As college-application season enters its most stressful final stretch, parents want to know if their children’s schools are delivering the goods — consistently getting students into top universities.
It’s a tricky question to answer, but for a snapshot, The Wall Street Journal examined this year’s freshman classes at eight highly selective colleges to find out where they went to high school. New York City private schools and New England prep schools continue to hold sway — Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., is a virtual factory, sending 19 kids to Harvard this fall — but these institutions are seeing some new competition from schools overseas and public schools that focus on math and science.
The 10 schools that performed best in our survey are all private schools. Two top performers overall are located in South Korea. Daewon Foreign Language High School in Seoul sent 14% of its graduating class to the eight colleges we examined — that’s more than four times the acceptance rate of the prestigious Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, N.Y.
No ranking of high schools is perfect, and this one offers a cross-section, rather than an exhaustive appraisal, of college admissions. For our survey, we chose eight colleges with an average admissions selectivity of 18% and whose accepted applicants had reading and math SAT scores in the 1350-1450 range, according to the College Board: Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Williams, Pomona, Swarthmore, the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins. Some colleges that would otherwise have met our criteria were excluded from our study because information on their students’ high-school alma maters was unavailable. All the colleges in our survey received a record number of applications last year.