Colleges Care How You Fit in Your High School Profile

True or False: Your complete college application is all about you.

There is an 800-pound gorilla in the room many aspiring students and their parents never notice: the High School Profile. Read your school’s profile and learn how to use that tool to make your college application stand out.

High school profiles contain a wealth of information that admissions’ officers rely upon when comparing disparate schools.

Profiles can include information about the community, education level of parents, participation percentages of low-income programs such as Title I or AVID, accreditations, institutional memberships and special recognitions. Each profile outlines the curriculum, available academic programs, special diplomas and any independent/nontraditional study choices. Admissions’ officers closely look at your school’s open-or-selective enrollment policies for honors/AP courses and a description of participation.

There are many clues within the school’s grading, weighting and ranking procedures. Also importantly, there is a history of SAT and ACT distribution and ranges. Admissions officers often look at a 31 ACT score in one school district quite differently than a 31 from a district on the other end of a state. Profiles also share ranges of AP and National Merit scores and winners–numbers that matter to universities when inviting out-of-state students. Some high schools evolve as a regular funnel to specific out-of-state colleges so check out the listing of colleges attended by your recent graduates to see how it might help your chances.

Never forget that you are unique in your college journey. But also know that recruiters and admissions officers slot where you, as an applicant, fall within your student body. Use your high school curriculum, grades, sports, clubs, and volunteer experiences to stand out within the context of a school that may have a history of predictability.

There can be some preference in college admissions so that fact that an admissions officer knows your school can work for–or against–you. Regional officers understand the subtle differences between high schools within their jurisdiction.

Make sure you recognize how your high school resume is shaping up relative to your peers. Use the profile your school shares to enhance your resume and stand out from your classmates with good grades and extracurricular activities.

–MIKE RYAN