A safety school is a college where you’re convinced you’ll be accepted to. If for some horrible reason all of your other schools turn you down, you can count on your safety school to accept you, so at least you’ll have someplace to go.
Depending on how good your high school resume is, how selective the schools you picked are, and how many colleges you’ve applied to, you’ll almost definitely get into a school that’s better than your safety school. But it’s good to have a fallback option.
Unfortunately, a lot of students don’t put much thought into choosing a safety school and just pick the nearest college that they are all but guaranteed into. This is actually a bad idea because if you do end up going there, there’s a good chance you won’t like it.
#1: DOES IT HAVE MY CURRENT MAJOR?
Just because your safety school is your fallback option doesn’t mean you should forget about this. In the unlikely event that you do end up at your safety school, you won’t necessarily want to change majors, so you should check to make sure the school offers majors for your interest(s) before applying.
In fact, when looking for safety schools, you can afford to be a bit more choosy. Check around online to see if the school offers what you currently plan on majoring in. If it doesn’t, move on.
#2: HOW LIKELY AM I TO GET IN?
It’s not too tough to get an idea of whether or not you’re likely to be accepted, but if you’re not sure how you stack up, you might try MyChances.net and CollegeBoard.com to see how you compare to current students. If you’re above the average, then you probably have nothing to worry about.
#3: IS IT A SCHOOL I’D ACTUALLY LIKE TO GO TO?
Research the college online to find out what you can. Is the social life bad? Are the professors awful? Is the nearby town boring? Again, you can afford to be more choosy, so take advantage of this to find a school that still feels right to you.