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01/18/2020 at 07:28PM[edited]

What do I do if my chances are pretty low for a lot of schools on my list?

All of my favorite schools have below a 40% chance of me getting in. I know that a lot of them are competitive schools, but I don’t know what I should do now. Leave them on my list and risk it? Add more schools?

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5 answers

01/18/2020 at 11:02PM

Assuming your schools are competitive, a 40% chance of getting in is actually pretty good. Like if the average acceptance rate for a school is 10%, then 40% is actually 4x higher than average.

Although, you definitely should have a balance of reach, target, and safety schools on your list. Anything below 40% is basically reach category. You could try to add some target schools (maybe 2-4) where you have 40-70%, and also a few safety schools where you have close to a 100% chance of getting accepted. This way you don’t end up in a situation where you get into literally no schools, which happened to a girl in the grade above me. The school list thing here is pretty good at showing you schools based on your chances that you can add to your school list.

Accepted Answer
01/19/2020 at 05:08PM

I really agree with trackmaster82. Remember that you're applying to a bunch of schools and so those probabilities across like 8 schools can yield a few acceptances (statistics ftw!). Also remember that there is some randomness in the decision (like if an AO is having a bad day or just doesn't like your essay) -- you'll never see over like 60% chances for very competitive schools individually for that reason (but again, across a few schools that randomness can cancel out). Good luck!!!

[🎤 AUTHOR]@timr72002/07/2020 at 05:24PM

Thanks @zpx3! The reminder that there is some randomness makes me feel less like it's my fault if and when I don't get in to some schools.

02/25/2020 at 01:18AM

Have a good mix of competetive schools, and maybe choose around 3 safety schools that you'd feel comfortable applying to. I'm using myself as an example. So I would apply to

Reach schools:

UC Berkeley


Target Schools





Safety Schools:



Make sure you actually would want to go to your safety school picks. They don't have to be your top 5, but just make sure you're comfortable with them.

Here is the thing to remember: If you apply to a bunch of schools and chances like 40%, then like @trackmaster82 said, you can probably have a very good chance of getting in.

[🎤 AUTHOR]@timr72003/04/2020 at 07:44PM

Thank you so much @isaac!! This was really helpful. I decided to add 2 safety schools like you did (different schools though haha)

01/21/2020 at 04:56PM

I am applying to a range of safety schools, target schools, and two very unlikely schools (USC and Duke University). It is nearly impossible for me to get into those two schools, but I figure that I'll try to get in. What do I have to lose? (Besides $80 dollars an application, some of my remaining sanity, and several hours of my time...)

[🎤 AUTHOR]@timr72002/07/2020 at 05:26PM

Thanks @Kaitlyn! It's nice to know that you are also applying to some schools that are challenging. I will balance out my list a bit more like you did! Good luck and I hope not all your sanity is lost :)

02/18/2020 at 02:02PM

I'd try adding a nearby school like Iowa if you are a desmoines resident in iowa so you'd be accepted into more than 1 school

[🎤 AUTHOR]@timr72003/04/2020 at 07:47PM

Thanks @DebaterMAX! That's a good point. I'm not from Iowa, so I didn't add Iowa, but I did add one school that's 2hrs away from my home.