Because of the ever increasing numbers of international students applying to US universities, there is greater competition for acceptance for a limited number of spaces. Students therefore constantly seek ways to differentiate themselves and their application from the millions of applications received annually in admissions offices at US universities.
Similarly, international high schools are constantly seeking opportunities to raise the profile of their school and thus become even more attractive to the most able students. National ranking of high schools is a good way to raise the profile of the school. In many cases this ranking is driven in part by the success of their students either in national examinations such as the Gaokao or the CSAT, or which university the students attend.
With so many international high schools, it is difficult for US universities to calibrate between them. In most instances they use national ranking data, existing pipelines of students who have been successful as students at their university or scores on international standardized tests such as the International Baccalaureate or the Advanced Placement. Unfortunately, while this information gives some guidance to the admissions officer at the US institution, it does not provide an absolute guarantee for success if accepted.
A growing number of schools and students in the US see similar issues in gaining admission to US universities. This is especially true now that an increasing number of universities no longer require the SAT as part of the admissions portfolio of a student applicant.
Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in students taking university level classes while still enrolled in high school. The courses count towards the completion of a student’s high school work as well as being able to be counted for credit at a university. These courses are called dual credit courses. This increase in dual credit coursework has been of benefit to students because they can demonstrate proficiency of university level work as part of their application. Furthermore, the completion of university level work permits the student transfer this credit to the university. This transfer of credit provides the student with an opportunity to accelerate their studies and graduate earlier than most or affords the student with the opportunity to take more classes of an advanced nature in their chosen discipline. In the case of accelerated studies, families benefit because the cost of taking classes while in high school is much less than if taken as a university student.