Top 25 Good Safety Schools | Best Plan B Colleges 2024

June 17, 2024
8 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 6/17/24

Feeling anxious about college admissions? Add some peace of mind by researching the best safety schools to increase your likelihood of admission.

Building a balanced college list is critical, yet possibly one of the most stressful parts of the application process. That lingering question, “Will I actually get in?” can plague even the strongest applicants. To help put your mind at ease, be sure to include two good safety schools in your list.

While these schools may have higher acceptance rates and lower rankings compared to more competitive choices, they still provide quality education and opportunities. Having a backup option gives you that invaluable security net, with the high likelihood of an admission offer if plans with more aspirational colleges fall through. In this article, we’ll explore insider tips to help you find the best fallback schools you're qualified for.

What Is a Safety School?

A safety school is a college where an applicant's grades, test scores, and other credentials meet or exceed the average range of admitted students. Safety schools typically have high acceptance rates, meaning applicants have a strong likelihood of getting in.

Top 25 Good Safety Schools to Have on Your College List

When planning your college applications, it's wise to include safety schools where your admission chances are strong. Here are 25 reliable safety schools known for their academic excellence, vibrant campus life, and supportive environments.

School Acceptance Rate Avg. GPA Avg. SAT Avg. ACT Tuition
University of Vermont 71% 3.73 1230-1410 27-31 $18,890
Arizona State University 88% 3.97 1160-1360 25-31 $12,051
Pennsylvania State University 55% 3.75 1220-1400 27-32 $19,835
University of Massachusetts Amherst 63% 3.73 1210-1400 27-32 $17,357
James Madison University 78% 3.68 1110-1290 23-29 $13,576
University of Delaware 72% 3.7 1200-1390 26-31 $16,080
Wofford College 60% 3.63 1210-1390 26-30 $54,100
University of Denver 78% 3.7 1160-1360 25-31 $59,340
Willamette University 81% 3.73 1140-1340 25-30 $48,226
Michigan State University 88% 3.75 1160-1350 25-30 $15,372
University of Iowa 86% 3.74 1090-1310 23-29 $10,964
Westmont College 82% 3.6 1140-1340 25-31 $51,790
Temple University 80% 3.5 1110-1300 23-29 $21,095
Mississippi State University 70% 3.54 1030-1260 21-27 $9,815
Middle Tennessee State University 73% 3.1 990-1190 20-26 $9,592
University of Mississippi 97% 3.13 990-1210 20-26 $9,252
Missouri State University 94% 3.36 1030-1240 21-27 $9,024
University of Nevada, Reno 86% 3.29 1020-1240 20-26 $8,994
Oklahoma State University 71% 3.24 1020-1240 20-26 $9,244
University of North Dakota 84% 3.34 1010-1230 20-26 $10,951
University of Arizona 87% 3.5 1140-1370 21-29 $15,601
University of Kansas 88% 3.7 1090-1340 21-28 $18,709
University of Kentucky 95% 3.6 1070-1290 21-28 $18,268
University of New Mexico 96% 3.4 1150 18-25 $15,070
West Virginia University 77% 3.7 1000-1220 20-26 $13,380

1. University of Vermont

University of Vermont
Ranking #133 in National Universities
Location Burlington, VT
Acceptance Rate 71%
Undergraduate Enrollment 10,276
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Scores 1230-1410
Average ACT Scores 27-31
Tuition (In-State) $18,890

The University of Vermont is an excellent safety school located in the charming college town of Burlington. With an acceptance rate of 71%, students with decent grades and test scores have a good chance of getting in. UVM has a respectable academic reputation.

The school has a classic New England campus set on the shores of Lake Champlain, providing ample opportunities for outdoor activities. UVM offers over 100 majors across a wide range of disciplines. Popular choices include business, biology, environmental studies, and psychology. 

Small class sizes ensure students receive individualized attention from passionate professors. UVM graduates boast strong job placement rates and starting salaries.

2. Arizona State University

Arizona State University
Ranking #105 in National Universities
Location Tempe, AZ
Acceptance Rate 88%
Undergraduate Enrollment 51,866
Average GPA 4.0
Average SAT Scores 1160-1360
Average ACT Scores 25-31
Tuition (In-State) $12,051

With six campuses across metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona State University offers unparalleled academic opportunities. ASU has an acceptance rate of 88% and enrolls over 50,000 undergraduates. The school is well-regarded for innovation and provides a high-caliber education at an affordable price.

ASU features outstanding facilities, top-ranked programs, NCAA Division 1 sports, and an extensive alumni network. Students can choose from over 400-degree options whiie enjoying 300+ days of sunshine per year. 

ASU also provides merit scholarships and grants to make college accessible. With vibrant campus life and career-focused programs, ASU is an exceptional safety school choice.

3. Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University
Ranking #60 in National Universities
Location University Park, PA
Acceptance Rate 56%
Undergraduate Enrollment 40,363
Average GPA 3.8
Average SAT Scores 1220-1400
Average ACT Scores 27-32
Tuition (In-State) $19,835

As Pennsylvania's land-grant university, Penn State provides an elite education at a public school price tag. With numerous campuses across PA, PSU features strong academics grounded in real-world application. The 55% acceptance rate makes it a realistic safety option for students with good grades and test scores.

Penn State is a massive university with over 40,000 undergrads and extensive research activity. Students can select from over 275 majors, join 800+ student clubs, cheer for Division 1 athletics, and make valuable connections via prominent alumni. State-of-the-art facilities, experiential learning opportunities, and reasonable in-state tuition rates cement Penn State’s reputation as an outstanding public university.

4. University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst
Ranking #67 in National Universities
Location Amherst, MA
Acceptance Rate 64%
Undergraduate Enrollment 22,188
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Scores 1210-1400
Average ACT Scores 27-32
Tuition (In-State) $17,357

UMass Amherst is the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts system. Nestled in rural New England, UMass provides top-notch academics at an affordable cost for in-state students. With an acceptance rate of 64%, it serves as an achievable safety school for many applicants.

UMass Amherst boasts exceptional research facilities, accomplished faculty, and highly-ranked programs in business, computer science, engineering, and more. Undergraduates enjoy an abundance of clubs, concerts, festivals, and Division 1 athletic events on the lively campus. 

Surrounded by the Berkshire mountains, students take advantage of plentiful outdoor recreation as well. UMass Amherst offers big school opportunities with a small college community feel.

5. James Madison University

James Madison University
Ranking #124 in National Universities
Location Harrisonburg, VA
Acceptance Rate 78%
Undergraduate Enrollment 19,974
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Scores 1110-1290
Average ACT Scores 23-29
Tuition (In-State) $13,576

James Madison University has built a reputation as one of the top public universities in the Virginia state system. JMU manages to combine elite-level academics with a fun, spirited campus culture. With a 78% acceptance rate, it serves as a realistic safety option for many students.

Located in the Shenandoah Valley, JMU’s campus boasts beautiful scenery and top-notch facilities. The university provides strong undergraduate programs in business, health sciences, communications, psychology, and more. Students praise JMU's welcoming atmosphere, passionate professors, an abundance of clubs/activities, and Division 1 sports. 

Reasonable in-state tuition rates and ample merit scholarships add to JMU’s appeal as well.

6. University of Delaware

University of Delaware
Ranking #76 in National Universities
Location Newark, DE
Acceptance Rate 72%
Undergraduate Enrollment 18,245
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Scores 1200-1390
Average ACT Scores 26-31
Tuition (In-State) $16,080

As a highly respected public research institution, the University of Delaware provides exceptional educational opportunities. UD features competitive admissions with a 72% acceptance rate, making it a strong safety consideration for students in the mid-Atlantic region.

The University of Delaware promotes undergraduate engagement via research projects, study abroad options, service learning, and more. Students select from over 150 major options while enjoying small class sizes. Located in Newark, Delaware, the campus provides close access to major cities like Philadelphia. 

With a vibrant college town environment and successful alumni network, UD is an excellent match for students seeking the resources of a large university with the community feel of a small college.

7. Wofford College

Wofford College
Ranking #59 in National Universities
Location Spartanburg, SC
Acceptance Rate 60%
Undergraduate Enrollment 1,650
Average GPA 3.6
Average SAT Scores 1210-1390
Average ACT Scores 26-30
Tuition (In-State) $54,100

Wofford College is a private liberal arts school located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. With just 1,650 undergraduates, Wofford provides personal mentoring relationships unmatched by larger universities. The college admits over half of applicants, making it a superb safety choice for students who value small class sizes.

All Wofford students complete an innovative general education program that emphasizes critical thinking and self-knowledge. Undergraduates can select from over 40 majors while enjoying Division 1 athletics and abundant study-abroad opportunities. Known for successful outcomes, almost 90% of Wofford graduates complete advanced or professional degrees. 

The college also provides generous financial assistance - with scholarships and grants covering almost 70% of tuition costs.

8. University of Denver

University of Denver
Ranking #124 in National Universities
Location Denver, CO
Acceptance Rate 78%
Undergraduate Enrollment 5,765
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Scores 1160-1360
Average ACT Scores 25-31
Tuition (In-State) $59,340

The University of Denver is a prestigious private university located in Colorado's vibrant capital city. DU provides a personalized learning environment that prepares students for success through innovative majors, experiential learning, and abundant research opportunities. 

With a 78% acceptance rate, the university serves as a realistic safety option for many applicants. The University of Denver campus promotes community and wellness through Division II athletics, performing arts centers, sustainability initiatives, and more. 

DU undergraduates can select from over 125 majors, including standout programs in business, law, computer science, journalism, and hospitality. Students benefit from the school’s prime Denver location, robust alumni network with notable CEOs and public figures, and career outcomes boosted by practical experience.

9. Willamette University

Willamette University
Ranking #75 in National Universities
Location Salem, OR
Acceptance Rate 81%
Undergraduate Enrollment 2,068
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Scores 1140-1340
Average ACT Scores 25-30
Tuition (In-State) $48,226

Willamette University is a selective liberal arts college located in the Pacific Northwest. With an acceptance rate of 81%, Willamette serves as an exceptional safety choice for students drawn to small class sizes and undergraduate focus. The student-to-faculty ratio is just 12:1, enabling close mentoring relationships.

Willamette provides a rigorous general education grounded in critical analysis, civic engagement, and sustainability. Students then select from 37 majors, with standout options in sciences, humanities, and social sciences. 

Undergraduates further benefit from merit scholarships covering over 90% of need, study abroad programs around the globe, NCAA Division III athletics, and a prime setting in Oregon’s capital city. With a dynamic learning community and successful outcomes, Willamette University represents an ideal safety school.

10. Michigan State University

Michigan State University
Ranking #60 in National Universities
Location East Lansing, MI
Acceptance Rate 88%
Undergraduate Enrollment 38,996
Average GPA 3.8
Average SAT Scores 1160-1350
Average ACT Scores 25-30
Tuition (In-State) $15,372

As a highly ranked public research institution, Michigan State University provides exceptional academic opportunities across over 400 majors. MSU maintains a reputation for innovation and real-world preparation at an affordable price for in-state students. The 88% acceptance rate also makes the university a great safety consideration.

The sprawling MSU campus encompasses quality facilities, Big 10 athletics, and abundant student activities. Undergraduates praise MSU's welcoming community, passionate faculty, study abroad programs, research initiatives, and service learning opportunities. 

Top-ranked programs in science, agriculture, education, criminal justice, and more cement MSU's status as an elite public university. Graduates also benefit from the prominent MSU alumni network.

11. University of Iowa

University of Iowa
Ranking #93 in National Universities
Location Iowa City, IA
Acceptance Rate 86%
Undergraduate Enrollment 23,357
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Scores 1090-1310
Average ACT Scores 23-29
Tuition (In-State) $10,964

The University of Iowa offers world-class academics grounded in liberal arts exploration. As Iowa's flagship public university, students receive elite-caliber opportunities at an affordable in-state tuition rate. With an acceptance rate of 86%, Iowa represents an exceptional safety consideration as well.

Undergraduates at Iowa enjoy reasonable class sizes, passionate faculty, and prime research facilities across disciplines like healthcare, sciences, humanities, and engineering. 

The UI campus provides quality performing arts venues, cultural festivals, Division 1 athletics, 500+ student groups, and abundant school spirit. Graduates gain access to the prominent Hawkeye alumni network which boosts career outcomes across industries. For an elite public education at a reasonable price, UI is hard to beat.

12. Westmont College

Westmont College
Ranking #107 in National Universities
Location Santa Barbara, CA
Acceptance Rate 82%
Undergraduate Enrollment 1,400
Average GPA 3.6
Average SAT Scores 1140-1340
Average ACT Scores 25-31
Tuition (In-State) $51,790

Westmont College is a selective, faith-based liberal arts school nestled in the foothills near Santa Barbara, California. Committed to the integration of faith and learning, Westmont provides a transformational education grounded in critical analysis and civic responsibility. The 82% acceptance rate also makes Westmont a realistic safety school for many applicants.

Westmont fosters intellectual exploration through small classes, undergraduate research projects, and study abroad programs around the world. Students praise the college’s intimate Christian community, passionate professors, and emphasis on leadership development. 

Undergraduates can select from over 25 majors while enjoying NCAA Division III athletics and abundant performing arts opportunities as well. Known for successful outcomes, Westmont graduates attend top graduate/professional programs and secure meaningful work aligned with their vocation.

13. Temple University

Temple University
Ranking #89 in National Universities
Location Philadelphia, PA
Acceptance Rate 80%
Undergraduate Enrollment 28,287
Average GPA 3.5
Average SAT Scores 1110-1300
Average ACT Scores 23-29
Tuition (In-State) $21,095

Located in the heart of Philadelphia, Temple University provides elite academics and research opportunities at an affordable public tuition rate. Temple features an urban campus environment ideal for students interested in music, media, healthcare, law, and social justice. With an 80% acceptance rate, the university serves as a realistic safety consideration as well.

Temple undergraduates select from over 300 degree options while enjoying Division 1 athletics, performing arts venues, cultural festivals, internships with top employers, and service initiatives throughout Philadelphia.

Noteworthy programs include business, education, engineering, pharmacy, and health sciences. Temple students graduate career-ready and prepared for leadership in their field of choice.

14. Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University
Ranking #216 in National Universities
Location Mississippi State, MS
Acceptance Rate 70%
Undergraduate Enrollment 17,289
Average GPA 3.5
Average SAT Scores 1030-1260
Average ACT Scores 21-27
Tuition (In-State) $9,815

Mississippi State University provides exceptional educational quality at an affordable price as Mississippi's leading public research university. MSU maintains high admissions standards with a 70% acceptance rate, making it a great safety option at a reasonable cost.

MSU prioritizes student success through hands-on learning, undergraduate research, study abroad options, service initiatives, and more. Undergraduates choose from over 185 academic programs while enjoying Division 1 SEC athletics and abundant social activities. Highly ranked offerings in agriculture, engineering, architecture, business, and veterinary medicine cement MSU’s reputation for excellence. 

Graduates also benefit from the prominent Bulldog alumni network throughout the region.

15. Middle Tennessee State University

Middle Tennessee State University
Ranking #304 in National Universities
Location Murfreesboro, TN
Acceptance Rate 73%
Undergraduate Enrollment 20,913
Average GPA 3.1
Average SAT Scores 990-1190
Average ACT Scores 20-26
Tuition (In-State) $9,592

Middle Tennessee State University offers comprehensive academic opportunities in a vibrant college-town environment. As one of Tennessee's largest universities, MTSU provides elite facilities and faculty along with an ultra-affordable in-state tuition rate. The 73% acceptance rate also makes MTSU an exceptional safety school choice.

MTSU undergraduates select from 140+ majors while enjoying Division 1 athletics, 500+ student organizations, performing arts venues, internship options, and abundant school spirit. 

Especially noteworthy programs include the recording industry, aerospace, concrete industry management, and more niche fields. Surrounded by Nashville's booming economy, MTSU graduates secure employment with top companies across industries.

16. University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi
Ranking #163 in National Universities
Location Oxford, MS
Acceptance Rate 97%
Undergraduate Enrollment 18,423
Average GPA 3.1
Average SAT Scores 990-1210
Average ACT Scores 20-26
Tuition (In-State) $9,252

The University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS, has a 97% acceptance rate and over 18,000 undergraduates enrolled. It offers a vibrant campus life with over 300 student organizations to get involved in.

Ole Miss has a medical amnesty policy to encourage students to seek emergency assistance when needed without fear of disciplinary action. The school also has counseling services, health services, and emergency alert systems in place. 

With low in-state tuition of $9,252 and average GPAs and test scores on the lower end for four-year universities, Ole Miss checks the boxes of affordability, accessibility, and safety that make it a great safety school option.

17. Missouri State University

Missouri State University
Ranking #342 in National Universities
Location Springfield, MO
Acceptance Rate 94%
Undergraduate Enrollment 16,619
Average GPA 3.4
Average SAT Scores 1030-1240
Average ACT Scores 21-27
Tuition (In-State) $9,024

Missouri State University is located in Springfield, MO and has a very high 94% acceptance rate. Over 16,000 undergraduates are enrolled across a range of academic programs. 

For $9,024 in annual in-state tuition, students gain access to the attractive, compact Missouri State campus with dedicated health/counseling services and a medical amnesty policy. 

Required GPA, test scores, and other admissions criteria fall on the lower end, enhancing the school's accessibility. Missouri State offers an excellent combination of affordability, academic opportunity, vibrant student life, and campus safety.

18. University of Nevada, Reno

University of Nevada, Reno
Ranking #195 in National Universities
Location Reno, NV
Acceptance Rate 86%
Undergraduate Enrollment 16,317
Average GPA 3.3
Average SAT Scores 1020-1240
Average ACT Scores 20-26
Tuition (In-State) $8,994

The University of Nevada, Reno offers a compelling mix of academic opportunities and outdoor adventures that few institutions can match. Nestled in the scenic surroundings of Reno, NV, with proximity to Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountains, UNR appeals to students who value both academic rigor and an active, outdoor lifestyle. 

Its strong programs in STEM, journalism, and liberal arts are complemented by a campus culture that emphasizes innovation and community engagement. 

With an 86% acceptance rate and affordable in-state tuition, UNR makes quality education accessible, ensuring that students not only receive a robust academic experience but also have the chance to explore diverse interests and passions in a supportive environment.

19. Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State University
Ranking #185 in National Universities
Location Stillwater, OK
Acceptance Rate 71%
Undergraduate Enrollment 20,288
Average GPA 3.2
Average SAT Scores 1020-1240
Average ACT Scores 20-26
Tuition (In-State) $9,244

Oklahoma State University, located in Stillwater, OK, is a vibrant public land-grant institution that prides itself on offering a rich educational experience rooted in engineering, business, and agriculture. With a 71% acceptance rate and a substantial undergraduate enrollment, OSU fosters a dynamic community atmosphere where students are encouraged to engage deeply with their studies and the wider community. 

The university's emphasis on providing a supportive environment for both academic and personal growth ensures that students have the resources and community backing to explore their potential and prepare for future success. 

OSU's commitment to excellence is evident in its wide range of programs and active campus life, making it an attractive option for students seeking a comprehensive university experience.

20. University of North Dakota

University of North Dakota
Ranking #236 in National Universities
Location Grand Forks, ND
Acceptance Rate 84%
Undergraduate Enrollment 11,942
Average GPA 3.3
Average SAT Scores 1010-1230
Average ACT Scores 20-26
Tuition (In-State) $10,951

At the University of North Dakota, students are offered an education that expertly balances academic rigor with opportunities for research and innovation. Situated in Grand Forks, ND, UND is particularly renowned for its aviation, engineering, and health sciences programs, attracting students who are eager to lead and innovate in these fields. 

With an acceptance rate of 84%, the university is accessible to a wide array of students, providing a nurturing environment that supports both personal and professional development. UND's commitment to research and innovation means students have ample opportunities to engage in groundbreaking work, preparing them for successful careers and meaningful contributions to their fields. 

The supportive campus environment and comprehensive educational offerings make UND a standout choice for students aiming for a well-rounded and impactful college experience.

21. University of Arizona

University of Arizona
Ranking #115 in National Universities
Location Tucson, AZ
Acceptance Rate 87%
Undergraduate Enrollment 40,407
Average GPA 3.5
Average SAT Scores 1140-1370
Average ACT Scores 21-29
Tuition (In-State) $15,601

The University of Arizona offers world-class academics and research opportunities in a sunny, vibrant location. With an 87% acceptance rate and reasonable in-state tuition, Arizona represents an accessible option for students seeking a large university experience. The school is especially known for programs in space sciences, entrepreneurship, and integrative medicine.

The University of Arizona is an excellent choice for students who want to combine rigorous academics with an active, outdoorsy lifestyle. With over 300 days of sunshine per year, Arizona's campus allows students to take full advantage of the hiking, biking, and natural wonders of the Southwest. 

The university is a great fit for anyone interested in space exploration, as it is #1 in the U.S. for astrophysics expenditures. Entrepreneurial-minded students will also thrive, as Arizona provides ample resources for innovation and startup creation.

22. University of Kansas

University of Kansas
Ranking #151 in National Universities
Location Lawrence, KS
Acceptance Rate 88%
Undergraduate Enrollment 19,241
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Scores 1090-1340
Average ACT Scores 21-28
Tuition (In-State) $18,709

As Kansas' flagship university, KU provides exceptional academic programs at an affordable price. With an 88% acceptance rate, students with solid grades gain access to opportunities often reserved for more selective schools. KU features elite programs in journalism, special education, public affairs, and more.

The University of Kansas is an ideal choice for students seeking a classic college experience. The charming town of Lawrence revolves around the university, offering an abundance of school spirit, community events, and local attractions. KU is an especially great fit for aspiring journalists, as the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications is widely regarded as one of the best in the nation. 

The university also appeals to students pursuing careers in public service, with top-ranked programs in city management, public administration, and special education.

23. University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky
Ranking #159 in National Universities
Location Lexington, KY
Acceptance Rate 95%
Undergraduate Enrollment 22,735
Average GPA 3.6
Average SAT Scores 1070-1290
Average ACT Scores 21-28
Tuition (In-State) $18,268

The University of Kentucky combines the resources of a large public research university with the community feel of a small college town. Accepting 95% of applicants, UK provides accessible opportunities across 200+ majors. The university is especially known for programs in agriculture, pharmacy, and engineering.

Students should consider the University of Kentucky if they want to be part of a passionate, sports-loving community. UK features the most successful NCAA Division 1 basketball program in history, and the school spirit is undeniable. 

The university is also a great choice for students interested in agriculture, as it is one of the few land-grant universities with a thriving college of agriculture on its main campus. 

Additionally, students pursuing healthcare will benefit from UK's top-ranked pharmacy program and on-campus medical center.

24. University of New Mexico

University of New Mexico
Ranking #236 in National Universities
Location Albuquerque, NM
Acceptance Rate 96%
Undergraduate Enrollment 15,914
Average GPA 3.4
Average SAT Scores 1150
Average ACT Scores 18-25
Tuition (In-State) $15,070

Located in the high desert of Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico offers quality academics at one of the lowest in-state tuition rates in the nation. With a 96% acceptance rate, UNM serves as an accessible option for students in the Southwest and beyond. The university is known for programs in nursing, anthropology, and more.

The University of New Mexico is an excellent fit for students who want to explore diverse cultures and perspectives. The university has one of the highest percentages of Hispanic and Native American students in the nation, offering a vibrant, multicultural learning environment. 

UNM is also a great choice for students interested in healthcare, as it features the only Level I trauma center and only nursing PhD program in New Mexico. 

The university's location in Albuquerque provides exciting opportunities for hot air ballooning, skiing, hiking, and other outdoor adventures.

25. West Virginia University

West Virginia University
Ranking #216 in National Universities
Location Morgantown, WV
Acceptance Rate 77%
Undergraduate Enrollment 19,059
Average GPA 3.7
Average SAT Scores 1000-1220
Average ACT Scores 20-26
Tuition (In-State) $13,380

As the flagship land-grant university of West Virginia, WVU provides an engaging educational experience at an affordable cost. WVU admits 77% of applicants and offers standout programs in forensics, mining engineering, rural medicine, and more. Students enjoy a vibrant campus life in the scenic college town of Morgantown.

West Virginia University is ideal for students seeking a tight-knit community with ample school spirit. Morgantown revolves around WVU, and students quickly develop a strong sense of camaraderie and pride. 

The university is an especially great fit for students interested in forensics, as it features one of the only forensic and investigative science programs in the nation. WVU also appeals to students called to improve rural communities, with highly regarded programs in mining engineering, natural resource economics, and rural medicine. 

Outdoor enthusiasts will feel at home in WVU's scenic location, which offers opportunities for hiking, rafting, skiing, and more.

What Are the Best Safety Schools for a 3.7 GPA?

The best safety schools for a 3.7 GPA are colleges where your grades and test scores exceed the average for admitted students. With a 3.7 GPA, you will likely get accepted to schools like the University of Vermont, Arizona State University, and Pennsylvania State University.

How to Choose a Good Safety School

When selecting a favorable safety school, choose colleges where your grades and test scores exceed or meet the average score ranges of admitted students. You should apply to at least two safety schools at minimum. A good safety school should:

  • Have an average GPA of around 3.5 and test scores below or equal to your own
  • Offer your intended major and opportunities to get involved on campus
  • Be affordable based on your family's budget
  • Meet other preferences like location, size, campus culture, etc. 

If your numbers don’t quite match the performance of students admitted in the last few years, that college likely isn’t a good option for a safety school. However, with a sizeable advantage in other factors, such as an outstanding personal statement or being a recruited athlete, you can still have a good chance.

If you need help choosing the perfect school for your college list, take our college selection quiz.

It’s important to keep in mind that one student’s safety school may not necessarily be the safety school for another. Every applicant's profile is different. Therefore, you need to compare your own performance with admission statistics to find the best safety schools for you. 

Common Mistakes When Choosing a Safety School

When building a balanced college list, it's important to increase your chances of college admission. However, many students make critical mistakes when selecting safety schools. Here are some of the most common pitfalls to avoid.

1. Focusing Only on Acceptance Rates

One of the biggest mistakes is choosing a safety school based solely on a high acceptance rate. While it's important that your safety schools have acceptance rates above 60-70%, there are many other important factors to weigh. 

Make sure to also consider academic quality, campus culture, location, size, majors offered, affordability, and overall fit. A safety school with a 90% acceptance rate that lacks your desired programs or is in an undesirable location will not serve you well.

2. Ignoring Financial Aid Policies

Another frequent mistake is failing to research financial aid policies at safety schools. Many students assume that safeties will be affordable, but this is not always the case, especially at private colleges. 

Before putting a safety school on your list, make sure to use net price calculators, research merit aid opportunities, and understand the full cost of attendance. You don't want to end up in a situation where your only admissions offer is from a safety school you can't afford.

3. Failing to Demonstrate Interest

Some applicants don't take their safety school applications seriously, assuming an offer of admission is guaranteed. However, this can be a major mistake. 

Increasingly, colleges consider demonstrated interest as a factor in admissions. Failing to apply thoughtfully, visit campus, attend virtual events, or interview can hurt your chances, even at a safety school. 

It's important to put effort into all your applications and show your safeties that you're genuinely interested.

4. Not Ensuring a Good Academic Fit

Finally, some students make the mistake of choosing a safety school that's not a good academic match. If your grades and test scores far exceed those of the average admitted student, you may not find an intellectual peer group or the academic rigor you're seeking. 

Additionally, if a safety school lacks programs aligned with your interests, you may struggle to stay motivated. Aim for safety schools that offer a reasonable academic fit where you'll be challenged and engaged.

    By avoiding these common mistakes and carefully evaluating all aspects of fit, you'll be able to craft a list of safety schools that will set you up for success and happiness in college.

    Best Safety Schools for Different Majors

    When selecting safety schools, it's important to ensure they have strong programs in your intended field of study. Here are some of the best safety schools for popular majors.


    For aspiring entrepreneurs, there are a variety of good safety schools. The top safety schools for business include Arizona State University and the University of Delaware for their academics and student life.

    Computer Science

    Aspiring computer science majors have several excellent safety school options. Arizona State University, UMass Amherst, the University of Iowa, and the University of Nevada, Reno all provide comprehensive computer science curricula in a supportive environment.


    For engineering students, the best safety schools include Penn State, the University of Delaware, Michigan State University, and Mississippi State. These schools combine challenging academics with hands-on projects and co-op experiences to prepare graduates for success.


    Students interested in studying biology will find excellent programs at top safety schools like the University of Vermont, James Madison University, the University of Iowa, and Oklahoma State. These universities offer state-of-the-art labs, research opportunities with faculty, and career preparation resources.

    Political Science

    Political science majors should consider top safety schools such as UMass Amherst, the University of Delaware, Temple University, and the University of Iowa. These institutions provide diverse course offerings, internship experiences, and opportunities to engage with contemporary issues.


    For psychology students, top safety school choices include the University of Vermont, Arizona State, James Madison University, and the University of North Dakota. These programs blend rigorous academics with research, internships, and community engagement projects.


    Aspiring finance professionals have several strong safety school options, such as Penn State, the University of Denver, Michigan State, and the University of Iowa. These schools offer challenging finance coursework, experiential learning opportunities, and extensive alumni networks in the industry.

    By selecting safety schools with robust programs in your desired major, you'll have access to quality academics, research opportunities, and career preparation even if your top-choice colleges don't work out.

    How Many Safety Schools Should You Have?

    You should aim to have two safety schools on your college list. Having two safety schools increases the likelihood of getting into at least one if you don't get into other schools.

    With this in mind, it’s standard for students to apply to 10 to 12 colleges, with two or three of those as safety options. In other words, safety schools should take up about 20% of the total schools you plan to apply to. 

    Take our quiz to discover your chances of college admission.

    FAQs: Best Safety Schools

    If you’re still unsure, we’ve covered the most commonly asked questions about safety schools.

    1. What Are Good Safety Schools in NYC?

    Some good safety schools in NYC with high acceptance rates include:

    When evaluating NYC safety schools, look at average GPAs and test scores of admitted students. If your grades and scores meet or exceed the averages, you have a good chance of admission.

    2. How Do I Pick a Safety School?

    When choosing a college that is likely to admit you, pick colleges where your grades, test scores, and qualifications meet or exceed the average scores for admitted students. The best safety schools should have high acceptance rates (50%+), average GPAs and test scores below your own, affordable tuition or generous financial aid, your intended major, and opportunities to get involved.

    3. What Is The Best Safety School in California?

    The University of California, Riverside is considered one of the best safety schools in California. It has a high acceptance rate of over 50%, with average GPAs and test scores that many students can meet or exceed.

    4. What Are Good Safety Schools for Ivy Applicants?

    For students with the strong academic profiles needed to apply to Ivy League schools, safe bets for admission include top public universities and selective private colleges where admit rates are higher. While not guaranteed, an Ivy-caliber applicant's high test scores and grades should make them competitive at these schools. Here are some of the most reliable schools:

    • Wheaton University
    • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    • DePauw University
    • Yeshiva University
    • Texas A&M University, College Station
    • University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
    • Virginia Tech

    These schools might be notably more competitive than other schools previously mentioned. But if your application is strong enough to have a chance for Ivy League schools, these schools can certainly be considered safety schools for you!

    5. Do Safety Schools Offer Worse Education?

    No, safety schools do not necessarily offer a worse education compared to more selective colleges. While less selective schools may have some differences in resources, rankings, or other metrics, safety schools can still provide quality academics and opportunities.

    Final Thoughts

    Choosing secure options for college admission is an important part of the application process. While admission may be more likely at safety schools due to higher acceptance rates, students should still put maximum effort into these applications.

    Safe bets for admission allow you to diversify your college options while increasing your chances of admission somewhere you'd be content attending. Though they may not be your first choice, safety schools can provide quality education and opportunities that align with your goals. So don't underestimate their value when mapping your journey to higher education!

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