlate to how successful a student’s college and  career will be.

College lists are a daunting tasks, but adding in safety schools and putting in the effort on the respective college essays is a great way to ease those application butterflies. By doing research, applicants not only get a broader landscape of the programs they’re interested in, but also they may actually be interested in the program that opens another university that they would want to attend. College admissions chances are never concrete, so it’s essential for any student to make sure they have the supposed “safety net” of schools that they have a genuine want to go to.

Questions? Let us know!