If you are looking to go to college then you might be wondering if the ranking of your high school will matter.
This post will show you a number of ways that the ranking of your high school can matter as well as a number of ways in which it does not matter.
So, does high school rankings matter to college admissions? All else being equal, being from a higher-ranked high school will improve your chances of being admitted to a selective college.
There are actually a number of reasons that being from a higher-ranked high school will improve your chances of getting into a selective university. However, there are many other factors that will impact your chances of getting admitted and being from a lower-ranked school doesn’t mean that it will be impossible for you to be admitted.
Being from a feeder school can be a big advantage
The data shows that being from a highly ranked high school does help with getting admitted into college. In a report done by the Harvard Crimson, it was found that 11% of the schools sent 32% of the students in the Harvard class of 2017 (source.) It also showed that the top ten high schools sent 6% of the students.
This means that being from a select group of high schools did improve the chances of students in getting admitted to Harvard.
However, the data showed that 74% of the high schools sent only one student and around 50% of the students only came from one high school. This means that being from a high school that has a lower ranking does not mean that you won’t be able to get admitted.
Higher ranked high schools will be able to give better guidance
One reason that being from a high school with a higher ranking could improve your chances of getting into a selective school is that the staff will be able to give you better guidance.
This is because there will have been many students, that went to the high school in the past, that went on to get admitted to very selective colleges. The staff at the high school will be able to tell you things that those students did in order to get admitted. This is not something that the teachers at lower-ranked schools will be able to help with as much.
Higher ranked schools will likely have more extracurriculars
Another reason that being from a feeder school is beneficial is that there will be more extracurricular activities for you to get involved with.
Extracurricular activities are an important part of an application when applying to selective colleges. Leaving the extracurricular activities section blank will significantly reduce your chances of getting accepted.
Highly selective schools will have extracurricular activities that you can get involved with such as:
- Student government
- Academic teams and clubs
- Debate teams
- Music, drama, visual arts, etc
- Culture clubs
- Student newspaper
All of these are things that can help to improve a college application. With that being said, not only feeder schools offer these clubs, so it would help to consider what clubs your own school offers and how it would help your application.
References at higher ranked schools will likely be better
Another thing to consider is that if you have a letter of recommendation from someone that has previously recommended other students that have gone on to be successful at a certain college then it will be worth more.
This is another reason that being from a highly ranked school can give students an advantage since many past students will have gone on to be successful at certain colleges.
Higher ranked schools will have a more demanding course load
The course load that you take in high school will have an impact on your ability to get accepted into highly selective universities.
This is another area where highly ranked high schools will give their students an advantage since they will have a more demanding course load and they will offer more classes that you can take. If a student, at one of these schools, takes a reasonably demanding courseload and gets good grades then it will significantly help their chances of acceptance.
With that being said, admissions committees will consider the classes that your high school offered. If you take the most demanding course load that your high school offers and do well then this will help your chances of acceptance even if you are not from a highly ranked high school.
Your grades matter more
While being from a highly ranked high school can help your chances of getting admitted to a selective university, there are also many other factors that matter even more.
The grades that you get and the courseload that you take is one of those factors. If you take lots of AP and get good grades classes, do well on the SAT and SAT subject tests then it will greatly improve your chances of acceptance.
Your essay is also important
Another thing that will impact your chances of getting admitted to a selective college is your essay. If your essay is poor then it will reduce your chances of getting admitted by a large margin.
This is an area where students from highly ranked schools won’t have a very large advantage over you. While their teachers will be able to advise them on what better admissions essays look like it is also the case that there is a lot of practical advice that you can find online.
It depends on the university that you are applying to
Another thing to consider is that it does depend a lot on the university that you are applying to.
If you are applying to elite universities then it will cause the ranking of the high school to have a larger impact due to the reasons mentioned above. However, if the college is selective but not one of the elite tier colleges then it will mean that the ranking of your high school will be less important.
Class rank is just as important
Another thing to consider is that your class rank is also just as important. If you are from a lower-tiered high school but you do really well compared to your peers then it will help to improve your chances of being admitted. This would especially be the case if you also take a heavier course load and participate in extracurricular activities as well.
It’s not something that is under your control
Finally, while it is true that being from a high school with a higher ranking will improve your chances of getting admitted to a selective college it is also true that it is not something that is in your control. Worrying about things that are not in your control will not be very helpful for your goals.
On the other hand, taking full advantage of the things that are in your control will help you to accomplish your goals. There are many students that get admitted into elite institutions every year despite being from a lower-ranked high school. If you focus on maximizing what you have going for you then you will be able to give yourself a good chance of getting admitted as well.