My daughter will be entering high school next year. She has always been in the GT program. How important is it for her to continue in GT? How do colleges view GT?

A lot elementary and middle schools stress GT – or the Gifted & Talented program. In my experience, GT is not a significant factor in most high schools and it plays a very minimal role in college admissions.

First, there is a lot of misinformation on what “gifted and talented” really means. Gifted and talented is a misnomer that gives the impression that these are the smart kids. That’s not really the case. GT students should really be called ‘outside-of-the-box-thinkers.’ In many parts of the country, schools have tried to change the perception and are starting to refer to it as “Exceptional Education”.

Thinking differently does not necessarily make these students smarter. In my experience, it is not unusual to have a GT student earn C’s  in high school.  This is the kid who decides to read a novel about Custer’s Last Stand instead of doing the questions at the end of the history chapter. Yes, he’s learning, but that doesn’t remove the homework zero from the grade book.

So if your student has been in a GT program and is getting ready to enter high school, you need to know colleges are more interested in what students DO than how they are labeled.  You may have a high achieving student who isn’t GT who accomplishes incredible things; colleges love to see this.  However, colleges won’t be impressed with a student who is identified as gifted who has shown no use of his abilities.

I’ve seen some school districts consider GT students to be more capable and automatically place those students into advanced classes.  I don’t agree with this policy.  However, if you have a GT student, the GT designation may help with placement in honors, pre-AP, AP or IB courses.  As with all course selection decisions, you need to determine what classes are right for your student.

You may have a high school that offers additional enrichment opportunities for GT students.  I taught at a school where the GT program offered an elective independent research. This class and the opportunity to do independent research would be viewed as beneficial by colleges and a rare perk I’ve seen offered to GT students on the high school level.

Don’t panic if your school doesn’t offer enrichment opportunities like this.  Most don’t.  Colleges evaluate each student’s academic record in the context of what was available.  A GT program may offer opportunity for enrichment but I wouldn’t worry about the label.