Why did we publish this information?

Our high school dataset is based on a single objective measure: how many students from a high school enroll ("matriculate") at top colleges. Using our own methodology, we created the InsiderPal Top Colleges List, detailed in the section below called How we decided which colleges to include?

InsiderPal is not a guide for selecting a high school based on rankings. We believe that finding the "right fit" is what really matters. This is simply a data repository for information that is hard to find in aggregate.

We recognize that just because one high school has higher matriculation data than another, it does not mean it is necessarily a better school. There are a host of reasons why a high school has more of its graduates matriculate at, for example, Ivy League colleges, than another high school. Many of those reasons have little to do with the quality of the school’s education or extracurricular opportunities. We are not going to delve into these reasons here, but we want to be clear that we are aware of this perceived bias.

Our dataset of schools is a work in progress and more schools will be added over time.

We started with high schools in California and then expanded to other states, focusing on the top high schools for which we could find verifiable data. We included both private and public schools, although very few public high schools publish matriculation data.

For national and state high school rankings, we used Niche.com rankings for Best College Prep High Schools since they are the only source that ranks both public and private high schools. US News & World Report ranks the Best Public High Schools but it does not rank private high schools so we could not use them as an aggregate source.

We are always looking to add matriculation data for additional high schools for which there is publicly available data or verifiable data. If you have access to such data, please contact us at support@insiderpal.com.

To get an accurate representation of which colleges students are attending, we focus on college matriculation not college admissions. College admissions data could lead to a skewed view of a high school because students can be accepted into multiple colleges.

We obtain our data by searching through a variety of online and offline sources that allow us to correlate high school attendance with college enrollment.

We collect the latest data we can find. For some schools, the data is based across multiple years, and for others it might be based on a particular year. Our preference is to use multi-year data when possible.

There is no single source for this data, which means that it is collected through rigorous exploration. All of our data sources are stored and accessible. If you would like to see the underlying data, please contact us at support@insiderpal.com.

We relied heavily on the US World & News Report Best Colleges ranking as a guide to our initial list of universities and colleges. Of course, no rankings list is perfect. However, for our methodologies to make sense, we needed to use some benchmark rankings, so we chose the most widely known rankings.

One complication with the US World & News Report rankings is that they divded their rankings into two separate lists: National Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges. We wanted to combine the lists because for many students, universities and liberal arts colleges are interchangeable.

Using our own methodology, we created the InsiderPal Top Colleges List which includes both National Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges. Our list is a combination of the two US World and News Report lists compiled to include the top 30 National Universities and the top 25 Liberal Arts Colleges (excluding the United States Navy Academy and United States Military Academy) and then filtered by acceptance rate to only include colleges with acceptance rates of 20% or lower.

We also created a few filter categories for the colleges to help refine results.

  • Ivy League
  • Ivy League + Stanford + MIT
  • Top 5 Public Universities
  • Most Selective Private Colleges (acceptance rates < 10%)
  • Very Selective Private Colleges (acceptance rates > 10% and < 20%)