I talked last week about the risk that a student might face if going to a competitive high school. But what happens if you are in the other boat and your high school is not strong. Will that hurt you in applying to competitive colleges?
Colleges look to see if a student has taken advantage of what is offered at their high school. They know not all high schools have 30 AP classes and 100 different clubs.
However, students you will be competing with for admissions will often come from privileged academic backgrounds. If you can challenge your self more than what is available at your high school, that is good. How do you challenge yourself?
Take an on line class or take a class at a local college. Do things that the normal person from your school doesn’t do. Those types of actions will set you aside and make you a competitive candidate for highly selective colleges.
Let me give you an example of a student I worked with several years ago. The student came from a small town in Minnesota with only 2 AP classes offered at the high school. The student did well in his classes and was at the top of his class academically. But he didn’t stop there. He took online classes that were not offered at his high school and did well on those. And he had a good, but not great ACT score of 31. This student was admitted to Stanford.
What helped this student in the admission process was coming from a small town. Stanford gets lots of applicants from the Minneapolis area from some great high schools. Those students don’t typically get admitted because there is nothing unusual about them. But a kid from the rural part of the state looks different. This is one type of diversity that colleges are looking for that is commonly ignored.
Of course, if the student wasn’t at the top of his class and hadn’t taken that extra step to strengthen his academic profile, he probably wouldn’t have been accepted to Stanford regardless of where his home was.
Going to a strong high school and doing well will often lead to more college options. But make no mistake about it. Students coming from smaller and weaker high schools sometimes do very well at getting accepted into competitive colleges.
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