Options for attending a college that may be a reach school

If you’re planning to attend college, learn about your academic standing and consider applying to a college that may be a reach school.

There are high school seniors making plans after they graduate and some have plans to attend college. They may have a list or an idea of colleges they’re interested in, and they are taking the steps to apply to them. Along with their college applications, they will have their transcripts and other information needed to apply to the schools. Some students may have an understanding of where they stand related to their options for colleges based on their grades, ACT or SAT scores and extra-curricular activities.

What if you’re interested in a particular college, but you’re not sure if you have the qualifications to get accepted? You may be applying to a “reach school.” Jon Fortenbury’s article, “3 types of schools you should consider when applying to colleges,” gives a definition and explanation on a reach school according to the Princeton Review. It is one where your academic credentials fall below the school’s range for the average freshman; they are long shots, but should still be possible; and if you have a 2.0 GPA, Harvard is not a reach school – it’s a dream. He also gives reasons in Schools.com on why students should apply to reach schools, including the fact that you might get accepted, you give yourself a chance to eliminate regrets and to follow your dreams. There are advantages for applying to a reach school, but applying to reach schools can also be risky. Some of the risks applying to reach schools involve the availability of financial aid.

If you have applied to a reach school, make sure you have a back-up plan. The National Association for College Admission Counseling gives options for students for a back-up plan such as finding colleges with late openings, applying to a community college or maybe taking a year off of school.

As you decide to apply to colleges, take the time to learn of your academic standing and where you fit for the colleges you are interested in attending. From the information you receive, if any of the colleges you are interested in are reach schools, weigh the pros and cons for the application process. If you are accepted to a reach school, plan to follow up with the staff at the college or take a visit to the college to get more information to help you make a decision on attending the college of your choice.

Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development has career preparation resources available to help you pave the path to your future.

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