Since I’ve been on the topic of grades, a handful of questions have come in (and I get even more at my speeches) about how colleges evaluate high schools, and how that will help or hurt you in the admission process.
First, how do we evaluate schools. Many institutions don’t us high school quality at all. Of those that do, most rely on the counsellor from that region. In other words, admissions offices usually assign an admissions officer to an area (city, state, whatever) and have that officer recruit there AND read the applications from students in that area. Those officers are expected to know the schools in their region, and most rely on the profiles that high schools send out with your transcripts. For the most part this consists of looking at what percentage of graduates from that school are headed to college, how rigorous the curriculum is, and (if available) what colleges did the graduates get into. The last practice is the funniest – it’s when a college actually bases their impression of the quality of a school by where students got in, even if that doesn’t include their own school, so basically buying into the whole idea that where you get in has more value than how well the school fits – crazy! A few institutions get really sophisticated – they track students at their college or university by high school and look at their performance, and then match that against the information above.
But wait, there’s more…Once a school has some idea of what your school is like, how do they use that information? Some will advantage students from high schools they perceive to be more competitive, others will advantage those from high schools they perceive to be less competitive (perhaps on the assumption those students had fewer opportunities). Some will seek high schools where they have more of a track record – others institutions where they have less (perhaps believing they will open a new market for students in that way).
Here’s the bottom line – odds are you will have no idea how an admissions office looks at your school. generally we know that some inflate grades, others are really tough on grades, and that ranking makes less sense in really huge and really tiny schools, and we try to take all of that into account. Also, how we view your school may change in any admissions office from year to year, or even within a year from reader to reader.
Not only do you have no idea how we’ll see your school, and whether it will be to your advantage or disadvantage, you also likely have very little control of that issue. You are where you are! My advice – in the lingo of the Sopranos, fo-gettaboutit. Your school will be viewed however the college or univeristy chooses – worry about what you CAN control – your grades, your courses, and your application.
Next up, back to things within your control – a bit more about picking classes. Be seeing you!
Filed under: Admissions, Applications, College, College Admissions, Deadlines, Education, Family, GPA, Grades, High School, Life, Parents | Tagged: Admissions, College, College Admissions, Education, Family, Grades, High School, Life, University |