Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

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Our counselors answered:

Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

Corey Fischer
President CollegeClarity

Do prep school students have an automatic 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.

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder getmetocollege.org

Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

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.

Suzanne Shaffer
Owner Parents Countdown to College Coach

Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

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.

Tira Harpaz
Founder CollegeBound Advice

Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

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.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

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.

Edward LaMeire
CEO LaMeire College Consulting (lameirecollegeconsulting.com)

Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

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.

Jessica Brondo
Founder and CEO The Edge in College Prep

Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

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.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

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.

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

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.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

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.