It’s a conversation I have way too often. Someone will think that just because they go to a competitive high school, that this will allow them to have lower grades than students from weaker high schools. And it just isn’t true.
Colleges do consider the quality of your high school. But the most selective colleges are getting students with good grades who also attend very competitive high schools. And colleges are not necessarily going to hold it against you because you happened to go to a weaker high school. Whether a strong high school or weak, it’s all about the grades.
This problem can be particularly acute with BS/MD programs because so many use GPA as a criteria to see if you can even apply to the program. Going to a strong high school and getting a lower GPA does you no good if you don’t even get considered by the BS/MD program.
So does that mean that you shouldn’t go to a competitive high school? No. What it means is that you need to give some thought on which high school to attend if you have choices. The strongest candidate will go to a competitive high school and get good grades. For BS/MD programs, and most highly selective colleges, that means you want to be in at least the top 10% of the class.
If you don’t think you can do that at the competitive high school, then going to a less competitive high school, and doing well there, may be a better option.
Sahar shamsi says
Hi Mr johnson
My son is ninth grade and I insist he goes to the high school with 9 ranking and he doesn’t like to go that school.his current school has 7 ranking.
What is your suggestion. Because we moved from my country ( Iran)only for my children future and I want he goes to the best university that he can.
I apologize for my bad writing because I don’t speak English.
A worry mother
Todd Johnson says
Normally we don’t worry about the ranking of a high school in college admissions. Students from all types of high schools can get into any type of college including some very selective ones. It is often more of an issue of how the student does in high school. Getting good grades in an average high school is better than getting average grades in a good high school.
I’m an eighth-grader, and I’m interested in bs/md programs. We live in tri-state area and i’m from India. I got into a really competitive public high school, where the top-notch students from our whole county attend (21 towns) (which has medical-related dual enrollment courses and EMT B certification as part of the curriculum and some medical-related clubs, the school is geared toward kids interested in the medical field only ) its around 10 mins away from our home and two catholic high schools with a full scholarship, one of the catholic high school is 30 mins train ride(about 45min total commute one way). Still, a lot of kids from our town attend the school. The other school is 20 mins car ride from our home. Both catholic high schools have some dual enrollment (science/medical)courses but nothing close to the public school. The public school is ranked top ten in our state(Niche). The catholic schools are not that highly ranked. But all three schools have plenty of AP courses and clubs and athletic programs(unfortunately I’m not into any sports). Diversity wise the public school has a little bit more Asian/Indian representation, I think. Class size wise not much difference but catholic school has a little smaller class size. I would really appreciate it if you could give us some i/p into which school I should select and why. The deadline for acceptance is in 2 weeks(sorry for the rush).
Todd Johnson says
I can’t give you specific advice because I am not working with you and there is more information that I would need. Generally I would look at the high school where you think you will be the strongest student at. BS/MD programs, like more colleges, don’t care as much about where you went to high school but how did you do in high school. The higher your GPA the better assuming everything else is the same.
The medically related courses and activities would be nice to have at the public school but not that big of a deal. Since most high schools don’t have these types of opportunities, BS/MD programs won’t discriminate if one student has them and another student does not. They much prefer to see a student with a strong broad background rather than one that is just focused on the sciences. Getting EMT certification would be good since many states don’t allow this until the person is 18 years old.
I hope this was helpful.