You might be shocked to learn that when vying for top spots at the nation's most selective colleges it's actually better to come from a lower-performing public high school. And I mean bottom of the heap.
All right, let's put this one in context.
It's impossible for colleges to compare apples to apples when evaluating applicants from thousands of high schools. Consider the types of high schools in and around our beach cities within a 25-mile radius. Independent schools will be compared with parochial schools to public schools among several school districts, etc. How do colleges level the playing field to equalize the opportunities for admission?
The first piece of information the college reviews is the high school's profile. Within a two-page document, some formatted as glossy brochures with fancy clip art (there will always be those overachievers in the school profile category), certain information will be glaringly obvious to the college as they work to understand the applicant in context.
The data should provide the college with everything it needs to fairly evaluate the opportunities the student had at his or her high school and then, what she or he chose to take advantage of.
From the school's mission statement to the enrollment by grade level to the average class size, every statistic is scrutinized in order to make better sense of the file that lay before the admissions reader.
Some of my favorite key facts within the profile are the percentage of students at the high school who earn a specific grade-point average. Twenty-five percent of students earn higher than a 4.0 from The Best Private School Ever? That reeks of grade inflation.