An Encouraging Word
I will be applying to college in the fall, and am nervous about being accepted to my top-choice schools. I currently have a 3.8 GPA and am taking AP and honors courses, and I am very involved in sports, Girl Scouts, and the local Boys and Girls Club. My problem is that I have never been very involved with in-school activities because of my commitments outside of school. Is lack of involvement in school sports and clubs looked upon poorly by colleges? Also, I know that the National Honor Society is well-respected, but my school’s policy on accepting students is that you need 72 in-school service hours. As I explained above, I don’t have the necessary hours and therefore wasn’t able to be in NHS. Should I mention this to the colleges I apply to? Thank you for any help.
First of all, without knowing your test scores, it’s hard to say what your overall chances are at any particular school. My own feeling on this is that colleges care much more about the depth of your commitment to outside activities rather than the breadth. They would rather you be involved in just a few activities and devote meaningful time, rather than having more activities but not devote much time to any of them. Therefore, I think they should be fine with the activities you have, assuming you devote some significant time to them (by the way, I also assume that the reference to “sports” means some type of organized league rather than just pick-up games). I probably would mention on your college application that, while you would be eligible for NHS, your commitments to various activities outside of school prevented you from being involved with NHS. Of course, I’d be sure to also tell the colleges about the extent of your involvement in organizations outside of school (e.g. the Girl Scouts) and some of the positive benefits you’ve received from your participation. Good luck!
I am currently a sophomore at a fairly well known private school in Florida. I am in all honors classes, have a 4.15 GPA (out of a possible 4.3), am a member of the student council and PALS (an organization to help new freshmen), the manager and statistician for the varsity basketball team, have starred in 2 plays, and plan to take 3 AP courses as a junior. My school does not list class rank, but I would guess that I am 8th out of my class of 155. Last summer I took a sports law course at Duke. This summer I will attend a legal conference at Stanford and a leadership conference in Washington, DC. I recently took the new PSAT and received a 71 in critical reading, a 73 in math, and a 77 in writing. Academically, I’m not worried, but I have not done much community service. Though I have 100 hours, most of it comes from volunteering at a summer camp. I’m concerned that not having enough community service will hurt my chances of being accepted into a school like Stanford or George Washington. Is it necessary that I help out more in the community, or can I continue to focus on academics and leadership?
Let me start by congratulating you on your accomplishments so far. Your excellent grades, strong test scores, and variety of extracurricular activities should give you a good shot at getting into some of the country’s most prestigious colleges. If you want to get involved in another volunteer activity, that’s fine, but I don’t think it’s necessary. First of all, 100 volunteer hours are nothing to sneeze at. Second, you seem to be involved in plenty of extracurricular activities already. Colleges would rather see you participate in a limited number of activities and devote significant time to them than join every club in sight but not be deeply involved in any of them. Basically, you’re doing all the right things already. As long as your SAT scores are consistent with your PSAT scores, you should be in great shape. In the meantime, relax a little and enjoy the rest of high school. You don’t want to burn yourself out before you get to college!
I was denied from a university. I believe that this specific university would be a perfect fit for me. How would you recommend I go about refuting this decision?
Well, I wouldn’t try to “refute” the decision, but it might be a good idea to make an appointment to talk to someone in the admissions office to see what the reasons were for denying you admission. Perhaps they misconstrued something on your application and/or were not given everything they should have considered. It would be unlikely that they would change their mind, but I can’t see where it hurts to discuss it with them.
I am a sophomore in an IB high school, and I am not sure whether my extracurricular activities are the right activities for colleges. I am not the leader of anything in my community, and I really haven’t done much volunteer or community service activities. I have mainly focused my energy into after-school activities such as G-Force, Youth Leadership, FCA, choir, soccer, and the full IB diploma. I want to go to college and major in nursing. Would my extracurricular activities be looked upon as good enough for colleges, or do I need to do more community things and be a leader of different organizations? I have good grades (4.25 GPA), and I am ranked 13th out of a class of 278. I haven’t taken the SAT or ACT yet. I’m not sure that my current activities will be enough to get me into a highly accredited or Ivy League university. Do I need to be more involved in other things?
You’re doing a lot of things, and I think with your grades and your IB courses you’ll be fine. Of course, it’s hard to say which schools you would get into, because that will depend on your test scores as well. However, based on what you’ve told me, you should get into some very good schools. If you want to get involved in a community activity, it wouldn’t hurt, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Don’t overextend yourself, sometimes colleges would rather you be involved in less activities but devote more time to them. If you have too many things “listed,” it might look like you’re joining things just for the sake of joining without putting meaningful time into them.
Dear Admissions Guru, this is my junior year, and I am extremely stressed out about my chances of getting into an Ivy League school. Currently, I have a 4.4 GPA, rank number one in my class of 458 students, and am taking all the AP classes available at my school. I have been taking advantage of my summers by attending the NYLF program on medicine, and am attending the People to People program at Johns Hopkins University this summer. In the community, I am a youth executive board member of the Santa Clara Valley Red Cross Chapter, an intern at a medical clinic, a clinical research assistant, a YMCA youth and government delegate, and a hospital volunteer. At school, I am President of my Red Cross Club, and a member of NHS, CSF, and Literary Society. My SAT score is about a 1200. I understand that I need to improve my score, however, besides the SAT, I feel very uneasy. The load of stress is making me feel “burned out.” Although I am stressed out and constantly tired, I know that there are other spectacular students out there. I feel as if I am not doing enough to get into Stanford University or Johns Hopkins University. What else can I do to make myself stand out? If I am doing the right things, what am I doing now that DOES make me stand out?
First of all, you are doing everything you can do and more! Your class rank, GPA and activities are very impressive. And your SAT score is definitely nothing to be ashamed of.
Now, is your SAT high enough to get into Stanford or Johns Hopkins? Maybe not, but you’ll still get into an excellent school (and, with your being number one in your class and all your activities, you still may have a shot at these schools). Don’t stress yourself out over this. All you can ask of yourself is to do your best.
I would not recommend that you get involved in any more activities, it looks like you’re already busy enough. You need to have some free time to yourself too. In fact, I think you ought to stop some of the things you’re doing so you have some time to yourself to do some things you’d like to do–relaxing things like reading, watching television, going to a movie, concert or sporting event, etc.
Put everything into perspective. Getting into a good college is important, but I don’t think you have anything to worry about in that regard. Just do your best to try to raise your SAT score, keep doing the other things you’re doing, and stop worrying! It’s okay (and actually important) to have a little fun in high school too! Too much stress is not good for your physical or mental health. Relax and enjoy your high school experience.
I’m a sophomore in a highly-ranked public high school. I have always scored in the top percent of all high school students in the nation on standardized tests (including a composite score of 31 on the ACT in 7th grade). I am taking several AP classes (including AP Calculus) and am signed up to take 5 more next year. I am also heavily involved in music, ballet, and volunteer work. However, I have been having a lot of personal problems at home for the past year. In the second half of my freshman year and the first semester of my sophomore year, my grades have dropped from a 3.9 average to a 3.15 average. I’m hoping to ace my junior and senior years, as well as my ACT and SAT, but I’m worried about how my freshman and sophomore grades will affect my college admissions chances. I want to go to a top school, though not necessarily an Ivy League. Any suggestions?
Well, all you can do now is work as hard as you can to improve your grades. If you’re successful in doing so, then you could write a letter to the colleges to explain why your grades went down. Assuming it’s a plausible reason, and assuming that you’re able to get your grades back up to where they were, you will have done your best to minimize the damage from your grade decline. And, colleges will appreciate your candor. That would be my approach.
I am a senior this year, and my number-one choice is University of Maryland-College Park. I am now in the middle of the waiting game to hear back from them. I have a 3.2 GPA and did well (above 1200) on my SATs, but these are somewhat below Maryland’s expectations. I have heard that big schools such as this can rule out applicants rather quickly. I was wondering if they would rule me out for admission before looking through the rest of my application, such as the essay I spent a long amount of time writing. Also, my father attended the University of Maryland, and I am curious as to how much that actually plays into the whole admissions process.
If you’re a Maryland resident, I think you have a shot. I imagine your SAT scores are well within the range of accepted students, although your GPA is probably at the low end of their range. It’s really hard to say how good your chances are, because it also depends on your extracurricular activities and other accomplishments. I don’t think they would rule you out right away if you’re a Maryland resident. The essay could help a little, but I don’t think it will be that big of a factor. The fact that your father went to the university may help, but it’s hard to say how much. Most schools do give extra consideration to “legacies,” although this has become the subject of some controversy. Last August, President Bush came out against giving any preference to legacies, but it’s safe to say that legacies will continue to be a factor for probably quite a while.
By the way, the fact that you didn’t hear yet probably means that you’re being seriously considered and possibly at least put on the wait list. You might want to see if you can have an interview. Good luck!
I am a junior in high school, and I would like to go to college for business management. My problem is that my average GPA is around a 3.0. Will any college accept me?
A 3.0 is pretty good if that’s on a 4.0 scale. I’m always amazed that students don’t think there’s a college for them. Harvard is not the only school in the country. There’s a college that’s right for you. Look through My College Guide, explore some other guidebooks, and come up with a list.
I am a sophomore in high school, about to be a junior, and I have a B-C average. I don’t know whether I will get into the school that I want. What can I do to help my grades?
First off, to put your mind at ease about getting into the school of your choice, you need to get some information about their requirements for admission. You can likely get this from your high school counselor’s office. It’s hard to have a goal when you don’t know the requirements.
Regarding your grades, I recommend you sit down with your adviser and work out a course schedule that plays to your strengths. Then meet with each teacher to make sure you’re on the same page. A lot of the time, teachers who see an interested student will want to take a greater interest in them. You’d be surprised at what a good relationship with your teachers can do.
Dear Admissions Guru, I am currently a junior at a prestigious private high school in California. My grades have been quite erratic. I got a 4.0 freshman year, 3.0 sophomore year, and I currently have around a 3.5. I have very strong and meaningful extracurricular activities. I am a varsity athlete, a leader in two respected clubs, and I have many volunteer hours. I am shooting for schools like UC-Berkeley and UCLA. But I understand that in their selection they look heavily at grades, specifically the average of sophomore and junior year grades. When comparing my average to the average of a person who gets admitted to those schools, mine is much lower. So my questions are: If my average of sophomore and junior years is around 3.3 to 3.4, and the average of an admitted student at those schools is around 3.7 to 3.8, does that mean I have barely any chance of getting in? Should I be discouraged? Will my strong extracurriculars help to compensate for my lower grades and make me a serious contender? Thanks for your time.
Most likely, your freshman grades will be in that equation, but they will look at the grade trends. If you were steadily going down, that would not help. Extracurriculars will help, but again, you’re competing with the best of the best. My advice: find that balance between course selection and superior grades. Score well on the standardized tests (SAT or ACT). Apply early decision if either has it–and if you can afford the tuition (early decision not a good option if financial aid is important for you).
Also, try to possibly get one 4.0 grading period behind you your senior year and then apply. Have a couple of safety schools. And finally, relax. UC-Berkeley and UCLA aren’t the end of the world.
Hello, oh College Guru. Now, I’m in a bit of a quandary. I’m a sophomore in high school, and even though I hate to admit it, I’m not the best student in the world. I try, but I can’t seem to work hard enough to get myself out of my lazy streak. In the 7th grade I got a 900+ on the SAT in the Duke Talent Search, but I know I can do better. How do you suggest I break my lazy streak, while keeping up with all of my extracurricular activities, so that I can get my grade average from a B- to, say, an A-?
Well, if you got a 900 on your SAT in the 7th grade, I’d say basically that you’re bored. First off, confirm that you’re not ADD/LD. Lots of bright people are, and they just can’t focus on work that would be fairly easy if they could. On the other hand, you might just need to take harder classes. Maybe a challenge will snap you out of it. Then again, maybe you’ll never snap out of it. Maybe you’ll be happier working for minimum wage later in life. I know plenty of really smart people who do nothing with their lives. It’s a big club, and I’m sure they’ll be faintly happy to welcome you as a member.
Why should I even bother with college?
I’ll give you three reasons: 1) you’ll make more money, 2) you will be exposed to people and ideas that could radically change your life, and 3) our society values credentials. You can certainly do life without a degree, but it’s harder.
I have a 4.0 GPA, I’m very involved in clubs and sports and have good SAT scores, but I attend a small rural high school with little available in the way of AP classes. What can I do to prepare myself academically for college? Are admissions officers normally leery of accepting “small-town kids” to urban universities?
Being from a small town is not going to hurt your chances of getting into the college of your choice. It is true that many small towns don’t have the educational resources of larger communities, but certainly there are many small communities which do an excellent job of educating their young people.
I think what you must do is take advantage of every opportunity. If you feel you have exhausted the learning opportunities in your high school, turn to a community college or check into correspondence courses at larger universities. Look into summer learning opportunities. When it comes time to review your application, colleges will recognize that you were proactive with your learning. And in fact, you may find that your small-town background has given you an edge others won’t have.
I am discouraged. As a junior with 1560 PSAT scores and a 3.5 cumulative in AP courses, I get lots of flattering, individualized mail from colleges. I am just a normal kid with sports, dating opportunities, a job, and a flair for math and literature. On one hand, I am encouraged to think big, and on the other hand people tell me that I won’t possibly be accepted at any of the stellar institutions that keep writing me. They lift you up just to shoot you down. I don’t know where to apply now, but will probably settle for a state school in my region.
What makes you think you’re going to get shot down? College admissions marketing is very sophisticated stuff. They track carefully what works and what doesn’t. The letters you get are a result of colleges doing what they call a “search” of PSAT, SAT, and ACT test results. This is big business for The College Board and others who sell names. Typically, your name costs the college about $0.25. What the college does is to tell The College Board to search for all students in such and such states scoring over “X” on the SAT (and other criteria), and The College Board provides them that list. If they get 20,000 names, you among them, the college pays around $5,000 for that list. Buying mailing lists for marketing purposes is a pretty common business practice, but I think that students deserve to be fully disclosed about this practice when they are the objects of those practices.
The fact is, a college would not waste their money sending you admissions material if you did not fit certain criteria they have for acceptance to that school. Does that mean that you’re definitely going to get in? No. But I do think you can take these mailings seriously. The problem, as I see it, is just as you expressed. Very good students like yourself tend to get “tons” of mail. Sometimes it is difficult to sort through all of this, and sometimes it clouds the issues. But choosing a college is serious business. You may not have requested material from Such-and-Such College, but why not take a few minutes to check it out? So many students miss out on schools that would be great fits because they don’t spend enough time formulating their lists of top ten colleges to apply to. If the state school is where you want to go, great. But don’t let a little temporary confusion alter your long-term goals.
I am a junior and I go to a public school in New York. I have a 98 average, I am captain of the Bowling Team, President of the National Honor Society, Vice President of the Academic Team, and Treasurer of the Breakfast Club which is basically an Orchestra. I am in Kids on the Block, I’m President of Teen Advisor Group, I play violin and guitar, and I’m also in Girl Scouts. I will take my SATs this January. I did so well on my PSAT that I got a National Merit Scholarship, I went to Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, I won my Gold Award for Girl Scouts, I am going to the National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., and I went to summer programs at Columbia and NYU. I have also won Department Awards in Italian and Orchestra. I want to get into a really great college. Do you think I have a shot at a College like Harvard? Do you think I am well-rounded? Do you think I am overdoing it? Should I worry? Please answer my question.
Well, first, take a deep breath! Phew. Okay. Now, I’ll tell you that you probably do have a shot at Harvard, although my guru skills can’t legally tell your future or predict absolutely whether you’ll get in. But you really don’t have any reason to worry, you are going to get into some very good schools. You sound plenty well-rounded to me. I don’t suggest you join anything else. You have enough on your plate already, so I suggest you focus on these things and even drop one or two activities if you don’t have any time to relax a little bit and enjoy some of your remaining time in high school.
One more tip I’m going to give you: Like you, I was a National Merit Scholar too. Yes, I had a shot at some very good schools as well as you. But I actually went to a public state university, not an Ivy League school, and I ended up loving it (plus I graduated debt-free, which has been so beneficial to me now that I’m responsible for all my own finances). My parting advice to you is that you might well enjoy a public education instead of a private one–who’s to say? Now that I’m on the far side of my college career, I can tell you that I got a great education at a credible university where my professors really had time to care about me individually.
My point is, you don’t necessarily need to focus on just Harvard, there are so many other schools out there that might be a wonderful fit for you, Ivy League or otherwise. You have so many options! Read some of our articles about how to choose a school that will be a good fit for you. Don’t worry. Keep your grades up, keep doing what you’re doing, look into some different schools, and don’t forget to devote a little time to yourself. You’re going to be just fine. Better than that–honestly, you’re going to be great.
I am about to enter my senior year of high school. I have a 3.7 GPA (of 4.0) and have taken advanced and honors classes. Because I have had to babysit my two younger siblings, I have only been involved in Spanish club my junior year. Is this greatly going to affect my chances of getting into college? Should I volunteer as a senior, or is it too late?
You can certainly volunteer as a senior. If you have the option to try a couple of new things, go for it. Remember that extracurricular activities are not only about looking good to colleges–they are mainly intended to help you discover what you love and what you are good at.
I would also encourage you to count babysitting your younger siblings as a volunteer/community activity. No, really! Colleges like to hear about jobs students have held, and they will certainly take into account the fact that you had to take a lot of time to take care of your siblings. Write about it in your essays if you’d like. Highlight your brilliant courage, daring, and cleverness in dealing with your crazy terror of a younger brother or the gothic-tinged rebellion of your emo sister.
Seriously, though, any experience you’ve had in high school helps shape you. Don’t be afraid to mention your babysitting to colleges. It’s a mark of character that you’ve certainly earned.
I’m a junior in high school and, like most other high school students, I am extremely stressed out about college. I’m currently in all honors and two AP classes, and next year I’m taking all (five) APs. My current GPA is 4.47, though I didn’t do too great on a couple of my midterms so my semester GPA was a 4.33. Also, freshman year I slacked off (weighted GPA of 3.75) so my cumulative GPA is a 4.03. My school doesn’t calculate unweighted GPA but I think mine is around a 3.8, if it doesn’t include freshman and sophomore years. I am currently ranked 19 out of 305, and my cumulative rank is 28, which means I’m in the top 10% of my class. I am in NHS, and the clubs that I am involved in are Literary Magazine, Key Club, and Psychology Club. I volunteer at the hospital weekly and have done several other community service projects in the past, such as beach clean-up and construction at my church. I took the SAT once and got a composite score of 1810 and an 1160 out of 1600 (CR 570, Math 590, Writing 650.) I plan on retaking the SAT and taking the ACT at least once. I have also been attending an SAT prep course, so I think my scores will rise. I’m not the strongest candidate for the schools that I want to attend, my top three are Boston College, Vassar College, and Northeastern, all amazing schools. Obviously I lack in several areas. If I bring my SAT score up to a 1970 or higher, will that boost my chances? Also I’m not sure if my extracurriculars are good enough, since I’m not an officer in any of them. Will that affect my admission? I also know that colleges like to see students who are passionate about one or more talents or interests that they may have. Honestly, I don’t have many talents, I don’t play sports, I am in no way artistic, and the only thing that is remotely close to being a talent is my writing, but even that is a stretch. My goal is to go to a top school (not ivy league), as unlikely as that is. Do I have any chance at all?
Don’t worry. 1) You’re doing all the right things to set yourself up to get into a good school. 2) You should be really proud of yourself. 3) It’s actually not very obvious that you’re “lacking in several areas.” And 4) my advice is to relax a little bit. You are already an excellent candidate for a great school. You just need a little perspective. Don’t sell yourself too short.
Yes, maybe you could work on a leadership position in one of your clubs, but if you don’t get one, who cares? Just keep working hard and focus on enjoying what you’re doing now, instead of trying to do all the “right things” to get into college. College admissions can be somewhat arbitrary once you’re in the national group of top students (like you are). So why not breathe a little and take a bit of time to enjoy the rest of the “high school season of your life” instead of using your free time to stress about college? Your work ethic is already top-level, and that will probably be a better predictor of your future success than which college you get into.
Due to medical issues and circumstances beyond my control, I haven’t been doing great in my classes. Because I did so well my freshman year, and now I’m a junior, my grades in between haven’t been good. Since I have been having such a hard time in class, some of my teachers have opted to give me a “G” grade instead of an actual letter grade. I get the credits but I don’t get an actual grade. Would my best option for college be to go to a community college and then transfer to a four-year university with those grades? High school hasn’t been my finest academic moment, but I still want to go to a good college.
I’m sorry to hear of your struggles. Community college can be an excellent way to transition toward college, especially if your high school grades don’t set you up to compete for a spot at the schools you really want to attend. Also, if you’re having trouble readjusting to your studies and catching back up, warming up with community college classes might actually be more beneficial to you than trying to take on a full load at a four-year university right away. Consider this option seriously — it’s a great one, and many students enter a university in great academic shape after spending a year or two at a community college! Good luck!
I am 58 and never went to college before. I really want to do this, as I age anyway if I don’t. But it’s very shameful to be sitting in a classrooms with kids younger than my adult child’s age. I will be so ashamed and embarrassed. I also fear I will feel extremely left out and lonely amongst these youngsters.
Thanks so much for writing. First of all, I want to encourage you that most colleges these days have so many students who are older than traditional college age. Yes, there are a lot of youngsters, but there are so many people going to school as adults, such as yourself. It’s really a common thing now and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, many younger students often appreciate having older adults in classes who might be able to contribute their life experiences and wisdom to the classroom.
I wonder if maybe you could talk to a professor or someone on the college campus you know and get some ideas of what might help connect you with other adult students. Look around your college’s website or perhaps in the college handbook to see if there is a meet-up group, organization, or society for nontraditional students, if you would like to connect with other adults on the college campus. Often nontraditional students can encourage each other in some meaningful ways.
And who knows – some of your best friends in college might even turn out to be young people who really enjoy your company! Just be yourself and don’t worry too much about what people think about you. Also, remember that 18- and 19-year-olds are usually so worried about what other people think of THEM and stressed about the transition to college that they might need someone to simply be friendly to them too. It’s possible the person they need is you.
I want to finish by saying, congratulations on your brave and wonderful decision to go to college! I applaud you and wish you all the best. I do believe you can do it.
I’m worried that I screwed up my life. I’m 21 years old. When I was in high school, I didn’t do so good. I got into drugs and I’m in the process of turning my life around. I’m worried that I’ll never get the chance to make something of myself and that it’s too late. I’m also worried because I didn’t do so well in school. I graduated on an IEP. I also can’t spell. I’m worried because I don’t think I’ll be able to get into a good school. I just want to show my family I’m not dumb and that I’m going to make something of myself someday. I don’t even know how and where I can take my ACT. Do you know how I can prepare for it and also where I can learn to be a better speller? I know I have the ability to do so if I focus. I know if I focus, I can do anything. I also have ADHD. So is it still possible to make something of myself even if I graduated on an IEP?
Thanks so much for your question. I think the best thing you could do is to get some personal help from someone in your town. Do you have a mentor? Do you have an old teacher that you liked? Ask them if they can help you begin the process of applying to college. Ask them if they can help you with your writing.
Also, if there is a college in your town, I suggest you go in and talk to the admissions office. The admissions advisers are there to help people get accepted into that college and avoid common application mistakes. There is also a writing center at most colleges. You might be able to get some writing help there too. I am sure there will be someone helpful in the admissions office who can help you with test-taking and how to apply to colleges. Many colleges even have introductory courses for people who need a little bit of extra help transitioning into college.
If you are wondering about how to take the ACT, you can look on the website at ACTstudent.org and see if there are locations near you that you can take the test at. But again, I urge you that probably the most important thing you can do is to find an adult mentor that will help you and fight for you. If there is a friend’s parent, a teacher, or someone else you can think of that you look up to, go to that person and ask that person if they will help you get better at spelling and help you apply to college. Personal help will do more for you than I can ever do.
Lastly, I don’t think it’s too late at all to make something of yourself. I imagine it has been a difficult road to get clean and turn yourself around. That takes some guts, and if you learn that kind of determination and hard work now, you will be able to accomplish more than you ever thought possible. My very best to you.
What is the first step in changing your life to get into college?
That’s a broad question, but a good one. Understanding what it takes to begin a college career will help you prepare yourself. Starting college requires commitment, time management, study skills, and ambition. If you’re not currently in college, you likely have activities that require a large part of your time. You’ll need to shift your schedule around to put college coursework in the center. For example, if you spend a lot of time working, playing sports, or even participating in recreational activities like video games or socializing, you’ll need to understand that coursework and studying will acquire some of that time. Once you’ve committed to changing your schedule, next decide what you need to apply by researching your programs of interest and reading the admissions requirements. Most schools require high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and test scores. The sooner you begin working on this application portfolio, the stronger your chances. Choose people to write recommendations who know you well and have witnessed your hard work and dedication, such as teachers and supervisors. Good luck with your process, and don’t give up!
I live in a small town an hour and a half north of Seattle. The kids in my town that have applied to the University of Washington have received some sort of letter, but I have not. I emailed the admissions office and they emailed me back and said not to worry because the letters are sent out between March 15th and March 31st. Should I be worried?
If you’ve already contacted the school once and they told you not to worry, stay calm until you receive your mail. Letters go out in batches at different times, and your letter may not arrive until the end of the month. Don’t worry, simply focus on what’s in front of you and wait for the decision. A later letter doesn’t mean less likelihood of acceptance. It’s good that you contacted the school to ask, because it shows that you’re a serious student with lots of interest. If you don’t hear anything by the end of the month, it’s OK to contact the school once more and inquire about your application, but do so politely. Try not to worry too much — you’ll hear back very soon! Good luck!
I was not accepted by any of the California State Universities I wanted to go to and I am wondering if I could apply for spring term next year. Also, I do not want to fall behind in my studies, so is it possible to take classes at a community college while waiting?
First, check the admissions page of the school’s website, since not all schools offer spring admissions. If the school you’ve chosen does, you can absolutely apply during the next application season, and you can definitely take community college courses in the meantime. Don’t let a rejection hold you back. Do assess the reasons why you weren’t accepted, though, so that you can strengthen your application for the next round. Do you need to retake standardized tests for higher scores? Or, do you lack extracurricular activities? The more knowledgeable you are about your own strengths and weaknesses, the better chances you’ll have. Good luck!
I just graduated with my associates degree from a community college this spring and was planning to transfer to a 4-year college this fall. However, I received an email stating that I wasn’t accepted into any of the four year CUNY colleges. I don’t know what to do now.
I’m sorry to hear about your rejection, and I’m sure you’re disappointed. But it’s good to realize that many students face rejection during the admission process, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you should give up. It does mean that you could benefit from revisiting your application and evaluating which elements need to be strengthened. Do your grades stack up to the requirements? Did you write strong admissions essays? What about your community college transcripts? Because you are applying to large state universities, competition is tough and it may help to meet with an admissions adviser and discuss ways to strengthen your transcripts. This may mean re-taking courses where you earned lower grades, or finding an internship that would strengthen your experience and application. Don’t give up yet if a four-year degree is an important goal for you. Simply reach out to the school’s admissions office and try to set up a meeting with an adviser. There, you’ll likely receive helpful advice about next steps. Good luck!
I am a junior in high school. I had a 4.0 freshman year, a 3.71 sophomore year, and am estimating a 3.43/3.93 GPA for the end of this year. I struggled this year balancing a job and AP classes for the first time. I am also a member of a community service club, National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society, Model UN, and the school newspaper, as well as sports freshman and sophomore year (captain in one) and did the school musicals every year. Will the decline in my grades affect my application to colleges?
A decline in grades may indicate that you’re taking on a bit too much at once. Can you assess your schedule to determine whether certain activities are interfering with your studies? Perfect grades are never more important than a well-rounded educational experience, but when extracurricular activities cut into your studying time, they can affect your learning. Focus on raising your grades by soliciting the help and support you need from parents, tutors, teachers, and friends. You certainly should keep your college goals in sight and work hard to turn the downhill slide into an uphill climb. Also, if AP classes are too tough to earn at least a B, consider moving back to regular classes so that you study at the pace and rigor that’s right for you. Good luck!
I am a freshman who is involved in Young Life (like FCA), and I plan on be becoming a volunteer at the hospital when a space opens up. I want to get into The University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, but I am concerned about my first semester grades. I ended up with a B- average, but my goal for next semester is straight A’s. How greatly does my freshman average affect my college acceptance?
It’s great to hear that you are getting involved in extracurricular activities and volunteer work. It sounds like you have mapped out a plan for improvement, and that’s the best move you can make. Your freshman grades do count, but schools will be more interested in seeing improvement and success in your later years of high school. Steady improvement or consistently high grades from this point forward will show your commitment to education. Focus on what you can do moving forward to improve, and balance high grades with volunteer work and clubs. Of course, test scores, recommendations, and essays, along with your activities will all be major factors colleges will consider. Before you begin your next semester, you might reflect on what habits and obstacles kept you from achieving A’s your first semester. This way, you can create strategies for studying and earning high scores. Your goal of getting into a good college is certainly still within your reach.
I’m a senior in high school. I want to get involved in teams in college, even though I’m not an athlete. I have experience in dance, field hockey, running track, and musical. I would be happy to join anyone of these teams but I am not sure if I am ready for a college level. What can I do at this point to join a sport or club in college?
At most schools, there are plenty of opportunities to join clubs and intramural teams that invite students who aren’t official university athletes. You’ll just need to do a little research. You won’t likely find out about clubs and organizations until the beginning of your freshman year. At some schools, a club fair is hosted where you get to sign up for activities. At others, you’ll see flyers and signs informing you about meetings and receptions for those interested in joining a club. You can also head to the school’s website and search for intramural sports, which should show you which sports are available during which semesters. Usually, any student can sign up for intramural sports and play. If you’re nervous and want to plan ahead, you could always contact an admissions adviser or current student at the school and ask about the clubs and sports available. Good luck!
I have been having a bit of a problem with high school lately. I’m two months into the year as a freshman, and my grades are nothing like they were in middle school. I am currently taking honors and AP classes, but I only have 2 A’s, 2 B’s, a C, and a U for my elective. Would it be possible for me to bring most of my grades up to A’s?
It sounds like you are working hard, but experiencing difficulty with your schedule. First, don’t panic. High school is certainly tougher than middle school, and college is going to be tougher than high school. But, with adequate preparation and a closer look at your schedule, you can certainly pull up your grades and succeed. If you’re having trouble maintaining a ‘B’ or higher in an honors or AP class, it’s probably a good indication that your schedule is a bit too rigorous. It’s okay to take only one or two AP classes, and to stay in the regular grade-level courses for subjects that are giving you a struggle. If you’ll keep working hard, use resources like teachers, tutors, and parents who can help you manage your time and study effectively, you’ll see a rise in your grades. Freshman year is a learning curve. Stick with it! Good luck!
When I was ten my parents went through a horrible divorce. It hit me hard and I stopped doing well in school. I regret it now. I did not get my act together until last year, and it was also the year I got diagnosed with ADHD. I have medication now and it helps, but it was a little too late. I did not make the best of grades my junior year. I did well in sports, but not well enough for a scholarship. I am truly trying this year, but everyone keeps telling me it is too late. I am close to giving up hope. Can I make it to a four-year college with bad grades the first two years and okay grades the last two?
It is not too late for you to succeed, in fact, it is far from too late. However, what your friends and family might be suggesting is that it’s too late to enter the college admission process competitively the year you graduate. Without knowing all the details, it’s hard to know where you stand in terms of grades, extracurricular activities, and other elements. But, you do have options. One option is to begin your college career at a community college where admissions requirements are usually more lenient. A community college would allow you to build a higher GPA and a good foundation for college study habits. Then, after a year or two, you may be able to transfer to a four-year university and finish a bachelors degree. You can also assess your GPA and decide if there are four-year universities that match your profile in terms of minimum requirements. If your last two years of study have been positive, your GPA may be high enough to apply to some schools. Finally, make sure your test scores are really strong and that you have solid recommendation letters and meaningful extracurricular activities. Admissions committees often see students with poor grades early on and a rise in grades later, and your admissions essay is a great spot to discuss what you’ve overcome as well as your future goals and commitment to education. The most important thing to remember is this: Do not give up hope and determination. If you want a college education, you can work toward that goal and earn it. You’ll just have to put in some extra legwork to recover from those first two years of lower grades. Stay focused and positive. Good luck!
I just got rejected from a university. I went over my test scores with my high school counselor and he said I met the requirements. Why did I still get rejected? I had the minimum GPA and test score. Should I appeal? Can I reapply?
I’m sorry to hear that you are disappointed with the results. Let me assure you, though, that you can certainly reapply for the next application season, and hopefully you’ve applied to some other schools as well. It’s important to cast a wide net, as no school is a “sure bet” when it comes to college applications. Admissions are competitive, and having the requirements doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get in. A school may turn down many great candidates in an application season simply because the number of applications far exceeded the number of available spots. Please don’t get discouraged. Instead, think about what to do next. Can you start out at a community college and then apply for transfer? Are you still waiting on other applications? A rejection from one school does not mean that your chances are gone. It only means that that school had to make some tough decisions given the number of applications they received. You’ve got many options ahead of you, so stay positive and understand there are rejections along the way to any great goal. Good luck!
I had a hard time in my elementary and middle school years, academically and socially. I didn’t fit in and was bullied. I’m intelligent, and I read a lot of books and write fiction, but my grades never show what I can do. I’m diagnosed with a math learning disability. Most school days I find boring, and sometimes school is just overwhelming. Now I’m a high school junior and I so want to go to a really good private college, but between my mediocre grades and my awful ACT scores I don’t know where to even start. I feel hopeless when I get my scores. Soon it will be time to do my college applications and I just don’t see how I’ll ever get there. I am working a lot harder now but is it too late?
I’m sorry to hear that you’ve faced challenges, but I think it’s great that you know your strengths. There are plenty of schools that disregard standardized test scores or at least view them holistically. It sounds like you are more oriented toward arts, languages and humanities. Try to research schools with strong liberal arts programs. Since you want to attend a private college, the good news is that there are some private colleges that don’t necessarily weigh your test scores as highly as your extracurricular activities. It’s going to take research on your part, though, to find those schools. Here’s an 2012 study from the Washington Post that discusses schools that don’t require ACT or SAT scores. Make sure to research the websites of these schools, though, to find the most up to date information. Rest assured that there is a college out there for your strengths, talents, and goals. Weakness in one area will not prohibit you from attending a good school. Good luck!
The last past four years I’ve been a grad student and graduated with Master Degree. I just graduated in May and decided to go back to a Junior College to brush on my oral and written communication. I can’t seem to adjust. In graduate school, there was direct access to the professor, and in this particular school, there is not. It feels like high school. Should I give myself time to adjust, or is it time to move on?
I’m sorry to hear about your experience. Every school is different, and the number of students in the class as well as the number of classes a professor is required to teach can affect your access to the professor. Sometimes, a community college hires adjuncts who have a very large load of courses to teach. This can make the experience slightly less personal, because an adjunct professor sometimes cannot spend one-on-one time with every student. It’s up to you to decide whether you’ll gain something from the courses or not. If not, it’s wise to choose a different activity to build your communication skills. You might enroll in seminars or workshops in your community by searching online. Good luck with your decision!
I had a flawless college essay. I had written it multiple times. I also had my AP English teacher proofread my essay twice,however, at the very last minute I decided to add a sentence to my conclusion stating that I am a dual citizen. I misspelled dual with duel! I have a 3.9 and have taken eight AP classes. I also fall at the top of all my schools composite scores in the ACT. I am applying to B+ schools. Will this error ruin my chances of getting in?
No, this won’t ruin your chances of getting in. The essay has been submitted, so the best thing for you to do now is laugh about the mistake and forgive yourself. While it’s important to perfect and polish your admissions essay, everyone slips up sometimes and an admissions committee is not going to toss out your application because of one small error. It is likely, instead, that the readers may smile at this slightly humorous typo and then focus on the strong parts of your application that you described. It sounds like you’ve put a lot of effort into your application, and that effort should bring you some positive results. Don’t sweat a small mistake. But next time, make sure you proofread after any changes to a final essay! Good luck!
Five of the colleges to which I have applied report that I will find out about acceptance on the 1st of April. Is the acceptance always reported on this exact date, or do some schools let you know earlier even than the posted date?
Traditionally, colleges and universities notify applicants by postal mail, and this means that you can expect your answer somewhere near that date. It is possible that you will hear back before the date stated or even a few days later if mail is delayed. Some schools now email admissions decisions, but it all depends on the particular school to which you applied. If you do not hear back within one week of the date posted, it is appropriate to contact the school and inquire about the status of your application. Good luck to you!
I have done poorly in the two years of community college I’ve completed after finishing my military service.It was due to severe depression and personal difficulties regarding my prior service. Beginning in March of this year, I have declared a major, overcome my obstacles, and have been taking high level classes with straight A’s. My GPA went from 1.7 to 3.0 and should be between a 3.4 and 3.7 by the time I finish here. accumulative. My question is in regards to my chances at transferring to one of the best schools. I believe previous grades do me injustice if they are used to evaluate me as a student, but I am not sure who to talk to. I have a compelling essay to submit, and my plans are for a great life mission, yet, my past academic performance may prove undermining. Any reply would help.
Congratulations for overcoming obstacles. It sounds like you’ve really turned your life around. You should start researching universities you’d like to attend by going to their websites. They will show, under Admissions, the profile of most incoming students and the minimum requirements. You’ll see a GPA requirement and probably an SAT or ACT minimum. I wouldn’t want to deceive you by saying that you have a shot at top schools like Ivy League universities, because these require the strongest test scores, ample extracurricular activities, recommendation letters and top grades. However, you may be eligible to attend many good universities that have programs that interest you. Rather than thinking about top schools, think about what career fields you’d like to enter and look for a school that has strong programs that fit your interests. The college rankings from US News & World Report will help you get started. Finally, do consider discussing your growth and overcoming of obstacles in your admissions essay. If you can illustrate these hardships as lessons, rather than set-backs, you will show strong character and ambition. Good luck, and congratulations on your triumphs.
I’m about to be a senior in high school. I haven’t done very well my freshman, sophomore, and junior years. My GPA isn’t very high at the moment, and I’m so scared that I might not get into a good college. Is there a possibility that I can still get into a good college if I work hard senior year?
While I can’t predict your chances of getting into a particular school, you should know that most committees look at a student’s entire profile to determine whether or not to offer admission. If your grades are slightly lower, but your test scores are high and your extracurricular activities stand out, you may have a great shot at an acceptance. Also, look at state universities in your area that offer excellent education but don’t have as stringent admission requirements as some private schools or Ivy League institutions. My guess is that you can find a school that is right for you and if you work hard senior year, you can show that you are ready to excel. Another option is to consider attending a community college for the first year or two to build a solid GPA and develop proper study skills. This can help you earn admission to a four-year university, even if your high school record is not quite ready for admission. Good luck!
I moved to Illinois eight years ago from the Seattle area in Washington. I really want to go back to the West Coast for college and my dad took me on a few tours out there. Oregon State University is my dream college…the only problem is my mom. Money is not the issue – I qualify for a scholarship and my dad travels A LOT so he said I can get a plane ticket with his frequent fliers – the problem is how far it is. My mom is acting like if I go that far away I’ll never see her again. How do I convince her to let me go? I don’t want to be stuck in the Midwest forever.
I am so glad you found a college that seems like a great fit! It can be frustrating when a parent doesn’t see what an excellent choice it would be. One strategy might be to talk with your college counselor about why this is a school that interests you so much, and what your dilemma is. Then perhaps you could invite your mom in for a conference to discuss the pros and cons of this particular school. With the college counselor on your side, that can help open her eyes to the fact that you are exploring all kinds of options.
You also could enlist the help of a trusted friend or relative, who might be able to intercede on your behalf.
Finally, understand that your mom is just worried. She is concerned that her child is leaving her and that can be really tough on parents. Talk with her about your plans to keep in touch, and visit. Also, put some effort into being extra responsible and helpful around the house so she can see that you can handle this — she could be worried about your ability to be on your own.
I hope the situation works out for you!
I graduated this past year, and I immediately joined the Air Force. I haven’t gone to college, and I didn’t do so well in high school. I graduated with a 3.8 and had a few classes with low grades. My dream is to become a pediatrician, and I’m not sure if going to a community college for my core classes will help me get into the university of my dreams or not. What should I do?
Congratulations on your goals, and thank you for serving the country! You’ll find in the military that there are many opportunities to take college courses and even work on a degree while you are enlisted. Each branch and job is different, so you might speak with your supervisor to find out about opportunities for education while you serve. Many enlisted military members choose to take online classes or in-person classes on their base stations while enlisted, while others wait until they discharge and then use the GI Bill to earn a degree at a university or college. You’ll have many, many options. My best advice would be to start as early as you can toward a bachelors degree if pediatrics are your goal. You’ll have to attend medical school after your undergraduate degree is finished, which is something you could begin once you finish your military duty. Good luck!
Will a community college accept me even if I have failed in one subject?
While I can’t guarantee that any school will accept anyone, I can tell you that failing one class or subject area doesn’t automatically preclude you from entering college. Always read the admissions requirements page of a school’s website to see if there is a minimum GPA requirement or test score requirement to apply. If you meet those minimum requirements, you should not be discouraged from applying. An admissions essay is a great place to discuss obstacles you’ve overcome or areas you know you want to improve in college. If you’ve been weak in performing in one subject, you might discuss ways you’ve worked on improvement. Don’t be discouraged: Most schools want a versatile student body, and admissions committees will factor in your whole application and its many strengths. Good luck!
I have been at university for almost six years trying to earn a bachelor’s. I am nine credits away from graduating, but I have no motivation to pass my classes. I would like to transfer credits to a technical school and automatically earn an associate’s degree instead. I have one hundred credits right now, and an associate’s degree only requires sixty. Would it work this way?
Typically, no. Just because you have the quantity of credits for an associate’s degree doesn’t mean that any school will automatically award you one once they see your number of credits earned. An associates degree is still a number of credits earned toward a particular path of study, not just a total number accomplished that equals graduation. I would reflect on why you entered college to earn a bachelors in the first place before you decide to quit the task. With nine credits left, you are quite close, and a bachelors degree does open up the field of jobs to which you can apply. I suggest that you sit down with an advisor to discuss your career aspirations. Usually, when someone is unmotivated, they may be in the wrong field or working toward the wrong profession. You might be surprised how quickly a new career prospect might change your motivation. Advisors are skilled at assessing your strengths, weaknesses, and interests to match you with a career path that’s appropriate. Good luck, and don’t give up yet!
My son started his first year of college. He has attended for two days, and now wants to transfer to a different school. Can he transfer now to a school he was accepted to but declined? What should I advise him to do?
It isn’t uncommon for a student to want to transfer, come home, or quit during the first week or two of college. This is due to a combination of factors. First, homesickness can be a very real issue for some students who find the transition jolting. Second, while beginning college is a transitional period, many professors and courses do not treat it as such, and they sometimes hit the ground running with coursework and material. This isn’t done to scare away students, but to send a message that the courses will be rigorous and adjustment needs to happen quickly. The best thing you can do is to encourage your son to seek ways to adjust. Transferring isn’t typically possible once the semester has begun, and dropping out completely is not ideal. If he finishes the first semester and still wants to transfer, he will be able to apply as a transfer student. But encourage him to give it some time and to work through this difficult period. He may find that he’s in the right place, and that other students feel similarly apprehensive. Going to a few club meetings or social events may help him establish connections with other students who are in the same boat. Good luck!
I want to be admitted to college, but I fall victim to negative thinking constantly. How can I stop this from happening?
If you recognize the problem, you can turn things around. Usually negative thinking is triggered by fear or insecurity, and it can spiral out of hand if you don’t catch it and reverse it.
Next time you catch yourself thinking negatively, ask yourself: Why am I being hard on myself? Why am I criticizing myself and those around me? With practice, the negative thinking will go away. It’s just a habit, and all habits can be broken. Believe in yourself!
So I’m a sophomore, and I’m stressing out about college cause I feel like I won’t be accepted into any colleges because I’m not doing any IB, and I’m also not doing any sports. Also, I’m half Asian and I heard they’re harder on people who are Asian or half Asian because of that whole stereotype of ‘all Asians being smart’ but I’m not one of those Asians, I’m in the lowest math grade and yeah…should I just not go to college??
Thanks for touching base. It’s easy to start feeling stressed if everyone around you is, but there’s no reason to. And certainly counting yourself out of college as a sophomore is not the right road!
First, don’t worry about your ethnicity. Schools don’t have different standards for different ethnicity, they look at everyone the same.
It is true that schools consider rigor when they assess candidates, as in, if your high school offers IB classes and you didn’t take any of those classes. However, you are a sophomore so there is plenty of time to add a more advanced course or two. Choose ones that correlate with the subjects in which you perform best. You indicate that you are in a low math class, so that is probably not your forte, but do you prefer history or languages? That might be a good place to concentrate your efforts with an advanced class or two. The goal is to do as well as you can in the hardest classes in which you can succeed. Taking IB and doing poorly is not the path to success, but there may be one or two advanced classes that are better suited to your skills.
There is also a common myth that sports are the way to success, but that is not the case. Sure, lots of kids play sports and it shows colleges that you have the ability to time manage and be part of a team, but any extracurricular can do the same thing. Colleges like variety and there are many, many other activities that might be of more interest to you.
Have you considered drama, music or debate? Or community service or creative writing? There are so many different things that you could do, and yes, having a few activities will be of interest to colleges, but you should find a club or outside group that is of interest to you — and sports is certainly just one path.
Finally, don’t forget that there are all types of colleges. Another myth is that you need a 4.0 and a full slate of activities to get into any college. Some colleges are very, very selective but there are many, many more that don’t have those lofty requirements. With half your high school left, now is the time to find an activity that interests you, do the best in the classes that you have, plan to study and do well on your standardized tests and start exploring options of colleges that will be a great fit for you.
I wish you much success on your journey.
I’m a junior in high school and I am honestly completely terrified that I won’t get into my top choice college. I want to go to Virginia Tech. In 9th grade I didn’t care about grades but still managed to get mostly B’s with one C. Now I have all A’s because I care. There aren’t any extra curricular activities available for me at my school. I’m worried that VT will look at me and think, “Nothing special about her,” then toss me into the rejected pile. Is there anything I could do to make myself stand out to them?
Congratulations on working so hard to raise your grades! That’s very gratifying and attractive to colleges. Sorry that your school doesn’t offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, but it’s not too late to do something outside of school.
You are right that admissions offices are often looking for candidates with a little extra, but it doesn’t have to be due to school activities.Consider getting involved in volunteer work that interests you, whether it’s through a local hospital or animal shelter. See where there’s a need and if you can fill it.
On that note, if there’s a club or activity that you think others at your school would appreciate, consider starting it. Nothing shows dedication like being a leader! Get permission from your school administrators to make it an official club, or hold events offsite if it’s not official. Either way you will be demonstrating vision and dedication, not to mention accumulating interesting fodder for your future application essay.
You also should be sure to reach out to the admissions office and schedule an interview if you can — anything that you can do to go the extra mile to show your interest. And of course, a good score on the SAT/ACT can help.
Also keep in mind that there are lots of great schools out there. It’s easy to get set on one, but you should expand your range to other schools, as well, to keep your options open.
Good luck to you! I bet you can find something fantastic to do this summer that lends that extra bit of flair colleges are looking for.
I am a junior in college and I don’t really know what I will do with my major which makes me uneasy. My major is English, and as of now the plan is to be an English teach for high school students. I just don’t know how much I will actually enjoy that though. I love poetry, reading, and writing, but the only feasible option right now seems to be teaching. I feel stuck, and I don’t want to waste my time, and money on something that may not make me happy. Do I go with the flow of school and see where it takes me, or do I stop and think about this?
Hi there! You are smart to be thinking about your future, but please be assured that almost EVERYONE feels this way at some point in their college career. It’s scary to think about making a lifelong decision at this point.The good news is that it doesn’t have to be a lifelong decision! People change careers all the time and an English degree is a wonderfully solid background for whatever you decide to do. One of the best ways to determine what interests you is to “try out” some careers. Have you spent time in a high school English class? You might realize how inspiring and invigorating the environment is. See if you can spend some time at a local high school, shadowing, when your schedule permits. Talk to some teachers about what they like and don’t like. Another great option is to talk to your college counselor about what to do with an English major. You will be surprised at all the options — from writing to sales to a wide variety of industries. Make a list of things that you like and then do some online research to find out if there’s a career that would work for you. Poetry, reading and writing might fit in great with teaching English. They also might be the catalyst for working at a publishing company or in the office of a book publicist. See how many different angles there can be?Junior year is a great time to really start thinking about what you want to do, and the steps you need to take to get you there. And remember, if something isn’t what you thought it would be, you are NEVER stuck! There are always options. Since work IS a big part of your life, you want to make sure you feel fulfilled.And for those contemplating a major, remember that there are so many options and the more you research the more open your field will seem. Good luck! I hope you find some great career choices in your research.
If I did bad in my freshman year of high school, will it still impact my chances of getting into a good college?
One word: NO. We get this question a lot and I want to let ALL high school students know that nothing is irreversible. Naturally, the better you do starting out, the easier time you will have. But don’t despair that it is hopeless!Our questioner is actually in a great spot, heading into sophomore year with three years ahead to really clean up his/her act.Here is a simple action plan to undertake if you are trying to turn your high school career around, with the start of school coming up:1. Take a rigorous schedule. Schools like to see that you have mastered the hardest classes you can, as it predicts good outcomes in college and shows your dedication.2. Commit to doing your best in each class. Colleges like to see improvement in your grades, so work on making each year better than the last.3. Find an extracurricular to dive into. High school is a great time to try different things, so don’t feel as though you have to commit to something you don’t like, but if you can find something to devote most of your efforts to do, it is better to have lots of time on one activity than a little time on many diverse ones. Take a leadership role if possible, even.4. Prepare for your standardized testing. See if your high school offers a prep course and/or make use of the many free resources available online. You can start by searching this site for some resources.5. Relax and enjoy. Don’t forget to enjoy your time in high school for what it is, and don’t just treat it as a stepping stone to college.The best thing you can do this year is vow to make it your best year yet!
I have had a challenging home life for the past 16 years, and though intelligent, I haven’t really worked as hard as I could at school. It is the end of the first out of two semesters at my high school in my junior year and I have been working to change myself. I want to achieve and do well, but my GPA is a 3.2 and I have gotten at least one C every year in high school, including the past semester. I want to do well, but don’t know if it is worth trying for? Do colleges look more at your GPA than individual grades? What can I do now?
First of all, congratulations for your hard, hard work. It can be so hard to succeed with extenuating circumstances that other kids don’t have.
Positive attitude is so important, and you have persevered under extraordinary circumstances! Lots of kids get a C here and there, and lots of kids go to college with a 3.2. There are colleges for everyone. I don’t know if you’ve started looking around or know what you want to study, but start making a list of colleges that might be a good fit. They likely won’t be the most selective ones, but state schools and the like are wonderful opportunities.
Also, don’t discount smaller, private colleges. They often have a lot of aid to offer for kids who need it. I would make an appointment with your high school’s college counselor to discuss options.
The best thing to do now is to continue to apply yourself and find ways to raise your grades if possible. You might consider adding an AP course in a subject that really interests you as that can help boost your GPA.
Do you have a quiet place to study? Sometimes that can be challenging in some home environments. See if you can stay after school or study at the public library or a friend’s house.
And remember that your SAT or ACT scores will also figure into the colleges’ assessment so do what you can to really shine on those standardized tests. Many schools offer prep classes, or there are lots of free study aids online.
The most important thing to do is not be discouraged, and that goes for anyone reading this who may be in a similar situation. Striving to attend college is the best way to change your life for the better if your home life is more challenging than most.
I hope things turn out really, really well for you.