Attending urban public HS helpful for college admissions?

My daughter attends a public low-income high school in Oakland (all public high schools in Oakland are low-income). This may be outdated information, but I’ve heard that attending a school like this can help rather than hinder the chances of being admitted to certain colleges. Her school offers ~10-12 AP courses and she’s taken 5. Her school sends kids to UCs, CSUs and maybe a couple each year to the Ivy League, but the majority do not attend college it seems. Anyway, I’m wondering if and how her high school could impact her admission to various universities.

If she ranks in the top 10 (preferably along the lines of tippy top) yes it’ll help.
What 5 APs? (it counts)
Does she have a job?
What does she do out of school?
Is the school Title I, are most students on free/reduced lunch?
(This will matter)
Is your EFC low? Did you or your spouse graduate from a 4y college?
What’s her current list and have you run the NPC?

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She’s not in the top 10%, even with an unweighted 3.9. Maybe the top 20-25%.
APs: Bio, stats, environmental science, world history. So maybe just 4. Plus one dual-enrollment course.
She has a job, 16 hours/week (stocker at grocery store)
She did track and rowing pre-covid. Hopes to do track again in the spring, but of course college decisions will have been made. Also had a paid internship last year and this year, related to health which is related to what she wants to study.
School is definitely Title 1.
I believe our EFC is about $35,000, but I’m not sure if that’s for both kids in college, or just her. It’s definitely a stretch for us, living in expensive Bay Area.
Both parents have bachelor’s degrees.
Her top choice is probably Northeastern, but I think it’s a reach both academically and financially.
Cal Poly would be great too, but probably also a reach.
She says the UCs don’t offer her major (kinesiology or related) but they are probably her match schools. Have not run NPC.

Thank you for your information!

What impact does Title 1 have an admissions?

The following may be of interest to her:

Here is what UC admission for fall 2020 entering students looked like:

Recalculate your HS GPA with GPA Calculator for the University of California – RogerHub . Use the weighted capped version for the table below.

Fall 2020 admission rates by campus and HS GPA range from Freshman fall admissions summary | University of California :

Campus 4.20+ 3.80-4.19 3.40-3.79 3.00-3.39
Berkeley 37% 14% 2% 1%
Davis 86% 55% 16% 7%
Irvine 60% 38% 9% 1%
Los Angeles 38% 8% 1% 1%
Merced 98% 97% 95% 88%
Riverside 97% 90% 65% 30%
San Diego 78% 39% 8% 1%
Santa Barbara 81% 40% 9% 2%
Santa Cruz 92% 82% 59% 26%

These are for the whole campus. Different divisions or majors may have different levels selectivity (usually, engineering and computer science majors are more selective).

Is that rank weighted or unweighted?
The fact you’re in a Title I school will help at some private schools despite your actual EFC. However they don’t often offer Kinesiology or similar.

Kinesiology or exercise science or movemrnt science would be found at the CSUs.
She could try and apply for Honors Program at those (Sfsu? Chico?)
Uc Davis has her major, it could be one of her low reaches.
Washington State does too, not sure if it’s in WUE?
Uarizona has scholarships for GPA, and 3.9 is an automatic 30,000 scholarship per year+ excellent shot at Honors college.

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If she is an underrepresented minority, low income, first gen to college, yes - then if she is a high-achieving, high-scoring applicant from a poorly ranked inner-city school with a low-income student population, it can help. However, if she herself is not these things, it will not help her that she is coming from that school.

A friend had her bright, high-achieving kid attend an inner-city magnet school that was not selective, virtually all low-income, URM kids, instead of the excellent public high school in their innner-ring suburb. The kid was not low income, nor URM, nor first gen to college. She thought it would give him a tremendous boost in college applications. Turned out to be a disaster. He didn’t get in anywhere he applied, which was no surprise to me, but a tremendous shock to her. She really thought that he would get into the same schools that the top 10% URM kids got into, from this low-achieving school! Kid wound up taking a year off, and then starting at a branch state college the next year.

If she is applying for California public schools, race is no longer considered in admission, and if your EFC is 35K, she’s not low income. I’d say she needs to apply to schools that match her GPA/class percentile, and her scores, assuming she’s submitting, without expecting that the school she is coming from is going to boost her applications.

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I don’t think she could get into UCB. Plus it’s way too close to home and IMO huge and impersonal (we know several kids there currently). I’m pushing for Davis, but daughter is dismissing it (we will tour though, and that may open her mind). She really loved the East Coast though…

How do AOs know that a school is Title 1? Do counselors put it on the counselor report? My kid’s transcript states the percentage of students who go to 4 year colleges, but it doesn’t mention that the school is Title 1. We live in a small town, and this is our only choice of public school, so it’s not like we are trying to game the system.

High achieving Title I/reduced free lunch schools’ students, even if from lower middle to middle class rather lower income/poor themselves, are helped for admissions. For middling or low achieving students it’s the opposite.
But it’s not a magic bullet.
Sometimes people transfer thinking it’ll help them because the local students are assumed to be low achieving. That also doesn’t work (basically, it’svery hard to game the system at very selective colleges because adcoms have seen it all). But a strong student who stays at their local school and excels academically/helps their community? Yes, it matters.
I don’t know how it works for UCs, it was my understanding the school itself matters when adcoms evaluate the context but I don’t know for sure. I DO know for sure school attended is taken into account both positively and negatively at selective private colleges.
Title I/reduced&free lunch criteria may appear in the school profile. It provides context.
But, yes, I agree that while it may be a nudge “all other things being equal” it’s not going to upend a list and she should apply to the colleges that match her profile. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear this is not considered a hook.

She is not low-income, not URM (if I translated that correctly), not first gen. She does attend our neighborhood school though. I have heard of kids coming from a neighboring wealthy city for just the reason that your friend’s kid did, but that was several years ago. I don’t think it’s a “thing” anymore.

Does she have high test scores? Do her stats match/exceed any of the UC universities? Or do you think she should apply to less-selective California public 4 yr colleges?

I am sorry to discourage you, but I think you would be hard-pressed to find a selective private college or a selective public college in the Northeast that is going to meet her fin need. The California public college system is likely to be your best bet. That being said, there will be less-selective private colleges in the Northeast that would offer her merit money that might bring the cost down to 35K/yr or lower.

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Yes, this is what I’m thinking too. She loved the urban feel of Boston and there is no place in California that can match that. SF is close but also too close to home! But I’ve been telling her to consider the East Coast for grad school.

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Her rank is based on weighted GPA, and honestly, I don’t know if that’s good or bad? I just checked Washington State and yes, it’s a WUE. That’s amazing about U of A, but daughter says no way to Arizona. We toured Chico a few years ago and she liked it, but it has since fallen off her list.

Run the NPC on

  • Simmons: in Boston, good scholarships (doesn’t meet need though), has Exercise science and excellent nursing school (known for its health programs).
  • Drew: close to NYC (which it uses for classes), good pre-Health programs, good merit scholarships.
  • University Cincinnati (especially for the co-ops) urban, sleek architecture, the closest you get to Northeastern but easier to get into
  • UScranton, John Carroll, Temple, Xavier Ohio, Chatham, Capital OH
    Not sure it’s the right environment or good value compared to UCD/CSUs, but: Miami Ohio, SUNY Cortland.

Perhaps see if she might revisit her opinion on UA (would she be willing to attend a virtual tour, including honors college with its new dorms and revamped curriculum?)

Is it too large? Too far? not “northeasty” enough?
Would she like UCD better?

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Look into some colleges with kinesiology in the Boston area and run the Net Price Calculators. These both have her major and may come in around your ballpark.

Simmons is right in the heart of college life in Boston.

Endicott is in the suburbs on the North Shore of Mass.


our S20 was similar to your friend’s kid; parentologist. 34 ACT/ AP Distinction/ 3.97 GPA at a 75% low-income -low-ACT- average -low-AP-pass-rate -but-decent-GPA-so-kids-can-graduate school. (his EFC was similar to above)

He nibbled at some top schools, but nothing came of it. Some of the URMs and Low EFC kids had much better luck over the past few years from his school; like a 28 ACT to Harvard. I couldnt figure out why. Privileged sounding essays? ECs that had nothing to do with his major? Not strong enough math ACT score? Did AO’s think he just didnt have a solid education at this very low school even though he was shiny? Ahh. … its over with now and he’s quite happy on his great merit scholarship out of state. :slight_smile:

but I didnt see any help or boost from this situation.

The fact her rank is weighted indicates classmates have much higher rigor. It gives an idea of how her “contextualized” transcript will be read and it won’t help.

We drove by Endicott and it was too suburban for her. Will look into Simmons though.

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Got it. You have a tremendous amount of knowledge and it has been very helpful!