Taking challenging courses in high school is more important than getting good grades for students who want to get accepted by a competitive college, a new report concludes.
Published last week by the Center for Public Education, the report draws on national data to determine what credentials students need to get into college. It calculates that an average student who scores a 21 on the ACT test, has a 3.12 out of a possible 4.0 grade average, and completes trigonometry and chemistry, has a 75 percent chance of being admitted to a college deemed to be “competitive.” That student’s chances of admission rise to 79 percent, however, if he or she has passed precalculus, rather than stopping at trigonometry.
The study also found that low-income students and those who are members of minority groups are less likely to earn the “right” course credentials than white students are. But if poor and minority students take the same courses, earn the same grades, and score the same on their college-entrance tests as white students do, their chances of getting into a competitive college are just as good, the report finds.
The Center for Public Education is a resource center run by the National School Boards Association, based in Alexandria, Va.
A version of this article appeared in the January 27, 2010 edition of Education Week as College Entrance