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Target School List


The Search is On!

After you complete your Athletic and Academic Self-Assessments and have seeked feedback and advice from others, such as Coaches, Guidance Counselors, etc., you should have a pretty good idea of what level you may be able to compete at. If you haven’t heard me say it before, I’ll say it again….when building your target list of schools, academics should be the priority. In the event that you are not able to play your sport (for various reasons), you should be happy with the University you have selected.

You can start to build your target list of schools by using one of two approaches:

  1. The first is to go to the and use the tools listed to find out which schools offer your Sport, the level of competition, then research academic programs to see if there’s a match.
  2. The second is to find schools in a particular region, (maybe you want to stay in the Northeast), then look to see if a matching academic program. Either approach will lead you to the same conclusion, but academic considerations should be first and athletics second.

You can use the Targeted Schools List found in the Resources Section in the back of this book, or at or use your own spreadsheet. You should include 10-15 schools. The list should include 1/3 “reach”, 1/3 “safety”, and 1/3 “target” schools. Add notes to the list including Pros and Cons, personal connections you may have, have you attended a camp that the coach was working, or maybe you have a family member who played on the team in the past. Do more research on your top picks. Use the College Information Worksheet and College Ratings Sheet in the Resources Section of this Book. This will help you narrow down your top choices.

As we mentioned above, your list should include 1/3 of “reach”, 1/3 “safety”, and 1/3 “target” schools. Let’s talk about what they are.

We’ll start with safety schools. A safety school can generally be described as a school to which you have an 80% or above chance of admission. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t necessarily mean schools that have above an 80% or above acceptance rate. Rather, it means schools for which your test scores, GPA, and extracurricular accomplishments exceed those of the typical applicant by a significant amount.

A target school is a school at which you have between a 20% and 80% chance of admission, or in other words, a school where your profile is generally similar to that of the typical student athlete. Again, a “20% to 80% chance of admission” is relative – a target school will be very different for a student with a 4.0 and a student with a 2.0.

Finally, we’ll discuss the most infamous of the three: the reach school. Any school at which you have less than a 20% chance at acceptance should be considered a reach school. In most cases, this could be defined as schools where the profile of the average admit exceeds yours to some extent.

However, in some cases, even if your profile is equal to or even greater than that of the average admit, you should still consider the school a reach. This is true primarily for extremely competitive schools, such as top D1 programs and Ivy’s, these schools receive so many qualified applicants that even those who meet the standards get turned away. Consequently, even the most competitive applicants should consider any school with an acceptance rate less than 15% or so a reach school.

Regardless of which option you choose and tools you use, education should be the priority!

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