How to Create a School Profile for U.S. and Non-U.S. Students (A Guide for School Officials)

What is a School Profile?

A high school profile is a useful tool for college admissions officers—and prospective students and families—to interpret and understand general information about your school. This PDF is ideally two pages and is created and updated by a high school official. It can be uploaded on many application platforms (such as the Common App) or sent with a transcript. The school profile is also specific to your school, whereas a transcript is specific for the individual student. 

Many U.S. universities use the school profile to better understand: 

  • Overall context of your school

  • School-specific graduation requirements

  • Rigor of a student’s curriculum and the opportunities available 

  • Student’s performance in context with peers

  • Academic records from your high school

Readers can then evaluate a student’s accomplishments within the academic and social context of the opportunities available at school. 

Still not sure what a school profile is? Here’s an example

(Want more? Here are examples of 1200+ U.S. Secondary School Profiles, including 30+ outside of the U.S., courtesy of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.)

Never heard of a school profile and deadlines are fast approaching? Rest assured—whether you’re a school official creating/revising a profile to help your students or an applicant researching the application process for your school, read through this article carefully to develop a beautiful high school profile.

In this blog we’ll help you… 

Note: if it is challenging for you to make a school profile with someone at your school, you can still make note of some of the points below to potentially include in a letter of recommendation or an additional information section.

Before we get into how to create a profile, let’s address:

Can a school profile make a big difference in a student’s application chances?

In short, yes. While most students don’t actually realize it’s even part of the application, the school profile’s content is extremely valuable to understand the context of a student’s application—especially the transcript. For example, what’s considered a good GPA at your school … or does your school even calculate a GPA? What classes are available to you? Where do students from your school attend college or are applicants among the first in your school to study internationally? Who should admission officers contact at your school if they have more questions? 

What if our school doesn’t have a school ‘counselor’ to submit a school profile?

If that’s the case, the recommendation and profile can be filled out and uploaded by the principal or another school official, including a school’s administrative assistant.

Is the PDF of my school profile optional?

Yes—but highly recommended, especially for U.S. universities. Keep reading.

Who submits a school profile?

If a student is applying via the Common App, there are a few general questions that a school official is obligated to fill out, and then there’s an optional upload for a school profile document. 

Some high schools use a document uploading platform such as Maia Learning, SCOIR, Cialfo, or Unifrog. If your school does not use a document uploading platform, then the school profile will be submitted through a Counselor Recommender account. The school counselor/official will be able to upload the school profile in the “School Profile” section in the “Profile” tab of the Common Application.

These are helpful step-by-step instructions from the Fulbright Commission which walk you through the Common Application School forms.

Typically, a  school administrator or counselor is responsible for creating and updating the school profile annually, sending it along with a student’s transcript and relevant exam results to the universities to which a student applies, as well as including it on the school’s website.

Should a school profile be on my school’s website?

It is extremely helpful to have the school profile directly on the school’s website so the information can be easily located by admission officers who search for context about your school. Some non-U.S. universities, which do not use the Common App, still search for a school profile, even if it is not required as part of the original application.

A number of forms also ask for a link to the school profile, and school officials can also include the link when they are writing to a university to establish contact.

Can a student submit a school profile?

Yes and no. The information on the school profile is too specific for a student to even know offhand. However, many proactive students outside of the U.S. help the school official (and an English teacher) facilitate the translation of the information that ideally should be included. In extreme cases, the student can help the school official to share certain details about the school in a letter of recommendation or an additional information section.

How should the school profile be formatted?

These are tips recommended by admissions counselors from several U.S. universities:

  • Written in English (or in a language that the university can understand. i.e. written in Spanish for a university in Colombia with Spanish-language programs)

  • Include school’s logo/letterhead on all pages with school address, phone number, website, principal’s name, and ideal contact person for any needed follow-up information.

  • Ideally one page, front and back.

  • Use charts, graphs, bullet points, and color to break-up and highlight areas, as well as save space. 

  • School’s name should be on every page of the profile (i.e., on the header or footer)

  • If school uses multiple curricula, include side-by-side comparison.

  • Define all abbreviations.

How to Create a School Profile: A Guide for School Officials and Students

There is no template on the Common App to create a school profile. A local EducationUSA office can be instrumental in providing resources to you. Remember to check out these examples of 1200+ U.S. Secondary School Profiles, including 30+ outside of the U.S., courtesy of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and keep reading for how you can generate excellent and useful content for your school profile

Note to students outside the U.S.: don’t feel discouraged, or that this is only a problem limited to students abroad. The National Admission for College Admission Counseling research estimates that about 25% of schools in the U.S. do not maintain a school profile, particularly small schools and schools with large percentages of low-income students.

Students: here are your next two steps as you work together with your school.

  1. Identify your school official who can serve as your “college coordinator.” 

    Who will advocate and work through the process with you as you plan and apply to college? When applying to institutions through the Common Application, you will need a designated school official to do several tasks on your behalf, including uploading a Counselor of Letter Recommendation, sending transcripts, identifying current year courses, answering basic questions about your school (these are minimal, which is why a school profile is highly recommended), approving a fee waiver if necessary, and uploading a school profile.

    It is important that the information you provide as a student on the Common, Coalition or Institutional Application matches the information the counselor/school official is also providing. Embrace this experience together to take on this mission with enthusiasm. Communication is very important.

    Remember that if you do not have a designated school counselor, and your school doesn’t use a service such as SCOIR, Maia Learning, or Cialfo, you will need the email of a school official in order to upload the information mentioned above. 

    Circling back to school profiles, students cannot write the school profiles as you won’t have all of this data available to you; however, you can assist your school officials in facilitating the information about school profiles and the other necessary documents that need to be uploaded. Be both gentle and assertive in your collaboration with your high school officials. Inform yourself through this blog so you can be clear about the information in the school profile that is preferred and recommended by experienced admission officers.

  2. Search if your school has an existing school profile. To do this, simply Google the name of your school plus the word “profile” to see what comes up. While it should be listed on your high school’s website, this is not always the case—although obviously preferred.

If you cannot find the profile, contact your school “college coordinator” as soon as possible to see if a profile is available and up-to-date, if it can be added to the website in the near future, and, above all, sent as part of your application along with your transcript. 

School Official: here is your next step to creating/revising your school profile.

Use the guidelines below for suggestions for revising (or creating!) a school profile. There is no one way to write a school profile; some are succinct in two pages and cover basic information while other profiles are more descriptive and detailed. The goal, however, remains the same: be as straightforward and accurate as possible about your high school context. 

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