High School Grade Relevance

Hey guys! I’m a high school junior currently (11th grade). I aspire to go to a top college, Columbia and UPenn being on my top lists, but my school is very difficult. I know it seems like a complaint, but maybe it is best explained.
I take 7 APs in my school, usually because it is part of school culture. Usually if you don’t, you are already stuck at top 25% of your class. The problem is that many of my teachers refuse to give As in my classes. Some teachers don’t even have 100s as a part of the rubric. So many of my grades are high Bs instead, even when I pull quite a few all nighters trying to study. Multiple choice examinations are not a problem because a question is usually right or wrong, but they make sure to put enough essay grades that it really hurts the GPA. In addition to this, these classes don’t allow me to do many extracurricular activities. When I observe neighboring schools, they get higher grades for less amount of work.
Will colleges even take this into consideration? My school is amongst the top ten high schools in the country, but does that account for the low grades?
If my standardized test scores are perfect scores, would they understand even then?

Thank you very much for any responses made. I truly appreciate it

I am also a junior! I think that colleges want to see you take challenging classes and do well. After all, these top colleges set very high standards and want to take students who do well in a competitive environment.

Top colleges are very difficult. If you can’t hack it at a difficult high school you won’t be able to handle it at schools like Penn and Columbia.

While I agree with @TomSrOfBoston , I think it is only fair to point out that the admissions folks at these schools know a great deal about the tippy top high schools.

High schools have a school profile, that describes the competitive environment there - what the top kids are getting, what courses are offered, etc. If the norm at your HS is that kids must take 7 APs to be considered for the top 25%, these colleges will know this. You may not need perfect standardized test scores to be seriously considered.

I would suggest you meet with your HS guidance counselor to ask them about Naviance - where do kids with your background typically get accepted. It is possible that you have a reasonable chance at the Ivies, and also possible that your chances are so slim that you should set your goals elsewhere.

There are some private high schools that send most of the top half of their students to fantastic high schools. There are some public high schools where the valedictorian with perfect SATs cannot get into any of the elite colleges.

Be grateful that you are attending a top quality high school - many many kids do not have this opportunity. It sounds like you are challenging yourself, and you are probably learning more than many kids in “lessor” schools. You will likely be more prepared to do well in college than most kids.

Your school has its own college rep at the admissions office who is aware of all the things you mention. College admissions offices look at Grade distribution: that is, they see how many students get As, A-s, Bs, and so forth, in a particular course. For example if the highest grade in BC Calculus is a B+, then you’ve done really well if you got a B+. But if the best grade was an A, the B+ doesn’t look good no matter how hard you study. By the same token, if most of the class gets an A then your own A (if you get one) won’t have as great an impact as if you were only one of a few students who earned an A.
If you have perfect Board scores and you score “5” on your AP exam the person in the admissions office assigned to your school will know the circumstances and grading system at your school.

Just an additional question/thought…
Are any kids getting As in any courses? Although you say some teachers refuse to give 100s, do they give out As? Generally an A encompasses grades ranging from a 92/93 to 100%. Some schools consider anything over a 96.8% as an A+. (Some teachers will never give A+s even to students with 99% averages: simply against personal or school policy). Of course some of your teachers may refuse to give A grades but then there has to be a top grade in such a class.
Lastly, some schools give out Bs as the top grade for “getting everything correct” or "meeting all of the teacher’s expectations. A grades are reserved for students whose work is beyond correct or fine…As are reserved for truly exceptional work

Closing thread. The question was asked several months ago, and the OP has not returned.