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However, once your academic record falls below one or two B's (and the rest A's), then it varies highly and usually the super-elite schools won't take you. However, good schools may still take you.
This was not my observation at my kids' magnet. While grades were important, the total package was more important--and I think going to the magnet helped many of the kids develop the total package.
As highly selective STEM college admissions enroll more and more students who have all 8 STEM APs, dual college enrollment while in high school and stratospheric test scores (see some of the "admitted" threads on CC), it becomes more difficult to compete for ADMISSIONS if you are a good hardworking bright kid, attending a average or "good" public school. It is more a commentary on the state of public American secondary education than on our bright kids.
Our local "excellent" public school, for example, has a 55% minority drop out rate and has not gotten a student accepted to MIT/Caltech in recent living memory. And very bright science oriented kids go there, and eel hard-working while taking their one senior AP science class.
ONCE ADMITTED, the difference in preparation is stark, and freshman science classes at highly selective colleges are filled with intel finalists, kids with AP everything and 3 years of molecular genetics research prior to setting foot in college. College freshmen aiming for majors in STEM fields who do not have strong preparation wash out quickly.
I think a case can be made that the standard STEM high school curriculum offered to our best students in America (algebra, geometry, trig, pre-calculus and maybe a little calculus, intro bio, chem, physics and one advanced AP class), is utterly inadequate for research university preparation.
I think you send them to where they will be happy and challenged and not worry about GPA and college admissions.
HS is not really about getting into college, because smart kids don't have to go to Harvard to realize their potential.