Copyright © 2002 by  Worth Magazine All rights reserved
September 2002 Issue,  pp. 94-104.
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Some of you become visibly upset when I state that most kids who go to this school are from working class backgrounds. The illusion that you are middle-class will be shattered by the time you finish reading this article. The notion that only people of color are working class is simply a bill of goods sold to you as part of the package of "whiteness" that unenlightened whites have been burdened with for centuries. Wake up and smell the chocolate! (I don't like coffee.) So what are the implications of knowing this fact from the perspective of education? Simple: support and champion public education in order to create a more level playing field for all. Hard this may be for you to accept, in a democratic society it is not money but talent and hard work that should determine how far you go up the educational ladder. This is not simply a question of fairness; it is also a matter of the long term health of society as a whole. When we allow everyone to contribute to the best of their ability, we all benefit. 

By the way: here is an interesting definition of the working class:  according to  Republicans anyone in this country who earns below $200,000 per year is working class. Question: How many people in this country earn $100,000, let alone $200,000? Incidentally, the average per capita income in United States is around $48,000. Another question: What does it mean to be "middle class"? Is it simply a matter of income and status or is it a question of access to power (the power to determine the economic and political agenda of society). From this perspective, in this country it is the capitalist class (which includes the corporations and their allies) that holds power, not the middle class.

Getting Inside the Ivy Gates
 Reshma Memon Yaqub--

What all parents need to know about getting their children into 
America's most elite colleges: Worth ranks the high schools that 
send the most students to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton

Two generations ago, the key to getting into an elite college was a diploma from the right prep school. If you wanted to go to Harvard, you attended Andover; if you wanted to go to Yale, you attended Exeter. The heads of prestigious high schools such as these would sit down with the college deans of admissions and, voilà, there was the freshman class.

Since then, colleges have increased their emphasis on student diversity, promoting merit-based, competitive admissions. For parents who are able to give their children every advantage in getting into a selective college, the cost is still daunting: ever-more expensive private school tuition or, for those who prefer top public schools, real estate prices and taxes in those districts that can be just as exorbitant. Add on the expense of tutors, exam-preparatory courses, and extracurricular activities.

Many parents believe that students from certain high schools—private and public—do have an advantage in getting into the top colleges. How much of an advantage? Worth set out to discover which high schools had the best record of placing graduates in the nation's most selective colleges over the past four years.

We learned that a college feeder system is alive and well in America. "Is there still clearly a pipeline from the top schools in the country to some of the top colleges?" asks Lloyd Peterson, a former senior admissions officer at Yale. "The answer is yes." Our report doesn't stop there. We examined how some of these schools prepare and package kids to get into top colleges. They devote enormous resources to college admissions. They have faculty dedicated to managing the process, who cultivate relationships with top colleges and coordinate students' college applications to achieve strong acceptance rates.

Obviously, a feeder system makes it harder for students outside the network to compete for entry into the elite colleges. That's not something that colleges or private high schools are particularly keen for the whole world to know—one of the reasons that our project met with such resistance. The National Association of Independent Schools told us that placement of graduates at the nation's most selective colleges is not the primary mission of its members. Yet most of those private schools proudly roll out their lists of student matriculation at selective colleges when it's time to raise money, recruit faculty, and attract students.

For our study, we used as our sample four years of freshman classes at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. They are three of the most selective Ivy League colleges. In fact, in the admissions world, the term HYP has come to signify the elite college standard. Chances are great that if a school can consistently place a large number of students into HYP, they can also consistently place students into any other college.

We found that of the approximately 31,700 high schools nationwide (21,000 public and 10,700 private), 930 had at least four students from their 1998-2001 graduating classes who matriculated at Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. We ranked these 930 schools by the percentage of their graduating classes that each sent to the three colleges during the four-year period. The top 100 are listed on these pages.

No. 1 on our list is Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, which sent 21 percent of its graduating classes to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton during the four years. No. 100, St. Mark's School of Texas, in Dallas, sent more than 4 percent. To put this in context, more than half of the 930 schools sent less than 1 percent.

Ninety-four of the top 100 are private schools. To complete a list of the 50 highest-ranking public schools (see page 102), we had to reach down a third of the way on the master list, to No. 294.

The four years of data that we gathered reflect a clear pattern: Private schools have a far better record than public schools do of placing kids at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Several top colleges publicize the fact that about half their students come from public schools and half from private schools. That sounds fair until you realize that every year almost 10 times more kids graduate from public schools than from private schools.

Top private high schools (and those public schools with entrance requirements) start out with a tremendous advantage, of course: a preselected, talented group of students. The intense education that kids receive at some of the country's prep schools is another reason that colleges want them (not to mention that the Ivies, which have need-blind admissions, know that parents of private school kids can probably pay the full college tuition). At the same time, colleges want public school students in the mix and vie for the best ones. "But if you stay in public school," Peterson says, "you have to be near the top of your class, take the right courses, and track down people to look at your essays. All this is spoon-fed to you in private schools."

Because college placement is so valued at private schools, they typically have dedicated college counselors—guidance counselors focused solely on helping students present themselves well to colleges and on developing relationships with college admissions officers. These counselors are often former college admissions officers. At almost any private school, college counseling is part of the package that tuition dollars cover. Nationwide the ratio of students to guidance counselors is 490 to one. A more typical ratio at the private schools on our list is 40 to 60 students per college counselor.

The counseling process at private high schools may begin as early as freshman year, with advice on which classes look good to college admissions officers, guided self-evaluations of what students want in a college, and meetings with families to discuss long-term strategies. During junior and senior years, college counselors help students prepare target college lists, critique their application essays, and write comprehensive recommendations.

Another way counselors help students is by calling college admissions officers to get preliminary indications of which students will get in, which won't, and which are on the fence. Then they can lobby for the borderline candidates. But it's typically only private schools and a few top public schools that make those calls, because most public schools "don't have that sense of privilege, that they are entitled to know the decisions before the students do," says Rachel Toor, a former admissions officer at Duke University and the author of Admissions Confidential.

Private school students often have access to admissions officers during the review process. Matt Upton, a graduate of the Lawrenceville School (No. 39 on our list) in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, who attended the University of Pennsylvania and is now a graduate student at Berkeley, says that Amherst admissions officers came to his school to critique students' essays before they were sent. The senior admissions officer at Harvard spoke to students at Roxbury Latin last year, says Henry Seton, a recent graduate who will attend Harvard this fall. "It's an established tradition at my school that if you're a smart kid, you go to Harvard," Seton says. "The dean of Harvard College is our head trustee."

Some schools go to great lengths to promote their students. Stanley Bosworth, headmaster of Saint Ann's (No. 16) in Brooklyn, took a trip this spring from New York City to Harvard with a half dozen students. "I said to whomever we spoke, 'This is the crème de la crème of the kids we have.'" His travel itinerary also included Yale, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, and Amherst. Bosworth thinks his longstanding personal relationships with admissions deans help the colleges as much as they help his students. "I wouldn't think of taking a risk at one of these colleges," he explains. "I wouldn't send anyone who isn't a great student. I may have occasionally sent a dud to college but never one to Princeton."

Becoming a feeder school for a top college requires an elaborate dance. Private school counselors actively woo colleges, visiting admissions officers and inviting them to come visit. High schools network to get invited to conferences that are hosted—and often paid for—by colleges. The top colleges woo some high schools as well. If they accept students from a high school who then matriculate and do well, the dance continues.

Most public school counselors don't have time to get on the phone and do the bartering and manage relationships between the school and admissions, says Lloyd Peterson. He recalls a counselor he worked with at Stuyvesant High School (No. 120) in New York City as an unusual exception: "She was relentless. If you didn't visit Stuyvesant in a given year, she'd call and rip your head off. Over time, the league respected it." She also steered students to attend the best college they got into, Peterson adds, even if that meant giving up better aid packages elsewhere; that kept top colleges coming back every year.

Schools that have put extra emphasis on the college admissions process have seen a big payoff. Seven years ago, Robert Maher, the principal of Briarcliff High School (No. 171) in Briarcliff Manor, New York, decided to make college counseling a priority. Even though academically the school and its students are largely the same today as they were before the policy change, college placements have improved immensely. "Every department is impacted by how our school is perceived, and a lot of that perception is based on college acceptances," Maher says.

Savvy college counselors realize that their students aren't just competing against all the other applicants to a college; they're also competing against their own classmates. Counselors find ways to influence who gets accepted where and try to prevent their students from getting in one another's way. John Salisbury, director of guidance for the Northern Valley Regional high school district in New Jersey, which includes the campus in Old Tappan (No. 271), encourages his top 50 seniors to tell one another where they are applying so everyone doesn't apply to the same colleges, particularly in the early-admission round. He also asks students who are accepted early and intend to matriculate to withdraw their applications to other colleges, clearing the field for classmates. Otherwise, students may be inclined to leave their applications in place so they can brag about all the colleges they got into. Not only does this hurt their classmates who could have been accepted, it also hurts next year's class.

That's because colleges are very concerned about yield—the number of students they accept who actually enroll. The higher a college's yield, the more competitive it is considered. And if a high school is seen as unreliable as far as yield goes—acceptances given to its students are routinely turned down—that's a major strike against it. "If you want to lose your job as director of college admissions, just get a low yield a couple of years in a row," Peterson says. "If I was still sitting in the admissions chair, part of my strategy would be to take a long look at where we traditionally yield kids." Typically, those schools, he says, are private.

Like many private high schools, Roxbury Latin strongly encourages its students to apply for early decision or early action. According to graduate Henry Seton, at least two-thirds of his classmates got into college early. For yield reasons, many colleges accept a higher percentage of early applicants than regular applicants; these are usually guaranteed "will comes." This year, Harvard accepted about 1,000 students of the 6,100 who applied early, leaving just 1,000 spots for the other 13,500 students who applied during regular admissions.

Although "the best interest of each child" is the mantra of private schools, when it comes to college admissions the line between what's best for the individual versus what's best for the class as a whole can sometimes blur. Counselors who focus on yield and impressive matriculation statistics can push students into making a decision they may regret, such as attending a college that is too competitive for them.

Counselors might also push students to attend colleges that don't fit into their future plans. Stacy Bishop, a recent graduate of the Altamont School (No. 93) in Birmingham, Alabama, who plans to become a veterinarian, was being pressured to attend Birmingham Southern College even though Auburn University was her first choice. Bishop's headmaster felt that Birmingham was more prestigious. In the end, Bishop decided to attend Auburn because the university has a pre-veterinary program and Birmingham Southern does not.

Alex Rampell, a Harvard student who graduated from Phillips Academy (No. 10) in 1999, says his school did everything possible to maximize the number of students who were admitted to top colleges—even if that meant discouraging some students from applying to a college of their choice. He had wanted to apply early to Harvard and still consider Princeton, his parents' alma mater; however, Rampell says, students at his school must promise their college counselors that they will attend a college that accepts them early, even if the acceptance is not binding from the college's perspective. "The school doesn't want you to waste acceptances that you're not going to take," he says. Rampell's parents eventually convinced the school to let him apply to Princeton after Harvard had accepted him. Rampell got into Princeton but chose to go to Harvard.

Parents shouldn't panic if their child's school isn't on this list. They should insist that the school devote sufficient resources to college counseling. In the most successful cases, college admission is a family process. Parents know their children better than counselors do. The hard part might be accepting that sometimes the right college isn't Harvard, Yale, or Princeton.

Our Methodology
Worth's list of the top 100 feeder schools ranks high schools by the percentage of their students graduating from 1998 to 2001 who matriculated at Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. First, we identified the high school of virtually every student in the 2002-2005 classes at the three colleges. We began with the "facebooks"—the directories of incoming students that the colleges distribute to their freshman classes. We then turned to other sources to confirm the totals, including contacting the high schools directly and comparing our numbers with those published on the schools' Web sites and in their catalogs and college profiles. In a few cases where the four years of HYP data were unavailable, we extrapolated from five-year totals. Sources for the four-year high school enrollments were the schools themselves, Peterson's Private Secondary Schools guide, and the National Center for Education. For each school, we've included the tuition costs for day students and the average size of the senior class.

NOTE: Guys, the article lists the top 100 schools. I have highlighted the top ten schools, which is then followed by the rest of the list.

  The Top 10 Feeder Schools
Rank High School
Web Site
At Hyp2
Class Size
1 Roxbury Latin School
West Roxbury, MA
21.11% 42 $14,000.00 50
2 Brearley School
New York City
20.90% 37 $22,850.00 44
3 Collegiate School
New York City
20.00% 42 $22,300.00 53
4 Groton School
Groton, MA
17.86% 60 $24,115.00 84
5 Dalton School
New York City
17.58% 77 $23,200.00 110
6 Spence School
New York City
17.16% 29 $20,700.00 42
7 Horace Mann School
Bronx, NY
16.77% 106 $22,980.00 158
8 Winsor School
16.74% 36 $22,600.00 54
9 Milton Academy
Milton, MA
15.84% 109 $22,950.00 172
10 Phillips Academy
Andover, MA
15.68% 167 $22,160.00 266
1 The percentage of students who matriculated at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton 1998-2001.
2 The total number of HYP students 1998-2001.
3 Boarding school tuition costs only.

11 Phillips Exeter Academy Exeter, NH Private 14.75% 153 $21,700.00 259

12 Trinity School New York City Private 14.60% 66 $22,045.00 113

13 St. Albans School Washington, DC Private/M 14.11% 46 $20,878.00 82

14 Chapin School New York City Private/F 14.09% 20 $20,400.00 36

15 St. Paul School3 Concord, NH Private 13.70% 77 $29,650.00 141

16 Saint Ann School Brooklyn, NY Private 13.54% 39 $18,400.00 72

17 National Cathedral School Washington, DC Private/F 12.72% 37 $18,750.00 73

18 Polytechnic School Pasadena, CA Private 11.88% 41 $15,425.00 86

19 Hotchkiss School Lakeville, CT Private 11.01% 60 $24,200.00 136

20 Brunswick School Greenwich, CT Private/M 10.86% 24 $20,400.00 55

21 Deerfield Academy Deerfield, MA Private 10.77% 76 $21,500.00 177

22 Potomac School McLean, VA Private 10.35% 30 $18,960.00 73

23 Belmont Hill School Belmont, MA Private/M 9.69% 28 $22,240.00 72

24 Baldwin School Bryn Mawr, PA Private/F 9.52% 16 $17,575.00 42

25 Maimonides School Brookline, MA Private 9.42% 18 $12,500.00 48

26 Hunter College High School New York City Public4 9.36% 67 $0.00 179

27 Gilman School Baltimore Private/M 9.35% 40 $15,260.00 107

28 Sidwell Friends School Washington, DC Private 8.99% 40 $19,900.00 111

29 Hopkins School New Haven, CT Private 8.97% 41 $20,000.00 114

30 Pingry School Martinsville, NJ Private 8.84% 45 $19,405.00 127

31 St. John School Houston Private 8.70% 43 $12,800.00 124

32 Buckingham Browne & Nichols School Cambridge, MA Private 8.65% 39 $23,230.00 113

33 Lakeside School Seattle Private .09% 39 $17,525.00 114

34 Harvard-Westlake School North Hollywood, CA Private 8.24% 88 $18,500.00 267

35 San Francisco University High School San Francisco Private 8.23% 32 $21,400.00 97

36 Episcopal Academy Merion, PA Private 7.78% 33 $16,750.00 106

37 Greenhill School Addison, TX Private 7.75% 30 $14,800.00 97

38 Haverford School Haverford, PA Private/M 7.75% 21 $18,000.00 68

39 Lawrenceville School Lawrenceville, NJ Private 7.67% 64 $23,000.00 209

40 Regis High School New York City Private/M 7.65% 40 $0.00 131

41 Ransom Everglades School Miami Private 7.60% 39 $16,135.00 128

42 Holton-Arms School Bethesda, MD Private/F 7.54% 23 $19,075.00 76

43 Georgetown Day School Washington, DC Private 7.46% 34 $19,630.00 114

44 Greenwich Academy Greenwich, CT Private/F 7.41% 16 $20,300.00 54

45 St. Andrew School3 Middletown, DE Private 7.38% 20 $26,600.00 68

46 Fieldston School (Ethical Culture Fieldston School) Bronx, NY Private 7.31% 38 $22,800.00 130

47 Germantown Friends School Philadelphia Private 7.30% 24 $14,430.00 82

48 Delbarton School Morristown, NJ Private/M 7.29% 33 $18,000.00 113

49 Landon School Bethesda, MD Private/M 7.22% 20 $20,200.00 69

50 Professional Children School New York City Private 7.19% 12 $19,000.00 42

51 Choate Rosemary Hall Wallingford, CT Private 7.16% 65 $21,540.00 227

52 Tower Hill School Wilmington, DE Private 6.91% 15 $15,640.00 54

53 Crystal Springs Uplands School Hillsborough, CA Private 6.84% 16 $19,350.00 59

54 Hackley School Tarrytown, NY Private 6.65% 25 $21,400.00 94

55 Bryn Mawr School Baltimore Private/F 6.65% 21 $16,725.00 79

56 Hathaway Brown School Shaker Heights, OH Private/F 6.60% 13 $15,980.00 49

57 College Preparatory School Oakland, CA Private 6.50% 21 $18,575.00 81

58 Taft School Watertown, CT Private 6.45% 39 $21,000.00 151

59 Princeton High School Princeton, NJ Public 6.30% 65 $0.00 258

60 Greens Farms Academy Greens Farms, CT Private 6.25% 12 $21,800.00 48

61 Maret School Washington, DC Private 6.20% 17 $19,850.00 69

62 Head-Royce School Oakland, CA Private 6.19% 19 $18,850.00 77

63 John Burroughs School St. Louis Private 6.15% 24 $14,600.00 98

64 Menlo School Atherton, CA Private 6.11% 32 $21,625.00 131

65 Agnes Irwin School Rosemont, PA Private/F 6.09% 12 $17,800.00 49

66 Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart Princeton, NJ Private 6.09% 7 $19,000.00 29

67 Westminster Schools Atlanta Private .06% 46 $13,852.00 193

68 Pembroke Hill School Kansas City, MO Private 5.93% 23 $12,270.00 97

69 Marlborough School Los Angeles Private/F 5.90% 18 $18,600.00 76

70 Bishop School La Jolla, CA Private 5.90% 24 $15,200.00 102

71 Thomas Jefferson H.S. for Science and Tech. Alexandria, VA Public4 5.89% 95 $0.00 403

72 Seven Hills School Cincinnati Private 5.81% 14 $13,100.00 60

73 Noble and Greenough School Dedham, MA Private 5.67% 23 $22,700.00 102

74 Community School of Naples Naples, FL Private 5.56% 7 $15,478.00 32

75 Castilleja School Palo Alto, CA Private/F 5.43% 12 $19,570.00 55

76 Nightingale-Bamford School New York City Private/F 5.39% 9 $21,375.00 42

77 Convent of the Sacred Heart New York City Private/F 5.36% 9 $21,650.00 42

78 Packer Collegiate Institute Brooklyn, NY Private 5.34% 11 $18,500.00 52

79 Chadwick School Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA Private 5.23% 16 $16,254.00 77

80 William Penn Charter School Philadelphia Private 5.03% 18 $16,130.00 90

81 Scarsdale High School Scarsdale, NY Public 4.91% 58 $0.00 295

82 Princeton Day School Princeton, NJ Private 4.88% 16 $20,000.00 82

83 Ramaz School New York City Private 4.88% 24 $18,450.00 123

84 Kent Place School SUMMIT, NJ Private 4.88% 10 $20,109.00 51

85 Peddie School Hightstown, NJ Private 4.81% 24 $21,300.00 125

86 Indian Springs School Indian Springs, AL Private 4.76% 11 $11,750.00 58

87 Bronxville High School Bronxville, NY Public 4.71% 16 $0.00 85

88 Canterbury School Fort Myers, FL Private 4.70% 7 $12,490.00 37

89 Riverdale Country School Bronx, NY Private 4.65% 21 $23,900.00 113

90 Millburn High School Millburn, NJ Public 4.64% 37 $0.00 200

91 University of Chicago Laboratory Schools Chicago Private 4.63% 21 $15,201.00 114

92 Allendale Columbia School Rochester, NY Private 4.51% 6 $13,350.00 33

93 Altamont School Birmingham, AL Private 4.42% 8 $11,184.00 45

94 St. Andrew Episcopal School Ridgeland, MS Private 4.42% 11 $7,800.00 62

95 Shady Side Academy Pittsburgh Private 4.40% 22 $16,850.00 125

96 Hawken School Gates Mills, OH Private 4.38% 19 $14,975.00 109

97 University School Hunting Valley, OH Private/M 4.36% 17 $17,515.00 98

98 Bancroft School Worcester, MA Private 4.35% 10 $16,650.00 58

99 Pine Crest School Fort Lauderdale, FL Private 4.33% 31 $14,500.00 179

100 St. Mark School of Texas Dallas Private/M 4.31% 14 $16,931.00 81 1