Reach, Match, and Solid

Having trouble organizing your college list? Need help understanding what a Reach, Match, or Solid school is? Check out this post…

Midyear Check-in PP

REACH: A school with high barriers. Maybe it’s super expensive, or far away, or it’s average accepted test scores are higher than your current ones. It could be a dream school, or just a college you’d be happy to attend.
MATCH: A school with medium-to-low barriers. Maybe it’s expensive, but you meet the average requirements to get in. Or maybe it’s the perfect school for you, but you’re family is worried about how far away it is. No matter the reasons, a Match school should be a reasonable school you’d be happy to attend.
SOLID: A school with little-to-no barriers! This may be a school that automatically accepts people when they’ve met certain requirements, like Bellevue College or Central Washington University. It could be a backup school, or just a school you feel very confident would accept you. Either way, if you were accepted you’d be happy to attend this school.

FOR EXAMPLE… Let’s say Erin is trying to decide how to organize her college list. She’s interested in Bellevue College, Central Washington U, UW-Seattle, Western Washington U, and Harvard. Based on statistics alone, she wants to determine which schools would be a Reach, a Match, or a Solid for her.

Here are Erin’s current test/GPA statistics — GPA: 3.2 | SAT: 1010

How would you assign Erin’s college list? Take a look at the average admission information below for each school (from 2016).


Automatically accepts students that have fulfilled all requirements for a high school degree.


Automatically accepts anyone with a 3.4 or higher, regardless of ACT or SAT score.

GPA: 2.8-3.5

SAT: 930


GPA: 3.64-3.93

SAT: 1190


GPA: 3.28-3.8

SAT: 1070


GPA: 3.7 – 4.0

SAT: 1500

Have you decided? Here’s how Erin could reasonably organize her Reach, Match, and Solid college list on statistics alone:

  • REACH – Harvard, University of Washington
  • MATCH – Western Washington University
  • SOLID – Central Washington University, Bellevue College

Remember, many schools care about you beyond your test scores! That means you don’t have to dismiss certain schools just because they’re statistically competitive. Many schools also care about community engagement, course rigor, diversity, leadership, and writing voice, so let your personality shine when applying to schools!


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