Preparing for College

Explaining Transition from Rural School to Private School on Applications

Question: We live in a small rural community so that my husband may practice medicine in a grossly underserved area. Our children had a strong elementary school experience in the local schools, then it became clear that we needed to do something different. This year we switched the children to a private, college preparatory school an hour away. It is a haul to say the least and they are active in sports, as well, but it is a wonderful school and we are happy there. However, the curriculum is much more rigorous (hooray!) which meant the kids had some catch-up to do which resulted in our high school freshman having lower grades than he normally would (he has an 88 average of all classes at this point in the year). Will colleges take into consideration this situation, or is he already 'washed up' and eliminated from the top tier public universities?

When it comes time for your son to apply to college, he can use the "Additional Information" section of his applications (or a supplementary letter or essay) to explain the transition he made from the rural school to the private one and how it affected his grades. Of course, he should steer clear of an "I got screwed by going to school with the Okies" approach. ;-) Instead, his explanation should emphasize the benefits of his early years, the values he gleaned from watching his dad contribute his talents to an underserved population, and the ongoing pluses of having a foot in two different worlds, despite the onerous commute.

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