If you’re a high school senio r applying to college this fall, you’ll be getting loads of advice about which school to choose. Your parents and guidance counselors will most likely tell you to challenge yourself, to select a school that will prepare you for future greatness by pushing you to study, to learn, to grow. But if you’re really interested in success, a new study suggests something more cynical: Go for the school that pumps up your grades.
In terms of your immediate prospects, it turns out, it’s just as advantageous to come from a college with lenient grading practices—and, therefore, high average grades—as it is to be above average. Admissions officers at graduate schools are more likely to accept an average candidate from an institution with a culture of grade inflation, according to the study, than they are a comparable student who just happened to attend a school where professors made a habit of handing out low grades. Admissions experts fall prey to this bias, the study says, despite believing they are taking the grade inflation into account.