Best High Schools in the World

Posted a year ago
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The secondary school you attend can make a huge difference to your final year academic results and the path you take beyond graduation.

Whether you're planning on studying law at Harvard, arts at Oxford, or design at RMIT, your secondary school can have a big influence over where you end up getting accepted.

If you're a student at one of the best high schools in the world, you're going to have access to great facilities, unmatched faculty, as well as self-motivated and inspiring peers.

Unfortunately, however, having the choice of where you go to school is a luxury afforded to few.

If you're one of those few, choosing correctly will kickstart your educational journey and improve your chances of gaining admission into your dream university!

Let's take a look at some of the best high schools from around the world and what makes them so dang good.

If you have the chance and the means to attend any of these schools, then make sure you jump at the opportunity!

Australia

Victoria

Mac.Robertson High School

Best high schools - image 1

Mac.Robertson High School, or Mac.Rob, is a girls' public school located in Victoria that is also one of the most highly competitive, fully selective secondary schools in Australia.

One look at Mac.Rob students' performance and it's clear why its selection process is so competitive.

Mac.Rob has a 100% completion rate of the VCE (Victoria's high school leaving certificate), with 36.1% of students achieving a score of 40+ out of 50 for each of their subjects – the second best in the state.

The median score for their subjects was 38 out of 50 in 2016; also the second best in the state.

Once you're in, you're afforded world class academic support for both national and international curriculums. It's just the gaining admission part that can be tricky!

Every year, approximately 3,000 students from all over Victoria take Mac.Rob's entrance exam with the hope of securing a spot at this great school. However, with just 960 spots to fill (an admissions rate of 32%), not everyone is so lucky.

Quick Facts:

Status: government

Admissions process: Fully selective

International curriculum: Yes

Gender: All female

Final year tuition: Voluntary payment of $1,600 AUD

Uniform: Compulsory and enforced

Available subjects: 52 VCE level studies

Total enrolment: 970

Melbourne High School

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Located in the pristine suburb of South Yarra, approximately four kilometres south of the CBD, Melbourne High School ranks third in the state for VCE scores with approximately 32% of their students scoring 40+ out of 50 in their subjects for their final year.

This all boys school not only offers students a broad range of VCE subjects and extracurricular activities, but also Vocational Educational Training (VET) for students who want to go on to study a trade after school.

In addition, Melbourne High School teaches offers board for students and has a great reputation for producing athletes at both a national and international level!

Quick Facts:

Status: Government

Admissions process: Fully selective

Gender: All male

Final year tuition: Unknown

International curriculum: Yes

Uniform: Compulsory and enforced

Total enrolment: 1,374

New South Wales

North Sydney Boys High School

Best high schools - school

North Sydney Boys is one of Australia's most academically selective schools, and as such has achieved some outstanding results in recent years.

One of the core strengths at North Sydney Boys, when compared to other selective high schools, is that it puts a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities; orchestra, sports, debating, band, and community work are all focus areas offered to students.

A real benefit of attending a selective public school is that the fees are significantly less than private schools of a similar standard. At North Sydney Boys, a small voluntary contribution is requested from families.

In order to gain admission, however, you have to be an Australian or New Zealand citizen or hold a visa granting you permanent residence status.

But that's the easy part.

When it comes to your candidacy, the selection committee assesses enrolment based on about a million different aspects of your history, including:

  • your educational history
  • your performance in academic competitions
  • your sporting interests and accomplishments
  • your co-curricular interests and abilities
  • your reasons for wishing to attend the school
  • any compassionate circumstances
  • whether you have siblings already enrolled in the school
  • your desire to access single sex education

You need to be at the top of your game to gain admission!

Quick Facts:

Status: Government

Admissions process: Fully selective

Gender: All male

Fees: Approximate contribution of $2,465 AUD

International curriculum: No

Uniform: Compulsory and enforced

Total enrolment: 1,210 maximum

North Sydney Girls High School

Best high schools - Singapore school

The sister school of North Sydney Boys, North Sydney Girls runs in the same way to its all-male counterpart:

It's a highly selective government school with a focus on extracurricular involvement and student development beyond the standard class hours.

North Sydney Girls does not offer any international curriculums or even accept international students, so the selection process is very much focused on supporting local students in the national curriculum. This is great if you're hoping to stay in Australia for university, but if you have aspirations to study abroad, you might want to consider elsewhere.

Cool fact: North Sydney Girls has a renowned focus and emphasis on the arts, music and drama. Two of its most notable alumni include Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts, who are still friends to this day!

Quick Facts:

Status: Government

Admissions process: Interview on application, selective

International curriculum: No

Gender: All female

Fees: Approximate contribution of $2,213 AUD

Uniform: Compulsory and enforced

Total enrolment: Approximately 917

New Zealand

Diocesan School for Girls

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This premier girls school is known for producing the movers and shakers in New Zealand academics in any given year.

Dio, as it's known, has a strong international outlook and encourages its students to look beyond the shores of New Zealand for tertiary study.

This is highlighted by the fact that it teaches (and encourages) the IB (International Baccalaureate) curriculum and have had much success in recent years securing students offers into schools such as New York University and Duke University in the US.

In 2016, Diocesan was one of only four New Zealand high schools to achieve over 90% university entrance pass rates. Additionally, it has produced a number of Robertson Scholars, one of the most prestigious undergraduate scholarships available globally.

Quick Facts:

Status: Private/independent

Admissions process: Interview on application, selective.

International curriculum: Yes

Gender: All female

Final year fees: $20,950 NZD

Uniform: Compulsory and enforced

Total enrolment: Approximately 1394

King's College

Best high schools - Singapore school 2

Much like Diocesan, King's College in Auckland is a very globally-minded education institution, offering a choice of national and international curriculums.

Impressive students have even been known to do both!

Recently, students from King's College have secured places at some of the world's most prestigious universities, including St Hugh's College, Oxford, Imperial College London, and Rhode Island School of Design. Additionally, King's College was one of only four New Zealand high schools to achieve over 90% university entrance pass rates in 2016.

From years 9 to 10, King's College operates as an all boys school, but from years 11 to 13, it's co-educational. The application process for both boys and girls involves a test, an interview, and a tour of the college.

Quick Facts:

Status: Private/independent

Admissions process: Interview and college tour

Gender: All male year 9-10, co-educational year 11-13

International curriculum: Yes

Final year fees: $23,995 NZD

Uniform: Compulsory and enforced

Total enrolment: Approximately 917

UK

Westminster School, London

Best high schools - actual Westminster

With origins dating back before the 12th century, Westminster School is one of the world’s most established secondary colleges and is the last remaining ancient London school to stand on its original site.

It's no surprise, then, that with such prestige, Westminster has produced seven British prime ministers in its history.

In 2016, more students from Westminster than any other secondary school or college in the world gained admission into Oxford and Cambridge.

Quick Facts:

Status: Government, fully selective

Gender: All male (final year co-educational)

Final year tuition: Day student: £9,5222, boarding student: £12,580

Uniform: Compulsory and enforced

Total enrolment: Approximately 747

Eton College, Windsor, England

Best high schools - Westminster

Eton is one of England's most renowned secondary schools with a reputation for producing famous alumni, including 19 prime ministers.

Since 2002, the admissions process into Eton has become meritocratic; all boys who are applying have to sit an interview and a reasoning test, as well as provide a reference letter from their previous school.

Allegedly, the school rejects about one third of the 100 pupils who score the highest marks on the entry test due to concerns that they may fail to fit in; the school has a heavy focus on development beyond academia.

Quick Facts:

Status: Government, fully selective

Gender: All male

Final year tuition: With all considered costs, final tuition can be as much as £33,270

Uniform: Compulsory and enforced

Total enrolment: Approximately 1,320

US

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, Virginia

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Named after one of America's founding fathers, how could Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology not be one of the best schools in America?

Actually, don't answer that.

Anyway...

It's a great school with a focus on the future, which is what you'd expect from a school of technology and science!

In 2016, Thomas Jefferson High pulled off first place in Newsweek's annual America's Top High Schools Rankings for the third year in a row.

Additionally, US News & World Reports placed Thomas Jefferson High in the top five best schools in the country.

That's a pretty decent track record.

With stats such like these, top colleges such as Harvard, Yale and Columbia keep a close on eye on students from Thomas Jefferson High School.

The school is open to applicants who live within six jurisdictions of the school's location. However, to be admitted, you must take an admissions test and essay, produce your past academic records, and provide references. Sounds more like a college application than a high school one!

Experienced teachers and a focus on extracurricular clubs and activities are two of the main reasons Thomas Jefferson High School consistently ranks so highly in the US.

Quick Facts:

Status: Public, selective

Gender: Co-educational

Final year tuition:

  • Day student: $26,100 USD
  • Five-day boarding student: $44,350 USD
  • Seven-day boarding students: $47,050​ USD
  • International seven-day boarding students: $49,050 USD

Uniform: Non-compulsory

Average SAT score: 1500

Total enrolment: Approximately 1,320

Student-teacher ratio: 16:1

Singapore

Raffles Junior College, Singapore

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If you've researched the world's best high schools before, you've probably heard of Raffles Junior College.

In 2015, Raffles received a mightily impressive 39 student offers to Cambridge – the most of any school in the world that year.

What's more, Raffles also boasted one of the highest Ivy League admissions rates in the world that year too, and does so consistently! Raffles is one of the most prestigious high schools in Singapore, and gaining admission into the institution is based solely on academic merit and can be highly competitive!

Found in 1823, Raffles is one of the oldest schooling institutions in Singapore, but is a remarkably progressive school for its age, with a full-time careers advisor and a global outlook for its students.

Quick Facts:

Status: Government, fully selective

Gender: years 1-4 (equivalent to secondary): boys, years 5-6 (equivalent to pre-university): co-educational

Final year tuition: International student: $1800 SGD per month, national student: $300 SGD per month

Uniform: Compulsory and enforced

Total enrolment: Approximately 4000

Hwa Chong Institution, Singapore

Best high schools - sport schools

In 2015 alone, Hwa Chong Institution accumulated an impressive 26 student offers to attend the University of Cambridge, placing them in the top ten for Cambridge offers that year.

In Singapore, the President's Scholar is the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship awarded to Singaporean citizens each year by the government, and Hwa Chong Institution has been awarded 56 President's Scholars!

However, the Institution's reputation as a top high school in the world is based on more than just academic excellence.

Something uncommon in Singapore which Hwa Chong does is place an emphasis on student support in extracurricular areas such as leadership, science research, sports, and service to the community. This is one of the main reasons Hwa Chong students are so successful in their international college applications.

Quick Facts:

Status: Government, fully selective

Gender: All male

International curriculum: Yes

Final year tuition: $28,890 SGD

Uniform: Compulsory and enforced

Total enrolment: Approximately 4,000

Final Thoughts

It's important to remember that while your high school results are important, they are not the be all and end all.

Colleges and universities the world over will also assess your personality, passion, extracurricular activities, as well as your community and sport involvements when choosing whether to admit you.

These schools have made this list because they understand the importance of academics in conjunction with extracurricular and personal development.

Obviously, your high school options can be limited by your location and your financial situation, among other factors.

However, if you're given the choice of where to attend, these are some of the very best.

In order to make sure you're choosing the right school for you, I recommend working backwards.

Think about what you want to do post graduation and then consider how your school can help you get there.

For example, if you want to study arts at Oxford in the UK, consider a school that has a focus on arts, then look at their past students' international admissions success (or local if you're in the UK), and then of course, their costs.

Once you've found a match in all three fields, that's most likely the high school for you!

Good luck, young ones. Your future awaits!

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