Do college's care about how competitive your high-school is?
So I have taken 7 honors and AP classes, which is all my school had to offer. My SAT score is 1420, which for the schools I'm applying to isn't that great, but it is VERY good compared to what students usually get at my high-school. My SAT score may very well be the highest in my grade. Will a college look into this type of thing, and will they care? I am one of the best students in my class, yet because of how competitive other schools are, I simply have not been given the same opportunities. Not to say that I couldn't have done better, but I have worked harder than colleges may expect with my scores. According to collegevine almost all of my colleges are reaches, so I am just stressed that my SAT and coursework will be the death of me. I would appreciate any advice. Thank you!
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Yes, colleges, especially top colleges care a lot about your HS environment and your zip code and other demographic factors like how many people live in rentals versus home ownership, crime rate, educational level, race, etc. They are all aware that if you come from an impoverished environment you are not going to have the same opportunities as those kids who live in affluent neighborhoods. Kids in poor neighborhoods do not have the same resources or course rigor nor do they have the extra funds that affluent zip code parents spend on college prep, tutoring, club sports, and having the best tech and WIFI money can buy. So don't stress about that.
You do not mention whether you are low income or middle or upper middle income. If you are low income, then I recommend that you find a mentor from a community-based organization like Matriculate. You missed the deadlines for other low-income high achieving scholarships like Questbridge and Posse already as well as the Gates Scholarship. But you might be able to squeeze in something for the Coca-Cola or Jack Kent Cooke both of which close at the end of the month.
But look into the mentoring program because they have already helped tens of thousands of kids before and they can help you focus your remaining time better and give you concrete examples of why working on the essays or the recommendations might be a better use of your time versus getting a test score up when 400+ schools are test-optional including all the ones you want to apply to.
Good luck with your college application process.
When you apply to a college, most colleges will require your counselor to send a "school report." This report basically sums up your school according to academic rigor, competitive nature, etc. Admission officers will know what your school's situation is like when considering your application. Also, you are most likely going up against applicants from your area so if your area has students with relatively lower stats you would stand out. Admission officers will also know that you took all the ap classes that you could; you won't be penalized for what your school doesn't offer. Overall, the collegevine predictions are not 100% accurate. So, the best thing you can do right now is to not worry about your school's course rigor or SAT score(unless you are going to take it again) and worry more about your college essays/ecs because those are the things that you have the power to change.