Person icon

John P.

February 22, 2024


Mastering the Art of College Selection: Reach, Target, and Safety Explained – Crafting the Perfect Application List

 College of keywords for college application


Creating a well-balanced college application list is paramount in the realm of college admissions. This critical strategy involves categorizing schools into reach, target, and safety groups, ensuring a diversified application portfolio. This article delves into each category, offering insights to guide your strategic planning, focusing on the role of college counseling in optimizing your college selection process.

What is a Reach School?

Reach schools are institutions where your academic credentials are below the average admitted student's profile. While acceptance might be more challenging, it's within reach, especially with standout essays and extracurriculars. Admission consultants can provide valuable guidance on strengthening your application to these ambitious choices.

What is a Target School?

Target schools align closely with your academic achievements and test scores. Admission isn't guaranteed, but your chances are good with a strong application, including well-crafted essays and solid recommendations. Essay writing platforms like GoodGoblin can help polish your submissions to these schools.

What is a Safety School?

Safety schools are those where your academic credentials exceed the institution's average admissions standards, offering a high likelihood of acceptance. It's crucial, however, to choose safeties that match your educational and personal goals, ensuring a fit that feels right for you.

An individual at crossroads

Balancing Your College List

A balanced college list maximizes your admission chances across a spectrum of schools. With GoodGoblin's AI-powered tools, crafting and managing an extensive list becomes more manageable, allowing you to apply to a mix of reach, target, and safety schools effectively. Traditionally, the “2-2-2 rule” is suggested:

  • 2 reach schools
  • 2 target schools
  • 2 safety schools

However, with streamlined applications, we recommend the “5-10-5 rule”:

  • 5 reach schools – Pursue your dream institutions
  • 10 target schools – Schools matching your academic and personal profile
  • 5 safety schools – Secured options without compromising on fit


Strategically selecting colleges to apply to requires thorough research and reflection. Understanding the distinctions between reach, target, and safety schools lays the groundwork for a successful college application journey. With the support of college counseling and platforms like GoodGoblin, navigating this process becomes less daunting, opening doors to a future full of possibilities.