One of the most important documents that your guidance counselor will send to an admissions committee is your high school profile. If you have not yet looked at your school profile, now is the time to do it. It describes (typically with a bell curve) what the school’s grading curve looks like and is often accompanied by a graphic that shows how many people get A+, A, A-, B+, etc. It also often names the colleges and universities where the last five years of high school classes went to college.
The high school profile also notes the students’ average AP, ACT, SAT (and sometimes) SAT II scores and how many of the seniors went directly to college versus entering the workforce.
While the school profile gives a wide-angle snapshot of the general strength of a school’s curriculum and grading practices, the student’s transcript offers a zoomed-in shot of the student’s coursework history and performance. An admissions committee will study it carefully to determine what level course a student chose to take: AP, Honors, Level 2, Level 3 or Level 4. This is an important analysis as all transcripts are not created equal.
Look at the two transcripts below. Who, based on transcript alone, is the stronger student?
Sample Student 1
|Foreign Language||Level 4||A|
Sample Student 2
|Foreign Language||Level 2||A-|
While Student 1 can boast straight A grades in all courses, Student 2 is actually the stronger student — as viewed by an admissions committee — because Student 2 enrolled in more challenging, high-level courses.
An admissions committee will study the transcript along with the school profile to determine whether the students’ success in classes was accomplished in rigorous courses. Admissions officers will also determine whether the high school tends to inflate grades. Indeed, not all 4.0s are created equal.
Read more about what is important in college applications.