Does Your High School Matter When It Comes to College Acceptance?

By Amanda Roschli

Applying to college can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. Undoubtedly, insecurities may arise as you are being compared to your classmates and thousands of other students from around the world. You may wonder if you took enough AP classes, got involved in a variety of extra curricular activities, or if your SAT scores are competitive. You may also have concerns about the high school that you attended (e.g. parochial, independent, or public school) and whether college admissions officers actually take that into consideration when selecting new students for admission.

Are independent school students more likely to get accepted to college than public school students?

Well, it’s tough to say. Guidance counselors at independent schools have been known to thoroughly prepare students for college acceptance throughout all four years of high school.

  • There’s a stronger emphasis on the college counseling process when compared to public schools.
  • According to College Transitions, counselors in public high school’s report spending 23% of their time on college-related counseling, while independent school counselors spend 53%.
  • Independent school counselors have more contact with colleges, and take time to advocate for their students.

College attendance rates are also higher among independent school students as compared to public school students because the learning environment is often heavily concentrated on academics and motivating students to be successful in their future education.

But hang on, there is no need to get discouraged if you attended a public high school. There are many high-quality public high schools that employ talented instructors, offer great counseling services, and have an advanced placement curriculum. In addition, the school that you hail from is not always the deciding factor when it comes to college acceptance. An average student from a top independent school is not necessarily guaranteed college acceptance over an excellent student from a lesser-known public school. What’s most important is whether you took full advantage of all of your educational opportunities, such as taking a strenuous curriculum and getting involved in lots of extra curricular activities. Diversity also matters to college admissions officers, and it’s not always about accepting students who have had financial and educational advantages.

The bottom line is that independent school students typically have a leg up on college preparation, as well as higher college attendance rates, but that doesn’t mean that independent school students have the college acceptance advantage. Here’s a fun fact: 65% of current Harvard students attended a public high school, according to College Transitions.

Amanda Roschli is a senior Mass Communication major at Towson University. Her special interests include media, sports, writing and advertising. 

President’s Notes
Jonathan Oleisky

Jonathan Oleisky

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