Safety schools not so safety any more

February 12, 2009

By J.D. Wyczalek (why-zall-ick)Sorry but you missed the deadline, sorry we don't have any aid to give out, sorry the program you wanted has been eliminated, sorry the campus you want to attend is closed, sorry the scholarship programs have been eliminated. -- These sad words are what many hopeful college bound kids will hear.

Budget cuts result in programs being slashed, reduced or down right cut. While promises have been made to current college students the future is still uncertain.

Waiting until the senior year of high school to start the college admission road may find these students on the sidelines wondering what happened. You have probably heard the proverb that there are three kinds of people: Those who take action, those who watch while the action takes place, those who wonder what just happened.

Now in this day and age it is even more important to learn the intricacies of college admission and financial aid as well as starting the college journey early, preferably as a high school freshman - sophomore.

State colleges may have been considered safety schools. A "safety school" is a college that students are sure they'll get into and would prefer not to attend. The best way to hedge your odds is to apply to a select handful of colleges.

Many counselors agree to apply to Reach Colleges, Safety Schools, and Good Match colleges. I disagree. A reach college is a school in which the student may or may not be admitted. You should apply to safety and good match colleges to hedge your odds of being admitted. Throw in a few private colleges as well as public colleges to add flavor. All the while research the college's historical financial aid policies to ensure scholarships.

Not having a financial college plan or just winging it is a recipe for disaster. Start now.

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