What madness am I suggesting?
Most Connecticut schools are stronger than most schools in most states. Those in the top 10% of schools such a Guilford High School, Daniel Hand High, Lyme-Old Lyme High School, East Lyme High School, Old Saybrook High School, Valley Regional High School (Essex-Deep River) and other public schools in Southeastern, CT have battled competition far stronger than most students throughout the country in order to land in the top 10%. At private schools, those with As at Xavier, Mercy, The Williams School, Hamden Hall, Hopkins, among others, have earned As that equate to the same exact GPA as those at who earned As at schools that are terrible.
But… your student’s GPA and class rank are the same as millions of students across country at different schools including schools from states that are traditionally lowest on the academic totem pole. Not to denigrate anyone from Mississippi but its public schools are generally the lowest ranked in the country. Does it seem fair that a student from a typical high school in Mississippi has the same GPA as your child in whatever top school he/she attends iin Connecticut?
Let me also dissuade you from the notion that colleges have effective systems to account for these scholastic differences. Most larger universities feed numbers into an academic index with almost no adjustment for strength of school. Smaller liberal arts colleges have a better sense as to the strength of the school. But here I have to report to that most everyone outside of Connecticut does not know how to differentiate the strength of a town’s high school. Madison, CT might mean something around here but not necessarily to those who are reviewing applications for outside of Connecticut.
As for activities, having sat on admissions panels in different settings, I can assure you that it is very difficult to give significant admissions edges to those who are in the “above average to very good range” in activities. The accomplished trumpet player is neither clearly better nor worse in activities than the accomplished point guard. Almost all students have community service and are in a couple of other clubs. Other than the clear standout, particularly in something unusual, – someone recently mentioned a champion ballroom dancer – activities will put someone “in” once they have the requisite numbers but rarely elevate students who don’t have the numbers.
And, then I dare I say it, Connecticut students from around here are not exactly diverse. As such, they need stronger numbers than Aleutians from Alaska.
Do great on the SAT. That’s how you will stand out.