Undergraduate Admission Blog

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November 12, 2014

STUDENT BLOG: Bye Bye Reach Schools

There was a time in high school when I would look up a university’s cost of tuition and immediately discount it from my application list because of a price tag that seemed absolutely impossible to be able to afford. If it wasn’t tuition, the statistics about the average admitted student GPAs and test scores surely discouraged me. It seemed as though there was always something that would hold me back or give me a sense of unworthiness to even apply to such highly recognized colleges even if I really wanted to attend.

Luckily, I was able to have people around me who told me otherwise and instead encouraged me to focus on just how unique I was.  If I were to pass on advice to anyone going through the college application process right now, I would mimic the same advice I received which is that, “You are unique. You are an asset. Now tell everyone why.” You have a story no one else has told before; your background, the people around you, the things you’ve done – all of these things have come to shape who you are and where you are right now.  With that in mind, don’t let things like money, GPA, or test scores be the things that hinder you from achieving what you want as you go on to college. Maybe you’ve heard this advice before, but I can sincerely say that had I not followed it, I would not be at USC.

The term “reach school” refers to a school that would most likely take a bit more effort and work to be admitted to given your current standing. Maybe you’ve compared SAT scores and GPAs or even the overall acceptance rate and the numbers make your odds of acceptance seem like a stretch.  If you find yourself in a situation where you are deciding whether to apply to such a school or not, ask yourself these questions: 1) Can I actually see myself attending this school? 2) Would studying at this school get me closer to where I want to go and what I want to achieve in the future? 3) Does the school provide opportunities that I want to be involved in? And 4) If given a full ride to every school I applied to, would I still consider this school? If the answer to these questions is yes, APPLY. By not applying you automatically eliminate your chance of being admitted. If you’re worried about application fees, there are often times fee waivers available so I encourage you to ask your counselor or call the school’s admission office.

Overall, have no regrets by the time you’re done with applications and say bye bye to those so called “reach schools” and instead turn that reach into a stepping as you progress forward on your journey to college.


  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much KJ! I was having second thoughts about applying to some of my tougher schools (including USC), But looking at those questions you have presented/tips, you have made my decision that much easier.

  2. JingJing says:

    Very well inspiring ! Thank you KJ!!

  3. Joe says:

    This really hit home for me. I’m an older student and a veteran who had a rough start with college after returning home from service. I’m now only one semester away from my associates with the intention to apply for USC to transfer. Like you, all my friends and family (mostly Trojans) are telling me to apply and tell the amazing story of where I’ve been and what I’ve accomplished along the way that makes me an asset to USC. I’m glad you got into your dream school. Fight On!

  4. Cheryl says:

    That is such a true reflection of life in general. School is just part of that journey. Thank you for sharing your honest experience

  5. Tameka says:

    Thank you for this post. Very encouraging as my son is waiting to hear back from USC.

  6. Neha Dronamraju says:

    Thank you for this blog post, KJ. I have second-guessed myself all too often, but am glad I decided to apply to USC. Thank you for the encouragement

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