World-Class Education

World-Class EducationPhotogrph of the earth, taken from space.
Some students have academic and career goals so high that they need to do significant work above and beyond what their teachers require, above and beyond taking the most difficult classes and earning all A's. The difference between a great eduction and a world-class education--an education that allows students to compete with not only the best students in the country, but the best students in the world--is less about what teachers do and more about what students do. Many students may not need or want a world-class education, but for those who do, there are several areas to consider.

Test Scores
Average SAT, ACT, AP and IB test scores don't cut it at the highest levels of high school education.

When it comes to AP and IB classes, students don't just take the class and earn an A or B; they take the exams and earn the highest scores. Research shows that taking an IB or AP class with knowing enough to take and pass the exam has very little value beyond taking just a regular class. It is studying enough to pass the test that makes a difference and the higher the score, the more the difference. At the best high schools in the state, 40-50 percent of students earn 5's on their AP exams and equivalent scores (6's and 7's) on IB exams.

When it comes to the SAT and ACT, perfect--or nearly perfect--is average. For example, more than 75 percent of admitted freshmen at Cal Tech, one of the best science and engineering schools in the nation, scored 800 in math--a perfect score. The average SAT score at most of the top colleges is 1500+. Perfect is 1600. The national average is around 1050.

Many of the students who earn these scores started preparing as early as freshman year (and often before) and they spent many hours studying independently to prepare.

Extra-Curricular Activities
World-class students don't bury themselves in extra-curricular activites. They are deeply committed to 1-2 for long periods of time (2+ years) and for the best colleges in the nation, that's enough. It's quality over quantity. How has a student demonstrated commitment and excellence in something they are passionate about and how well can they talk about what that experience meant to them, that what they want.

When it comes to getting a world-class education, taking advanced classes and earning the highest grades is just the start. Teachers and schools can help and facilitate achievement, but at the very highest levels of education, the last bit is up to the student. That's how it works for the best students in the United States and that's how it works for the best students in the world.

Picture of Chinese student on college campus. Photograph of male African-American student with book in library stacks.  Photograph of female Indian student.  Photograph of male Mexican student with NASA logo in background. 

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