• Mr. Jeff Neill

Evaluating Likelihood of Admissibility


For those who new to college counseling and the college process either here at ISD or elsewhere, you may not understand the definition of Likely (L), Possible (P), Reach (R), and Far Reach. When students begin to create a college list, we challenge students to explore themselves and their criteria when choosing colleges. Students start off with a longer list and start to trim it down as they do more research and figure out what they want in a college. They start to determine the important factors that are necessary at a college and will end up with a preliminary college list of 12-15 schools ideally by the end of their junior year with the goal of bring down to 6-10 by September of the senior year.

During this process of adding and deleting schools, counselors will assess each student’s list and determine the “expected outcome” or possibility of acceptance to the universities. We use the terms Likely (L), Possible (P), Reach (R), and Far Reach (FR) to indicate this possibility, and we typically refer to this assessment as “LPR.” To be clear, we use only testing results/predictions for this evaluation, and, like it or not, we are incredibly accurate with our predictions.


We use the LPR to provide this prediction of admissibility:

  • Likely schools are schools where students should have 75% or greater chance of acceptance.

  • Possible schools are schools with 25% to 75% chance of acceptance.

  • Reach schools are schools with less than 25% chance.

When crafting a good, balanced college list, students should have 2-3 schools in the likely and possible categories. It is highly discouraged for students to apply only to reach schools.


There is another category of schools called Far Reach schools, which at some high schools are referred to as “improbable.” This is our direct way of indicating that in our professional opinion and experience, we do not anticipate any possibility of admission. Those very few students who do earn admission to these institutions, in our experience, have been exclusively recruited athletes, development targets, legacies, or applicants to portfolio-based programs (art, music, dance, architecture, etc). Without such a “hook,” we discourage students from pursuing FR schools, particularly at the expense of more appropriate fits.


Counselors will provide the LPRs of all schools toward the end of junior year when students are working toward establishing their preliminary college list of 12-15 schools.

This leads us to our closing comment on our philosophical approach to applying to colleges. Most students have the stamina only to focus their attention wholly on 6-7 colleges, some less, some slightly more. However, larger lists are typically the result of insufficient self-assessment and college research. That having been said, we do not prohibit students from applying to any colleges. They may pursue any and as many colleges as they choose, although we will actively discourage students from applying to any college they have not fully vetted, that does not seem to be a good fit for them, or that they would not actually attend in some circumstance. We work to make sure that each decision throughout the college application process is made with a full host of information. The LPR is an example of such information that we provide; it is not an assessment of the student in any qualitative way. It is a quantitative assessment of a student’s chances of admissibility and should positively direct the student toward appropriate fit schools.


We always welcome students to engage in discussion with their college counselor about their lists and the LPR. Let us know your questions!

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