right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

How much of a factor is the quality of the high school?

MotherOfDragonsMotherOfDragons 3934 replies25 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,959 Senior Member
edited April 2016 in Parents Forum
The ranking for our kids' high school just came out and it's ranked around 500 in the US, putting it in the top 1.5-1.9% of US public high schools.

How much does this matter to colleges? My husband and I have been having "what if" discussions, mostly centered around our sophomore daughter who is a B/C student in honors, AP and regular classes, and is in the bottom 25% ranking of the school (3.0 weighted gpa)

We're trying to figure out if being in the bottom 25% class rank at a top 1% school is better than being in the top 25% of an average school, and what that means for her for college. H thinks it means starting out the first two years at a community college because no school we can afford will take her with that class rank, and I think he's being too negative (but I'm a bit of a Pollyana).

What do you think?
edited April 2016
100 replies
· Reply · Share
«1345

Replies to: How much of a factor is the quality of the high school?

  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP 16183 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    it was a big factor for my D. She graduated from the private HS that happens to be #2 among privates in our state. I do not know any others and I have no idea about national ranking of D's HS.
    Community College is not the cheapest way to obtain the college education. CCs do not have much resources and do not offer Merit scholarships. The cheapest way is to obtain the full tuition / free ride at 4 year college based on Merit scholarships.
    · Reply · Share
  • NEPatsGirlNEPatsGirl 2845 replies106 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,951 Senior Member
    Geez, I don't really know but my daughter attended the #1 school in Massachusetts (and was in the top 3 of her class, they don't rank) and #33 in the country and it didn't seem to make any difference in her acceptances which were primarily in the 25-40% acceptance rate ~ she was waitlisted at nearly every school with lower acceptance rates.
    I keep hearing how prep schools feed into certain colleges and that is something I had never considered when choosing a high school.
    · Reply · Share
  • eh1234eh1234 1093 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,097 Senior Member
    I'm not sure anyone can answer this question. Do you have access to Naviance through your school? That will let you see the stats of applicants and accepted students from your daughter's specific HS. You will probably find in-state options that she could be admitted with her current GPA and class rank, but they might not be the schools she wants to attend.

    My D16 is not a top student (3.45 weighted GPA, not the most rigorous course load, a few Cs on the transcript), and I think coming from a HS that is highly ranked (just below 100 nationwide), may have helped her with OOS applications, but there is now way to know for sure. Her school doesn't rank, though. Her ACT scores were about 4 points higher than her HS's average and she only applied to colleges where her score put her in the Top 25%. She's attending an OOS public with a merit scholarship (but only a small one)

    She ended up not applying in-state at all although she could have gotten into one of the so-called "lesser" VA publics. She knew she wouldn't compare well to her classmates at the more selective in-state options, but she got into two OOS publics that are ranked higher than VA Tech. (For some reason, VA Tech seems to want a 4.0 from kids at her HS).

    You may be able to find colleges that don't report or care that much about class rank. If she raises her GPA by even a few tenths of a point and gets strong scores, there is no reason to assume that your daughter won't get into a decent four-year university. If she's struggling in the AP classes, then she might just want to take fewer, especially if she's not aiming for top tier schools.
    · Reply · Share
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 32919 replies3643 discussionsSuper Moderator Posts: 36,562 Super Moderator
    JMO based on no real data but a bottom 25% rank and 3.0 WGPA at a "top HS" will not be considered better than an average schooled top 25% rank with a better GPA. I think the feeder effect will only get you so far. But a GC at a school like that should have a good idea of where students in your D's rank have gone before, and I'm sure it's more than just a CC. What state are you a resident of?
    · Reply · Share
  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School 3318 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,330 Senior Member
    She still has time for improvement in junior year. I also suggest taking her on a few college trips this summer, sometimes that will spark improvement when kids her age realize that college is close. I'd also supplement her schoolwork with tutoring if affordable to your family.

    Sometimes there are underlying problems that are not diagnosed. My sister's family has a child who was diagnosed with a learning disability just as she entered HS. She was spending a lot of time on homework - especially reading- but did very well in math classes. She was a B/C student and her grades improved markedly after treatment.
    · Reply · Share
  • Gator88NEGator88NE 6406 replies195 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,601 Senior Member
    I would think it would have far more impact on in-state public universities and local/regional privates, since these schools are most familiar with her HS.
    · Reply · Share
  • SouthFloridaMom9SouthFloridaMom9 3416 replies30 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,446 Senior Member
    My gut instinct would be to put her in a context where she can really bolster her GPA. It *does* seem like that matters. I might not go to a tiny private where she suddenly jumps in overall grades/ranking, but I might consider a less competitive (but still solid) public.

    As suggested above, it also matters where she is thinking of going for college/university.
    · Reply · Share
  • mathyonemathyone 4193 replies34 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,227 Senior Member
    I think your husband is being too negative. A sophomore who is taking AP and honors classes isn't going to be shut out from 4 year colleges. If she is getting C's in certain subjects, why not put her in regular level classes? At a school like you describe, I'm sure the kids in regular level classes are getting accepted to decent colleges.

    I don't know much about those high school rankings, but unless this is some kind of competitive magnet school, I wouldn't read too much into them. I would talk to the GC for an assessment, not worry about rankings. Getting good test scores will probably also help, did she take the PSAT?
    · Reply · Share
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP 16183 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    "My *question* is about how much of a factor HS ranking is when college admissions counselors are looking at class rank"
    - I cannot answer that because we felt that D's school was simply known in our state and we thought that it was one factor that resulted in her Merit scholarships. She did not apply to any Elite colleges, so we do not know where she would be accepted. We felt that colleges are aware of HSs, they know what kind of students are coming from certain HSs.
    · Reply · Share
  • WorryHurry411WorryHurry411 950 replies162 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,112 Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    From what I read, adcoms want to see where do you stand among your school peers, not where your school stand among other schools as that doesn't reflect on you.

    It matters more for the kids, as rigorous classes and competitiveness pushes them to do better and up their game. Students from bigger and academically rigorous schools adjust better in colleges and have a higher graduation rate then low performing and smaller schools because they are already used to handle issues related to size and rigor.

    edited April 2016
    · Reply · Share
  • wisteria100wisteria100 4162 replies47 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,209 Senior Member
    Quality of the hs does matter, more so to some schools vs others. Most colleges will recalculate the gpa and may add or subtract pts based on the hs the kid is coming from. What is important is how the college perceives the school from the profile and their assessment, which may be different than a magazine ranking. I have heard some adcoms say 'we know an A from school xxx really means an A, so they can be aware of grade inflation/deflation.
    How big is your D's school? If it is small, don't worry so much about being in the bottom 25%.
    Also, rigor is very important, so the fact that she is challenging herself is good. A straight A kid at your school who is not taking any honors or APs is not going to get into a tippy/top school
    · Reply · Share
  • happy1happy1 22477 replies2196 discussionsForum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 24,673 Forum Champion
    Our HS is very competitive and virtually all of the students go to 4 year colleges. Students with B averages found schools to attend that were good matches for their interests/aptitudes. I think she will be fine and will get into a 4 year college as long as she continues to work hard, studies for standardized tests etc.
    · Reply · Share
  • planner03planner03 1334 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,358 Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    It has been said 1000 times over on CC that a 4.0 gpa at StateU is vastly better than a 3.5 at HPY for med/law school admissions, so can the same be said about high schools? Wouldn't it seem better to be the Val at an average school that to go to a prestige high school and get a 3.0?

    plenty of schools dont rank at all and plenty more cant wait to do away with it. so exactly how much COULD it matter?

    Schools that don't rank DO provide gpa distributions to colleges along with transcripts. It doesn't take a detective to figure out what decile a student is in. A college won't know if you are 412/600 vs 452/ 600 but they can discern if a student is in the bottom half of the class.


    edited April 2016
    · Reply · Share
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP 16183 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    College adcoms want students that will make a positive impact on the other students, pull them to the higher academic level and we felt that this was recognized when D. applied as her HS tend to have this kind of kids. But colleges also look at each individual applicant, not only where she came from.
    · Reply · Share
  • PickOne1PickOne1 704 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 704 Member
    Why would she get Bs and Cs in regular, honors and AP classes or is there more of a pattern here ? Sometimes you need to really work on checking the boxes on rubrics and the syllabus to get As. Review those with her at the beginning of the semester. Encourage her to go to the teacher to discuss her progress. If she is having difficulty on just tests, maybe there is a reading issue or something going on. If she isn't getting As on homework, make her spend more time at her desk checking her work and making sure she has done all the problems. Projects, review together before handing in. Is she keeping up with reading ? Whatever ...

    If the Cs are in AP classes, then maybe lighten up on that, but if any class gets a C, then there is another issue going on.

    A 3.0 weighted isn't great .. but maybe this is a vigorous school that grades low ... maybe there are just lots of really excellent kids heading off to top 20 schools every year.

    Naviance and GC are your friends. Since she is only a sophomore, she can improve her grades, get involved in meaningful ECs, find good match schools that are affordable, get some tutoring, whatever ... You can get good recommendations on strategies from GCs as well as individual teachers, maybe pick the ones she likes to talk to, since they may have more insight on her issues than someone she is hiding from or that gives her an A ...

    Also, she may be able to start working on taking more classes that use her strengths, writing, reading, research, math, science and less that are hard or uninteresting.

    I wouldn't lose sleep since there are lots of schools in the top 500 that will take her .. probably in the top 200 too .. but rather than fretting, i would try to make the most out of these years for her.

    Any study habit improvements will help her tremendously in college too.
    · Reply · Share
  • MotherOfDragonsMotherOfDragons 3934 replies25 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,959 Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    Do you have access to Naviance through your school?

    Unfortunately, no. I don't know why they don't use it; it seems like such a handy tool.
    If she's struggling in the AP classes, then she might just want to take fewer, especially if she's not aiming for top tier schools.

    Yep, next year she only has one IB course (Psychology), and the rest are regular classes-not honors or AP. It seems to be the best way to both have her feel better about how she's doing (she currently has an A in her regular chem class), and her overall gpa.
    . But a GC at a school like that should have a good idea of where students in your D's rank have gone before, and I'm sure it's more than just a CC. What state are you a resident of?

    We live in Georgia, she has to have a 3.0 to qualify for the HOPE scholarship (they do a different weighting than the school so she may not qualify at this point). The GC's are not very competent in our school, unfortunately. There are local directional colleges here that she should be able to get into with her GPA, but she was looking out of state (Florida, which is where we'll probably relocate once she goes to college).
    Sometimes there are underlying problems that are not diagnosed.

    We had her checked because we were worried. In a nutshell, very bright, VERY creative, average executive functioning skills. The psychologist was amused that we brought her in-in his estimation her parents are overachieving worrywarts and she's fine.
    Getting good test scores will probably also help, did she take the PSAT?

    She took the ACT when she was 12 for summer camp, got a 23 on the math section (I can't remember the other scores, but we needed the math for summer camp), and took the psat last october and got a 620 math and a 650 verbal without studying-there's no doubt she's a bright kid, but when you look at the fact that she's ranked 579 out of 720 kids, it looks SO bad. I feel bad that I put her in a school that's so competitive that a 3.0 puts you in the academic basement.
    It matters more for the kids, as rigorous classes and competitiveness pushes them to do better and up their game. Students from bigger and academically rigorous schools adjust better in colleges and have a higher graduation rate then low performing and smaller schools because they are already used to handle issues related to size and rigor.

    I hope so! Her school is huge- 3,000 kids.
    what's my ultimate goal here?

    @Corinthian that's an excellent question. My ultimate goal is to have her go to a college where she can be happy and successful with whatever she wants to do as a major (she doesn't know), that doesn't cost us $64,000/year. Her sister is 1 year older and is a driven, high stats kid who we are merit hunting for, so we're trying to be really careful that we don't make D2 feel bad about not being as academic as D1. I think my husband is aiming too low when he says community college-I've attended CC's and they (in my opinion) are not the best places for fostering academic success. Some of them were really terrible, and if I hadn't been an adult who knew how to battle for every.single.grade I wouldn't have done well at them.
    Why would she get Bs and Cs in regular, honors and AP classes or is there more of a pattern here ?
    Yes, the pattern is she thinks homework is boring and doesn't love to do it, and can usually get A's on tests and get really bad grades on her homework and any other busywork-we've been tearing our hair out over it for years, but it's who she is. We do see that as she gets older she is realizing she can't skate anymore, but it's kind of a big hole she put herself in.
    If your D is learning.... actually learning... and stretching herself academically I wouldn't worry.

    She is learning, and the teachers (for the most part, she's had a few stinkers, including a current AP Comp Sci teacher with no programming experience who uses YouTube to teach his class) are good. I guess I just wondered if an "average" school would be a place to let her shine-grass is greener kind of thing, but really I don't know if her class rank would be different in an easier school.

    I do hope that class rank isn't the black mark it appears to be when schools are deciding on whether to admit her or not in a few years. I didn't even think to care about it that much-I was the parent who thought a C in an AP class was as good as a B in a regular class. Mmmm, that was probably not wise.

    thank you, everyone, for your responses, I appreciate them so much!









    edited April 2016
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity