In order to get into a top university, is it better to be at the top of your class at a mediocre high school, or near the top of a prestigious high school?

It’s all circumstantial.

That means, to college admission, it does not matter where you go for high school, but what did you do in the context of your environment and resources.

In most cases, students don’t have a say in which school to attend due to school district or parent choice.

So if you do have options, you are the lucky few and it’s an important choice.

  1. Think about your interests and strengths (or even weaknesses), and write them down.
  2. Maybe even your career aspirations. Write them down.

Look at each school carefully, and see what they offer to students, including on-campus curricula and activities, faculty and facility, and most importantly, your potential peers (are they nice? or all jerks?).

Choose the high school that will elevate your learning experience because they have the right opportunities and resources for who you are and what you want to do in the future.

I assume when you say “the top,” you mean academically.

The truth is, to colleges, “being the top” can mean various things. As long as a student is developing the best self and showing actions to prepare for their future, you are at the top, musically, artistically, athletically, academically…etc. You name it.

So, you want to pick your battleground (the right high school) carefully. Find an environment where you will be “the top” because the high school has what you need to become The Top of your version.


Here are 7 factors to consider when choosing a high school:

1. Curriculum

What are the classes you can take? How will they fit into your schedule? What requirements do you need to graduate from that high school, and how does it align with your post-secondary plans? For example, if you want to study music in college, an academic requirement is going to be a basic music appreciation course.

2. Class Size

How many students are in a class? What experience do the teachers have? How will that work for you? For example, if you’re a high-achieving student who needs time with your teachers to build relationships and ask questions, would going from a class size of 20 to 30 hinder your ability to succeed in a class?

3. Extracurriculars

What options are available to you as a student, beyond basic academics? Are there activities for which you’re passionate about that will allow you to become involved in those fields? For example, if you want to be part of a music ensemble or play sports through high school, how many options are available?

4. Co-Curriculars

What opportunities exist to collaborate with other students beyond learning in a class setting? For example, if you’re interested in helping out younger students as an extracurricular activity, does the high school have a mentor program or similar offering?

5. Specialized Programs

What programs or opportunities exist for you to do something that sets you apart from other students in your class? For example, if you’re a writer and want to apply for an internship through your high school, would the high school have staff who know where those opportunities are available locally?

6. Resources

What resources beyond the classroom is the school able to offer you? For example, do you need physical therapy at the beginning of the day? Is there an opportunity for students like yourself to get that type of care on or near campus?

7. Location

Is there a location where you’ll want to stay, or is flexibility important to you? For example, if you’re an athlete, is it important for you to stay close to training facilities if your high school has more than one campus?


I am glad you are asking this question, that means you are thinking and I think you will do great. Keep going!

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