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Do colleges do "research" on one's high school?

PandaShoelacePandaShoelace 0 replies5 threadsRegistered User New Member
My high school only offers a few AP courses, and none in science. In the application process, will college admissions know this fact? It seems like it would be quite an inherent disadvantage, considering that students don't generally get to choose which high school they go to.
There is also a high school very, very near to my own high school that does offer many AP courses. Would it be expected of someone in my situation to transfer to gain the same "recognition"?
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Replies to: Do colleges do "research" on one's high school?

  • menloparkmommenloparkmom 12465 replies540 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 4
    "In the application process, will college admissions know this fact? "
    yes, so please relax.
    you are evaluated first within the context of your own HS.Then within the context of other freshman applicants from your state.The admissions officers from colleges you apply to all have their own have territories, and it is their job to know what classes your HS offers and what it doesn't.

    "Would it be expected of someone in my situation to transfer to gain the same "recognition"? "
    Absolutely not.
    edited June 4
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 2231 replies30 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    High schools typically send a copy of their high school profile along with the student's transcript. High school profiles detail the course offerings and various levels, gpa calculation methodology, proportion of students who take AP tests and their scores, along with other data. These profiles are public information, and available on most school's websites.

    Most admissions officers have good knowledge about the high schools in their territories, and along with the profile, have a great deal of information on hand.....applicants will be evaluated within the context of their high school. Some schools compare students from the same high school, some don't. Take a look at your high school's profile and/or speak with your GC. Good luck.
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  • murray93murray93 124 replies16 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I’ve always wondered this, too. My D is applying to schools I’m CERTAIN no one from our high school has ever applied to before. So how would they know about our tiny, rural high school in another part of the country?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7244 replies56 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The high school profile has a lot of information that will go with the transcript. Adcoms are well versed at assessing students in context.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34076 replies376 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 5
    In addition to the school report, there are plenty of demographic reports available and many states track hs districts and performance and make that commonly available.
    edited June 5
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  • mathmommathmom 32357 replies159 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You might ask to see the high school profile and see if it has the information you'd like to see there. Ours had number of each AP taken (but not the average scores), also how many AP Scholars etc there were. For the SAT they had average scores, both for the main test and for each subject test (and I think how many kids took a particular subject test). They had a description of the school district as well (range of income, ethnicities, percentage getting free or reduced lunch.) And the last page was devoted to the colleges the previous year's class had been accepted to.

    Some colleges knew our school pretty well because they have regional admissions officers and were in the school several times each year for interviews, info sessions, college night and college fair.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2211 replies36 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    There is a lot of good information on your school's profile... definitely give it a close read.
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  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger 2805 replies154 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
  • sfSTEMsfSTEM 142 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @roethlisburger That's a tough comparison you're making there. I read that Harvard Crimson article and see that ten top high schools are discussed in terms of dominating their admissions. Considering there are 37,000 high schools (i), your "worse school" count would be something like 36,990 high schools. Alternatively, I see that 11% of schools sent roughly a 1/3 of freshmen at Harvard. Again, 89% of schools are worse? And Harvard admissions are defining that?

    I wouldn't draw any conclusions from that data about whether someone is attending a "worse school" or not. Makes it sound like one is sort of doomed because of that school. Too many great kids never get into Harvard (or the HYPSM schools) but go on to stellar futures to make that assessment.

    (i) https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/hs/hsfacts.html
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  • squ1rrelsqu1rrel 365 replies25 threadsRegistered User Member
    @roethlisburger I turned down Phillips Exeter Academy to go to a public school as it's clear now that if I were drowned out by the rest of the students at PEA I would have a worse chance than if I get valedictorian at my good public school...
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  • CaviteeCavitee 149 replies12 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    squ1rrel I’m not sure that going to a strong school hurts you. My daughter’s graduating class of 100 in North Carolina had 3 going to Princeton, 2 to Stanford and 3 to Penn.
    The private school is always ranked either #1 or #2 in the state and my feeling is if anything it helps. “Rising water raises all boats...”
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  • makemesmartmakemesmart 1479 replies14 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Our DS’ school profile has the number of AP, IB courses offered, percentage of students matriculates into 4-year college, average SAT (break down with Math/EBRW) and ACT (composite) scores, as well as its grading scale. It then highlights specifics about DS’ transcripts (weighted and unweighted GPA, number of As, Bs,..., course rigor. We are not a “well-known” school so the school profile is very important imho for college AOs.
    I do believe going to a highly competitive high schools could be a double-edged sword for average excellent students who want to go to state-flagships or good public universities, where GPAs/class rankings are more important.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29420 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    There is a slight but significant statistical advantage OVERALL to go to a top high school. However, bear in mind, that top rated high schools not only have a lot of top students, but have a lot of kids who are connected thorough celebrity, development and legacy.

    Still, to be a Val at one of these schools that are very much in the radars of the most selective schools counts a whole lot more, most of the time, than at unknown schools. And most schools are unknown schools. It’s not like the AOs make it their missions to visit every high school in the country. They sit and spend hours, even a day, to talk to students and staff at certain high schools regularly. So, even an unconnected Val at one of such schools, especially with high test scores has a better chance at getting into the top colleges.
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  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger 2805 replies154 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Going to a public school that "only offers a few AP courses, and none in science" will almost certainly hurt the OP in college admissions.
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  • sfSTEMsfSTEM 142 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @cptofthehouse Good point about the valedictorian of Boston Latin being more highly regarded than one from a typical high school. But what about the other 99.5% of students? So many people turn out great who are NOT valedictorians. Indeed, being valedictorian doesn't actually mean as much as we make it out to be.

    http://money.com/money/4779223/valedictorian-success-research-barking-up-wrong/

    Going back to what I was saying before: "worse school" is a misnomer that has an odd caste system patina to it.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1440 replies9 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Enough with this "What Would Harvard Say?" mentality. There are 2,000 non-profit colleges, of which at least 1,000 provide top-notch educations. There are literally hundreds of great colleges which would be happy to accept the OP, as long as they take the most rigorous curriculum that their high school provides.
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  • brantlybrantly 3938 replies69 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The regional reps know everything about the high schools they're responsible for. Plus, every high school submits a 'school profile" to every college its student apply to. The school profile includes such info as courses offered, demographics of the student body, economics of the school district, etc.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2211 replies36 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "There are literally hundreds of great colleges which would be happy to accept the OP, as long as they take the most rigorous curriculum that their high school provides."

    I like the all the points you have made in this thread @MWolf. Although I believe there are plenty of great colleges that would happily accept the OP even if s/he DIDN'T take the most rigorous curriculum provided by his/her high school. Decent grades in on-level classes, perhaps an honors or AP in the right areas... plenty of excellent colleges are satisfied with that. Of course a rigorous high school course load may better prepare the student and may keep some doors open a little longer, and while it is important for tippy top schools, that designation is not the only way to a solid education.

    OP, you are fortunate to have another high school close by to give you a choice. No one would expect you to switch, however. As to whether the other school is a better fit for you or your family - socially, academically, and financially - is a decision between you and your parents. No college will penalize you for not taking classes your current school does not offer.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2430 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "which is one of the ways in which they "collude" with Ivies to get as many of their graduates into the Ivies"

    lol, collusion is a strong word for sure, but that is pretty much what is going on.

    "Going to a public school that "only offers a few AP courses, and none in science" will almost certainly hurt the OP in college admissions."

    Ok but colleges are not expecting kids to transfer out of their neighborhood school, if that were the case, no kids from lower-income families whose hs offer zero APs would get into these selective schools, but they do.

    OP - just explain the situation, the college counselors at some schools here in the bay area where you don't take APs till 11th grade recommend mentioning that in the addl info section. It has not hurt these kids wrt UCs, Stanford et al that they have 6-7 APs vs people in other parts of the country that may have 10 or more. You may want to take a C/C or DE class if you want to show that you challenged yourself, but as long as you take the most rigorous, you're fine.
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