Q:

My son is now a sophomore in high school and has aspirations of going to a highly selective college. What is the key to getting into a school like this? -- Eager to Know

A:

There is no absolute guarantee that having one metric will get students into highly selective colleges. The most important key to being admitted to one of these schools is having a transcript filled with great grades in difficult college level courses. In fact, the strength and quality of a student's transcript is also the most important factor in being admitted to most colleges. According to US News and World Report in their annual ranking of elite colleges in the United States, more than 90 percent of students at the top 20 universities in the nation rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

Getting top grades needs to be your son's first priority in gaining admission to any selective school. Of course, other metrics are quite important too, including test scores, activities, essays and teacher recommendations.