I have heard that my chances of getting admitted to an Ivy League college may depend upon the reputation of the high school I attended. Do Ivy League schools take more applicants from certain high schools over others? And, if so, which high schools have the advantage?
Hopeful Ivy Leaguer
It is true that where an applicant attended high school may have a major impact on their chance of being admitted to the Ivy League or other top colleges such as Stanford and the University of Chicago. The successful "sending" high schools are typically called "feeder" schools. They range from private and boarding schools to outstanding public high schools.
There are clear advantages to attending a top-tier high school as is evidenced in a study of college admissions data. The Harvard Crimson recently reported that in Harvard's Class of 2017, 6 percent of admitted students came from only 10 high schools. Eleven percent of high schools with students admitted to Harvard sent 36 percent of students, while 74 percent of schools sent only one student.
Clearly where you went to high school will play a major role in whether or not you are admitted to Harvard.
According to The Crimson, one out of every 20 Harvard freshman attended one of only seven high schools: Boston Latin, Phillips Academy's Andover and Phillips Exeter, Stuyvesant High School in New York, Noble and Greenough School in Massachusetts, Trinity School in New York and Lexington High School in Massachusetts.
Interestingly enough, Stuyvesant, which is a public high school, requires applicants to take a two-and-a-half-hour entrance exam with roughly 3 percent of applicants being accepted — a lower admit rate than Harvard. This is typical for most top high schools on the list. Interestingly enough, the Stuyvesant admissions tests are given in elementary and middle school.
If your high school has a top-notch college counseling program and a curriculum that prepares you for rigorous academic achievement in college, it will make a huge difference in your admission chances. For example, it has been reported that the freshman year at Harvard is just a repeat of the senior year of Phillips Academy Andover. Phillips, which sent 18 students to Harvard this year, accepted only 13 percent of its applicants.
Unique among the country's top high schools is that college counselors also teach classes. That puts them in close contact with students on a regular basis. The counselors also advise students on which courses and standardized tests to take.
Even if you do not prepare at one of these elite schools, top colleges are still looking for diversity across the board. It will be to your credit if you have taken advantage of all that your high school offers to you — in both academic and extra-curricular areas. Top grades and an impressive school or community service record will always resonate with college admissions counselors.