Do Competitive High Schools Make It Harder To Get Into Top Colleges?

So long story short, I am moving from a not-so-academically competitive public high school to a pretty intensely competitive public school that keeps sending students to top public and private universities (eg. Purdue, Berkeley, UMich, Rice, etc). However, I am worried that the more competitive academic atmosphere at my new high school will reduce my chances of getting into my top choice universities (Purdue, OSU, Baylor to list a few) since more students from the same high school will be applying there. And judging from the 2 Cs and 1 D on my transcript, I am nervous that this will also hurt my chances of admission even if I take 2 or more AP classes, along with strong ECs and test scores at my new school at the time I apply. Does anyone have some advice or personal experience? I would also like to mention that my old high school does not send students to top schools every year, but rather every other year. Is there anything I could do to not only compensate for a few poor grades, but also make myself stand out? Current GPA: 3.11
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What year are you in school? Are you instate for any of the schools you listed?

A 3.11 is very low for Purdue and OSU (I don’t know anything about Baylor), regardless of where you go to HS.

IMO, competitive HSs are great for preparing you for the rigors of college, not necessarily for college admission, especially if you aren’t in the top 10% of the class.

I think your GPA, including 2 Cs and a D, will be difficult to overcome—especially since the school you’re coming from (by your own description) isn’t particularly rigorous. I agree with the above poster that a highly competitive HS means that you have more “competition” from very strong classmates applying to many of the same schools. However, in my experience colleges tend to go deeper into that class when they know the HS is very strong and that the kids will be well prepared. So if a given college might have taken 1 or 2 at a less rigorous school, they might take 5-7 kids from a top HS.

In general, it is tougher to get into top colleges from more competitive schools. I decided not to go to Phillips Exeter Academy for this exact reason—competition there is quite cutthroat, and those who get into the tippy tops from PEA are almost exclusively in the top 30% of their class.

Am I reading this correctly? It looks like you are saying that you have a GPA of 3.11 at a “not-so-academically competitive public high school”. Is this correct?

If so, why are you moving to a “pretty intensely competitive public school”? Is the issue just that your family is moving?

I think that you need to plan to work very hard in high school, and see what sort of grades you can pull off. For a relatively large public university such as OSU I would not worry about ECs – focus on getting your grades up.

Also, are your poor grades in math or languages? Both are areas where what you are going to learn next year will depend a lot on what you learned last year, or at least on what you were supposed to learn last year. I think that you will want to do some work over what is left of the summer to get stronger in your weaker subjects, so that you can show up at school in September being better prepared for next year’s course work.

If you can afford it, then you might want to get a tutor to help you in your weaker subjects.

I would only do AP classes if it is in a subject that you like where you are already getting solids A’s.

The answer to you’re main question, is Yes, it can. However, it can also benefit a student. Depends upon the student and the circumstances. For example, in Texas, the top X% of high school classes get an auto admit to UT. It can hurt if you are at a very competitive small school where the grading curve is tough. My nephew missed the cut off by 2 students. With His Gpa, he’d have made that % at a number of schools. It was a bitter pill for the family as getting into UT is highly competitive if you don’t make that cut. He did not get in.

In your case, your low grades lead to questions as to how well you can do in a more competitive school and whether selective schools will forgive those earlier grades. In general a “B” at Competitive ive High does not an “A” at Not-So-Competive High make.

My poor grades are in math and chemistry. However, if I get a high act like about a 30, and a gpa of about 3.4, is that still too low?

Ultimately the bank account determine where you actually go to school. And don’t expect you’re parents are going to pay triple the tuition to send you out of state. I wouldn’t speculate on those schools right now. Just get the best grades you can and score high on your SAT. Once you have the “money” talk with your parents, you’ll have a better idea about where you go to school.