Preparing for Mediocrity: The Myth of the Safety School

Is It Really Safe?

When it comes to college, you are not entitled to anything. What makes you think your safety school is safe? Do you study with one of the faculty? Is it close to home? Did your band director go there? While these things may help, none of them is a guarantee. Admissions decisions are based on academic records, auditions and little else. If you decide to apply to a school you consider a safety school, you will be required to work just as hard to prepare the application and audition.

Is It Really Mediocre?

I live in a University town. Very few locals want to attend Illinois. It’s too close to home, their parents are on the faculty or its just too familiar. The truth, however, is that Illinois is a Big 10 University with some of the top programs in the nation. I’m not saying that you need to stay close to home, but you should closely examine your reasons for not considering a school.

Preparing for Excellence

When I was looking for schools, I considered a wide variety of schools. I ended up attending a very small school with a good, but not great, music program (it didn’t even require an audition!) This is not my recommendation to everyone, but if I had written it off early in the process, I never would have had the great experiences I had.

Here is what you should do now:

  • Make a list of schools you are considering
  • Circle the ones that you consider a safety school
  • Make a list of why you think that is the case
  • Do some research
  • If, after honestly examining it, you still think it’s a safety school, cross it off your list
  • Pour yourself into your other applications

I’d be curious to know what the rest of you think. Leave comments below.


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