But I Don’t Attend the Best High School!
Lots of college applicants are scared that not attending the most competitive high school in their area will spell out rejection from the most selective colleges. Some students are scared that colleges will know they weren’t accepted to the best high school and thus make judgements about their academic ability. These students couldn’t be more wrong.
In fact, many students argue the opposite — that attending a competitive high school makes getting into an elite college even harder. Students at Stuyvesant High School, an elite magnet school that’s commonly thought of as the best high school in New York, call this “clogging” the applicant pool. Clogging is a phenomenon where so many talented students from the same high school apply to the same few colleges, that even the great students have trouble standing out to these colleges.
Top colleges often seek to craft a diverse class. As a result, they can’t fill their class with too many applicants from the same high school, even if they’re all qualified.
Anna Gonzales, a graduate of Deerfield Academy said, “[Going to boarding school] hurts some students because they would be much better ranked in their class and more competitive applicants if they stayed at less elite local schools.” That said, Gonzales feels that boarding school gave her opportunities she would never have had at a local school.
Sarah Kim who graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy said that just because Exeter has a great reputation does not mean it has good college guidance programs for its students.
“Exeter doesn’t really focus on college admissions. Exeter focuses on giving you an education, which is why fewer and fewer students decide to go to Exeter every year,” Kim said.
Last year, Kim was denied from her first choice college MIT and now is a freshman at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She is looking to transfer.
So if you’re only goal is to attend an elite college (which is, in my opinion, a silly goal), going to the most competitive high school will not guarantee success. In fact, going to your local public high school might give you the opportunity to be a superstar that you wouldn’t have at a magnet school. Think big fish in a small pond.
If you are denied from your first choice high school or don’t have the money to attend a prep school (most people don’t), do not think you’re doomed for the college process. Instead, go into high school knowing that you are going to learn as much as you can and pursue what you love. That way you’ll grow as a person and put yourself on good footing for the admissions process.
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