Now let’s talk about high school. Specifically, which high school you go to. If you’re already in high school, then it’s probably too late to do anything. But there’s many people that did transfer during their high school careers and still did well when admission decisions came around – I know of someone who transferred sophomore year and went to UChicago and another that transferred Junior year and is going to Yale. There are a couple of different high schools around the country and we’ll try to go over each.
Very Selective Private High Schools – Phillips Academy, Phillips Exeter, Harvard- Westlake, Raffles (in Singapore), etc. Google G20 and you’ll see a pretty good list there. For these schools, it is common to have people even in the second decile go on to the lower ivies and schools in Group 4. This is simply due to both having a high concentration of smart people and rich people with connections. These schools also offer financial aid if you’re poor so it’s still a viable option if you’re not loaded with cash. Read up on each school’s website for admissions info. Most of these schools are boarding schools so you don’t have to live nearby either. A lot of people don’t know about this so do look into it if you think it would be a good option for you. I wish I could’ve done it if I had known about it when I was in high school.
Magnet and other Good Public High Schools – Whitney High School, Troy High School, Oxford Academy, Stuyvesant High School, Thomas Jefferson High School, etc. Go on Newsweek or US News for a ranking of these schools. These schools are similar to the private high schools, with the exception that the public schools typically have less kids of alumni or wealthy families. You usually have to take some sort of test to get into these public “magnet” schools or live in the right school district. These schools are typically large and very competitive, so watch out for high workloads and lots of stress. I enjoyed my experience and definitely enjoyed it more compared to a regular public high school. If you’re smart you probably don’t want to go to the schools in the next paragraph. Being valedictorian actually means something at these schools and will usually set you up for the Big Kahunas. The valedictorian of Troy usually goes to Stanford for example.
Your Everyday Public High School: Yeah, you probably are at a disadvantage, but don’t get too worried! The only downfall to this is that your school probably doesn’t offer stellar extracurriculars that can distinguish you from all the other qualified applicants out there. Thus, you must do things on your own – start a company, do independent internships or research, etc. You have to overcompensate for your school’s ranking – most likely you will have the time to do so because your curriculum won’t be as rigorous as the private or magnet schools. Overall, if you want to see what your chances are for college admissions, look back on your school’s history and compare yourself to those before you. Schools usually have this graph with SAT score and GPA that shows the percentage of students from that high school admitted to any particular college. This will give you a good indication of your changes. You can also always just transfer to a better high school like I did because if you stay at the regular public high school, you will be at a disadvantage compared to your peers in college because they have had 4 years of more advanced/harder curriculum than you.
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