What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

What's the best way to explain poor grades to colleges on an application?

I know that my early high school grades aren't as great as they could be (mostly Bs and Cs), but I've really improved over the years, and my recent grades are much higher. When I apply to college, how can I effectively explain my early struggles and demonstrate my growth to admissions officers?

9 months ago

It's admirable that you've shown improvement over the years and want to communicate that growth to the admissions officers. Here are a few ways to address your early struggles and showcase your progress:

1. Emphasize improvement: While discussing your academic history, emphasize how your grades have significantly improved over the years. This shows that you've taken steps to progress academically and can handle the rigors of college coursework.

2. Make use of the Additional Information section: Many college applications, including the Common Application, have an 'Additional Information' section where you can explain any extenuating circumstances that may have affected your grades. If there were personal or academic challenges you faced (such as health issues, family instability, or an unsupportive school environment) during your early high school years, this would be an appropriate place to provide context for your early struggles.

3. Letters of recommendation: Ask teachers or counselors who are familiar with your growth to highlight your improvement in their letters of recommendation. This external perspective can effectively reinforce your progress.

4. Address it in your personal statement (if relevant): If your early struggles and subsequent growth ties into the overall theme or narrative of your personal statement, it may be worth mentioning briefly in your essay. However, avoid making it the entire focus of your statement, as you'll also want to highlight other aspects of your character and accomplishments.

5. Participate in extracurricular activities: Engaging in extracurricular activities and showing dedication to them can help indicate your well-rounded development, which might alleviate concerns about your early academic performance.

Remember, colleges look at the entire application and often appreciate candidates who have shown improvement and resilience. Best of luck with your applications!

9 months ago

About CollegeVine’s Expert FAQ

CollegeVine’s Q&A seeks to offer informed perspectives on commonly asked admissions questions. Every answer is refined and validated by our team of admissions experts to ensure it resonates with trusted knowledge in the field.