Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?
Academically, students who attend rigorous high schools or home school environments are best prepared for college level coursework. Although prep school students have significant support, I’ve helped homeless and foster kids from low-performing public schools attend the best colleges in the country. Good things can happen for anyone with the right preparation and action.
Prep school students aren’t given preference (at least colleges won’t say there are) except for the fact that academics at prep schools are advanced, compared to public schools. Prep schools give students more opportunities to excel academically and more opportunities to be involved in extracurricular activities. The are two things that colleges look for in applicants–a well balanced student.
No, prep school students do not have an AUTOMATIC advantage. However, prep schools, on average, do provide students with more opportunity to demonstrate readiness for competitive college attendance. For example, prep school students may have more access to AP/IB courses, test prep offerings, and extracurricular opportunities. Further, prep school students may benefit from increased opportunities to connect with admissions officers, college alumni, and others seeking to recruit the school’s “well-qualified”, college-ready graduates. In these ways, prep schools students can ACQUIRE advantage. Public school students should not be discouraged, however. As long as they take steps to enroll in rigorous curriculum, prepare for important standardized tests, and involve themselves outside the classroom, they will achieve success in the admissions process.
As the parent of one prep schooler and adviser to many, I know for certain that there is no way that prep school students have an automatic advantage. This is made very clear when one considers how much colleges seem to weigh having first-generation applicants. Prep schools are very good at providing opportunities to students, particularly in terms of demanding college-prep courses. However, it is up to an individual student to take advantage of those opportunities, and that is what the colleges will assess. There are some cases where prep schools send consistently high quality candidates to colleges, and admissions officers will recognize or expect a certain caliber of applicant.
No one student has an “automatic” advantage who comes from a prep school verses a public or charter school as many colleges use a holistic review for each applicant. That being said, the prep student may have been offered more programs to chose from, stronger academic courses with lots of hands-on and experiential learning, the ability to not have to work during high school thus freeing time up for extracurriculars or school work, have unlimited tutoring and test prep funds, and a strong support system at home. Unfortunately, these things combined often do put one student in a better admittance position than others, but it is not only because of the school they attended, it is merely based on their various levels of support from home.
College do not necessarily prefer prep school students. Most, if not all, colleges want to create a diverse freshman class. This diversity includes: geographic, racial, religious and socio-economic. Colleges often like having “first-generation” students too. That refers to students where neither parent has a college degree. Where a prep school student does have an advantage is that most prep schools have college counselors, whose main job is to assist those students with choosing and applying to college. Those counselors usually would have a relatively small case-load as compared to public schools and are given the time to attend college conferences and network with admission officers. A public school student can make up for this by working harder both in choosing and/or applying to colleges, or he might consider working with an Independent Educational Consultant. To find a qualified consultant in your area, please check out the website for IECA.
In the sense that many prep school students come from affluent backgrounds and are privy to some of the best educational opportunities around — they do, in my opinion, have distinct advantages. However, it is one thing to have advantages and it’s quite another to make the most of them! Coming from a prep school won’t help you in college admissions if you don’t work hard in your classes, challenge yourself inside and outside of the classroom, and prepare yourself for the rigors of college academics. In addition, it’s important to remember that there are many students from middle and lower middle class backgrounds at prep schools who attend on scholarships. Just because you come from a prep school — doesn’t necessarily mean you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth! And don’t forget — there are many many public schools in affluent areas that rival and sometimes surpass private prep schools in terms of prestige, resources, and opportunities. The most important thing is to make the most of your circumstances — whether you are in public school, private school, an urban area, or the suburbs. It’s you (and not your high school) who can give yourself “advantages” by working to your full potential.
in general, prep school offers the students the best prep curricumlums and personal growth to better transition for college. prep school students are typically more mature with better study skills. they are more disciplined in many ways.
however, many public schools are also competitive for admissions. there is a huge gap between most elite public schools and not so afflulent public schools. the qualify of counseling of each school will add advantages or disadvantages to the students.
Colleges examine many factors in selecting a candidate. The rigor of your high school curriculum is one of these criteria. If your school has a long history of sending students who excel to a certain college, it is likely that the school will look on your high school experience as favorable. At the same time, this can occur at any school, whether private or public. If this is not the case, and to outweigh any sort of bias that a “prep” school may receive, make sure that you take the most rigorous schedule that is reasonable for your interests and schedule and by taking universally accepted courses, such as AP or IB, you can ensure that schools will pay attention.
No and Yes. Students are evaluated in the context of their school. Prep schools vary widely as do the students who attend them. In some cases the appearance of privilege can be a disadvantage in college admission. While this is true, a quality core education, from a prep school or a public school is never a bad thing. In fact, certain prep schools have admission rates at the ivy league approaching one third. When a schools students have historically performed well at a college there is an advantage.
No. Every student is looked at within the context of the school he or she is coming from. Some prep schools are stronger than others and some public high schools are stronger than others. No matter what school you attend, you need to be challenging yourself and taking full advantage of the opportunities. If your school is not challenging you, a prep school might be a good option for you, but more so you are not bored than for the promise of a particular college.
Many prep schools have their own admission process, which means that the students who get into them are already proven to be high caliber students, oftentimes with parents who can afford to pay for all of their college. This said, colleges want diversity among their students, and they recognize that prep school just isn’t an option for many. The important thing they look for is that students do all they can with what they have. If you take advantage of all the academic resources your school has to offer, colleges will not fault you for not having gone to a private school, and you application will be considered on an equal footing with any prep school student.
Generally speaking, prep school students come from wealthier families. Schools that are “need aware” (typically smaller, private colleges) consider this because they will most likely not have to offer a financial aid package to have this type of student decide to attend. On the flip side, schools that are “need blind” will make their decision without considering the financial situation of the applicant. If you are unsure if a school is “need aware” or “need blind”, check their admissions website or call the admissions office.
No, prep school students do not have an automatic advantage. In fact, the majority of kids who attend colleges–all colleges–come from public schools. Prep school kids do have advantages–more contact with their college counselors, smaller counselor to student ratios, more access to test prep, more access to school organized college tours and more. Public school kids often have to do more on their own, so that’s why sites like Unigo are great.
Not the poor ones. Out of all the college prep schools in the country, I’d say that maybe two dozen throughout the country (Groton, Exeter, Crystal Springs, etc.) really pull weight with the top-tier schools. These schools produce “American royalty” (needless to say, the Ivies have a lot of legacies at these schools), and house some pretty bright minds as well. Grade inflation is almost non-existent, and admissions offices can trust the transcripts. After these schools, the next crop will be coveted locally (BC High, for instance, with BC and BU; Isidore Newman with Tulane; etc.). However, there are some schools who are just awful, and admissions officers know it. Just as being called a college doesn’t make a school a good one, the same applies with prep schools. If the school hasn’t sent students to top-notch schools in the past; doesn’t have a solid AP curriculum; and doesn’t (in turn) have a really rigorous admissions process of its own, most colleges will snub it.
No way! Sometimes at prep schools there is greater competition, which could be seen as a disadvantage.
The fact that a student attends a prep school seems to indicate advantage, but these advantages are not guaranteed and non-prep school students can also share the same advantages. Prep schools often offer rigorous academic preparation with experienced and involved teachers in a small class setting. Students have access to guidance counselors who have time to help them with the college admissions process. Many, but not all, prep school students come from families with strong educational backgrounds and the means to pay for additional enrichment activities and tutors. All these factors are advantages, but they are not limited to prep school students.
No one has an automatic advantage in the college application process. Public and prep school students must both maintain high academic GPA, perform well on standardized ACT/SAT exams, submit letters of recommendation and personal statements, and maintain extracurricular activities. An advantage that a prep school student MAY have is that their school has additional funding for college counselors who can advocate on their behalf. However, as a public school college counselor, I know many counselors in both the private and public systems that go above and beyond for their students, and unfortunately, I know many in both systems that do not. It ultimately is you and your family’s responsibility to be prepared for the college application process, and the students who have excelled academically all four years of high school are the ones with an automatic advantage, period.
Not the bad ones. Out of all the college prep schools in the country, I’d say that maybe two dozen throughout the country (Groton, Exeter, Crystal Springs, etc.) really pull weight with the top-tier schools. These schools produce “American royalty” (needless to say, the Ivies have a lot of legacies at these schools), and house some pretty bright minds as well. Grade inflation is almost non-existent, and admissions offices can trust the transcripts. After these schools, the next crop will be coveted locally (BC High, for instance, with BC and BU; Isidore Newman with Tulane; etc.). However, there are some schools who are just awful, and admissions officers know it. Just as being called a college doesn’t make a school a good one, the same applies with prep schools. If the school hasn’t sent students to top-notch schools in the past; doesn’t have a solid AP curriculum; and doesn’t (in turn) have a really rigorous admissions process of its own, most colleges will snub it.
No. They may have access to more consistent and personalized college counseling, and by virtue of the nature of the school there is apt to be a culture more oriented towards college preparation, but it would be wrong to say that they have an advantage in the application process simply because they are prep school students. Each college reviews a student’s record in the context of the opportunities and program available. Consequently, while a prep school might offer some programatic advantages, how a student responds to those opportunities is more important than their mere existence. The ultimate decision making process is a highly individualized one with the context in which each student operates playing an important role.
No! Virtually no one does.
Yes and no. There are certain prep schools in the country that are extremely well-known for providing a rigorous education and students from those schools do very well in the college admissions process. However, for the vast majority of prep schools, the main advantage is that the counselors at those schools are not overburdened with students and understand the college application process well. However, students who go to a high school with good counselors or who are helped by private counselors and/or knowledgeable parents should do equally as well.
Prep school students do not necessarily have an advantage in the admission process. It depends on where they are applying. Many prep schools have harsher grading systems where the student might end up with a lower GPA, which will hurt them in the admission process. This can happen particularly when applying to the public universities that may take less of a wholeistic apprroach. However, prep schools may have long standing relationships with certain colleges that might offer an advantage in the admissions process.
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