The album debuted at number 5 on the UK Albums Chart. It received mixed reviews from critics.
Prior to the album's release, it was reported that several retailers including HMV had refused to stock the album due to its cover art, though this was later denied by HMV.
The first single, "Spent the Day in Bed", received its first play on 19 September and was released on the same day. Along with the release of the single, Morrissey announced an upcoming US tour. "I Wish You Lonely" was released as an instant grat download on 24 October. "Jacky's Only Happy When She's Up on the Stage" was released on 7 November.
On Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, Low in High School received an average score of 59 based on 25 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic gave Low in High School a rating of three out of five stars, stating it is "one of Morrissey's most musically adventurous records" but "can seem as aurally conflicted as it is politically". Josh Modell, writing for The A.V. Club, gave the album a B rating and said it might be Morrissey's best release since You Are the Quarry. Alexis Petridis in The Guardian also gave it three out of five stars, describing it as "your standard Morrissey solo album ... not bad, but not built to reach far beyond his standard fanbase." Jordan Bassett, writing for NME, gave the album two out of five stars, stating "the 12-song album's first five tracks are passable, if not actually quite enjoyable. Beyond this point, though, only the most hardened Moz fan should dare to venture."