Updated: December 27, 2013 9:54AM
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
I hear rumors that my chances of getting admitted to an Ivy League college may depend upon what high school I attended. Do Ivy League schools take more applicants from certain high schools over others? And, if so, which high schools have the advantage?
Hopeful Ivy Leaguer
You are right when you say that where you attended high school may have a major impact on your chances of getting admitted to the Ivy League or other top colleges such as Stanford and the University of Chicago. The successful sending high schools are typically called “feeder” schools. They range from private boarding schools to outstanding public high schools.
There are clear advantages to attending a top–tiered high school, as can be seen from college admissions data. The Harvard Crimson recently reported that in Harvard’s Class of 2017, six per cent of admitted students came from only 10 high schools. Eleven percent of high schools with students admitted to Harvard sent 36 percent of students, while 74 percent of schools sent only one student. Clearly where you went to high school plays a major role in whether or not you are admitted to Harvard.
According to The Crimson, one out of every 20 Harvard freshman attended one of only seven high schools: Boston Latin, Phillips Academy in New Hampshire, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Stuyvesant High School in New York, Noble and Greenough School in Masssachusetts, Trinity School in New York, and Lexington High School in Massachusetts.
Interestingly enough, Stuyvesant, which is a public high school, requires applicants to take a two and one-half hour entrance exam with roughly three per cent of applicants being accepted — a lower admit rate than Harvard! This is typical for most top high schools on the list. By the way, the Stuyvesant admissions tests are given in elementary and middle school.
An excellent high school college counseling program and a curriculum that prepares you for rigorous academic achievement in college will make a huge difference in your admissions chances. For example, it has been said that the freshman year at Harvard is just a repeat of the senior year of Phillips Academy Andover. Phillips, which sent 18 students to Harvard this year, accepted only 13 per cent of its applicants.
A large percentage of students admitted to Harvard graduated from top-tier high schools and this should give you some idea about hard it is to gain admission to Ivy League colleges.
However, if you do not prepare at one of the elite schools, top colleges are still looking for diversity across the board. It will be to your credit if you have taken advantage of all that your high school offers to you — both academically and in extra-curricular areas.