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My highschool is unknown, do I have a chance at big name colleges

brownorbustbrownorbust Registered User Posts: 335 Member
edited May 2005 in College Admissions
I am a junior in highschool at a small private school in Michigan. I have been told that the school is very good academically, although we only have 6 AP classes and no 'honors classes", compared to other schools (we have national merit scholars and other students receiving national rewards) in the area and in Michigan in general. I have been looking at colleges alot, and have visited the ones that really interested me(Tufts and Brown). Now a majority of the seniors from my school end up going to either Hope College or Calvin College, both of which are in Western Michigan, and are small LAC's. I am wondering if being from an unknown school will hurt/affect my chances at big name universities? And will the admissions officers see the limit of AP's available ( of which I am taking 4) and limit of dual enrollment at a college, and evaluate me accordingly, as I am paired against people who had like 20 AP's and tons of college credit? Thanks!
Post edited by brownorbust on

Replies to: My highschool is unknown, do I have a chance at big name colleges

  • Ryker556Ryker556 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    yeah, my school is worse though, it only offers 2 ap classes. I'd like to know as well if this hurts my chances.
  • Majayiduke09Majayiduke09 Registered User Posts: 929 Member
    Yes. Schools want to see that you took the most rigorous courses available at your school. They are aware that not every school offers the same classes. It is the guidance counselor's responsibility--on the counselor report--to list the most rigorous courses available in each subject.

    Also, if you want to show initiative, you could take courses at a local college. Basically, you will not be penalized for a lack of opportunities at your school.
  • theblumuffintheblumuffin Registered User Posts: 771 Member
    I don't think so to a certain extent. Sure, kids from prestigious boarding schools will get preference. But seriously , when you think about it most highschools are unknown. The colleges want to know you are doing the hardest course load. If that happens to be 4 Ap's, so be it.
  • dufus3709dufus3709 Registered User Posts: 3,052 Senior Member
    Each high school sends a profile along with your official transcript. The profile will show the number of AP courses offered, the gpa distribution, the racial breakdown at the school, and other information. You can request a copy of the profile (and a copy of your unofficial transcript) from the GC or registrar at your school. Adcoms look at the total person. They consider the high school along with other personal information such as what your father and mother do for a living. An applicant from a pricey private school with a CEO for a mother and an attorney for a father is held to higher standards than someone without those benefits. If the parents are highly educated, they wonder why the son/daugher had trouble in AP Calculus when they were probably getting help at home. (Hint: If your father is a CEO, don't say so. Just say that he is a businessman.) At least one of the readers of your application will be the admissions officer from your geographic area. It is his/her responsibility to know the different high schools in their area.

    Being from a high school like yours can help you. Adcoms go thru the applications in order sorted by state and high school. They want diversity. When they come to one of the high schools that always has 30 applicants, they can't take all of them no matter how good they all are.
  • AlessandroAlessandro Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    I would like to know the same thing. My high school offers AP Calculus AB, AP US History, and AP Economics. Only seniors are allowed to take them, so I just decided to take all of my classes junior (this) and senior (next) at a local junior college. How will this look?
  • m3ssim3ssi Registered User Posts: 218 Junior Member
    i dont think it really matters if your high school is small and unknown.. mine's small.. and compared to the other public high schools near my area.. which are well known for its academic excellence.. it didnt really afftect me much. We don't have many AP classes... and becaeu our school is biased towards IB -_-, there are lots of honors classes that non IB people can't take. Anyways.. my cousleor told me it really didnt matter that the people that apply to the same school as me has like 20 AP courses. Each college gets a profile of your school, so they know what kind of classes are avalible. They're not going to expect you to take a AP euro history class if your school doesnt have it. For the record.. my school has AP calc ABand BC, AP BIO (it's a joke.. it's really IB bio with the AP name attached), AP gov't and Econ, AP stats, AP english, and APUSH. i didnt' take all of them (no calc) and i did just fine..
  • carolyncarolyn Registered User Posts: 7,435 Senior Member
    It might help you to know that the Stanford admissions office reports that the average number of AP courses taken by its freshman class was 4. As for Brown, well, you might want to PM Soozievt, a parent whose daughter is just finishing up her freshman year at Brown. She attended a small high school in Vermont that did not offer ANY AP's and she did quite well in admissions.

    Your school will send a profile to each college you apply to that should list the number of AP classes offered. Colleges, even top colleges, will examine your academic credentials in light of the school profile. They will want to see that you've maximized the opportunities that you had available to you (In fact, they'll also ask your GC if you've taken the most rigorous course load available to you). As M3ssi notes, it doesnt matter if your high school is small and unknown - what matters is what you've done with the opportunities available to you.

    Good luck!
  • raven001raven001 Registered User Posts: 877 Member
    Your school will not hurt it - and for god sakes, don't let it be a "crutch" ! :)
  • admissionsrepadmissionsrep - Posts: 83 Junior Member
    judging you, based on you and not through the prism of the school you attend. I would say, that your SAT 1's, and SAT II (Subject Tests) will probably be weighed even more heavily than if you were coming from a traditonal feeder. This is what we do; we can evaluate a student based on the transcipt with confidence, when we have taken enough students from a particular feeder to enable us to develop an academic profile of the success benchmarks from our traditional feeder.

    References, interviews (if they are evaluative and with admissions staff members) essays, extracurriculars and what you did with your summers are some of the additional ways that admissions reps will be able to differentiate you from others.

    Keep in mind that colleges love to take kids from new schools; remember, every kid from a new school is an opportunity for that college to have their name spread in the new HS community. One thing I'm sure you are aware of and that is that colleges are trying to get more applcations every year; this allows them to deny more kids and appear more selective. Appearing more selective increases yield, spurs alumni giving and attracts full pay families: all things that are necessary for the health of the private institution.

    Hope this helps!

  • dufus3709dufus3709 Registered User Posts: 3,052 Senior Member
    Rereading the original post, I would point out that Harvard had over 18,000 applicants last year. Not that many applicants are coming from the ultra high schools; and of the ones that do, the adcoms can not take all of them without giving up diversity. This thread already lists the reasons that you don't have to be concerned that you will be frozen out due to the type of high school that you attend.

    Colleges do not just take the overall best people from the applicant pool. Colleges try to build freshman classes that represent society as a whole. They informally accept people from different categories such as legacies, URM's, athletes, and international students. They also look for geographic diversity from around the US and the interests of the applicants in different fields of study. They take the best people from each of the informal categories. Legacies and URM's have an advantage when applying since there are less qualified applicants in their categories, and so they have a higher probability of being accepted.

    Once you qualify for admission based upon your curriculum, gpa, rank and standardized test scores, they use the EC's, essays, and recommendations to differentiate between applicants. Colleges don't want well-rounded students. They want well-rounded freshman classes. They don't want to see a list of activities such as biology club, math club, NHS, .... They want to see "passion" and long-term commitment to one or two activities. You show them this in your essays, and your list of EC's backs it up. You need to have the adcom remember you as the person who (blank). You need to stand out from the crowd. Remember that for every applicant accepted, there are four or five almost identical applicants who are denied or waitlisted. Being waitlisted means that you were as qualified as anyone else, but they didn't have room. The process is really a lottery, but the people who stand out have the best shot.
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