News & Politics

Which Local Schools Have the Most Graduates Go on to Top Colleges?

Surprise: The top three schools are public, not private

Which local high school boasts the most Ivy League graduates? Photo courtesy of iStock.

Some Washington parents spend as much as $43,000 a year to send their child to a private high school. A good education is the top goal, of course, but there’s often another: getting their son or daughter into a top college.

Private schools can sometimes be secretive about sharing data such as how many of their students get into elite colleges. But now, thanks to research by PolarisList, first reported locally by the Washington Business Journal, we have a peek at which high schools in this region, both public and private, had the most alumni graduate from Harvard, Princeton, and MIT—three schools at or near the top of the U.S. News university rankings—between 2015 and 2017.

Number one on the list is not a surprise: Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, where 79 students graduated, over those three years, from either Harvard (11), Princeton (33), or MIT (35).

The PolarisList is based on sheer numbers—how many total students, versus percentage of the student body, went to one of the three colleges—which may be why the next two Washington schools that appear on the list are also large public institutions: Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring (ranked #31, with 21 grads) and Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville (#35, with 20).

Sidwell Friends in DC is the top local private school on the list (#40, with 18 graduates), followed by DC’s  St. Albans (#69, with 14). Other local high schools rounding out the top: Winston Churchill in Potomac (#80, with 13 grads), National Cathedral School in DC and Thomas S. Wootton in Rockville (tied at #93, with 12), Walt Whitman in Bethesda (#112, with 11), and Georgetown Day and Maret, both in DC (tied at #134, with 10).

Of these schools, NCS and St. Albans have the smallest average class size (71 and 77), making their numbers even more impressive.

For the full list, click here.

An earlier version of this story mistakenly referred to MIT as part of the Ivy League.




Editor in chief

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986 as an editorial intern, and worked her way to the top of the masthead when she was named editor-in-chief in 2022. She oversees the magazine’s editorial staff, and guides the magazine’s stories and direction. She lives in DC.