I really need to raise my GPA
I am a junior, and I was convinced that my GPA weather was 3.77 but it turns out that is weighted so it would be around 3.02. How can I raise it how long would it take? All my other years I was always an above-90 student but this year I have been struggling with two classes and my grades have dropped a bit and I failed 2 classes in my most recent quarter. This year has not been very good for me in any way and I have had many problems in my house and personal, will colleges understand that? I am just really worried and I'm freaking out. I kinda want to go to one of the UC schools, so what do you recommend I do, ater looking at my profile, are those reasonable choices of schools? or should I just find others? Please help and I'm sorry if I am being repetitive or something like that, but I am really nervous. Thank you!!
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Answering this question is a little tricky. First of all, admissions officers will be at least somewhat understanding. Many students faced very real struggles academically and otherwise during the pandemic, and this is why the Common App has a COVID-specific response in addition to it's normal "additional information section" where you can expand on the ways in which the pandemic has hindered your academic success. I also just want to note that it's likely all going to turn out all right. Whether or not you can raise your GPA significantly and get into highly selective programs like the UCs, you will still surely be able to have a great college experience that will prepare you well for a variety of careers. The more you can raise your GPA before next fall, the better. That said, even if you can't improve it at all, there are still plenty of schools you can get into with a 3.02.
The degree to which you can raise your GPA depends on a variety of factors including how many classes you've taken up to this point, how many classes you're taking right now, and how many you can take next year. You may be in an especially difficult position at the UCs because they mostly only consider sophomore and junior year grades. At other schools, I'd recommend applying regular decision instead of early action so that you have more time to improve your GPA during your senior year before you submit your applications. Chancing you just from your GPA is basically impossible (your chances of acceptance at any school also heavily depend on your standardized test scores, extracurriculars, essays, course rigor, and demographics). For the UCs specifically, whether or not you live in California is also very important. 3.02 is quite low for any of the UC schools (according to our data, the UC schools with the lowest 25th percentile accepted student unweighted GPAs are UCSC at 3.28 and Mercer at 3.29). If you're specifically interested California state schools, I'd also recommend looking into the Cal State programs.
If you want to see your chances of acceptance at the UCs and/or other schools, you should check out our chancing engine! (Just fill out your profile and then head over to the 'find schools' tab.)
The colleges will understand your problem. Make sure to not make it sound like pity, if that makes sense.
Strategy 1: Take Less Difficult Classes
This isn't something I would normally advocate, but if your GPA is really suffering because of a low grade in a high-level class, it may be time to cut your losses. It can help both your GPA and mental health. You may be able to get a significantly better grade in a lower-level class very quickly, thus raising your GPA much faster than if you continued to struggle in a difficult course.
For example, if you're getting a C in Honors Calculus, it will require a lot of effort to improve that grade, and the change in your GPA will be minor or nonexistent. If you decided to drop down to a lower-level math class, you might be familiar with some of the concepts since you already experienced a more fast-paced class, and you could get a much higher grade fairly easily. If your school uses weighted GPAs, a C in a high-level class might translate to a 3.0. If you drop down to a low-level class and start getting As, those grades will translate to a 4.0. That's a big difference in a short period of time!
Strategy 2: Take More Classes
This is a way to raise your GPA quickly that some people don't really think about because it seems somewhat counterintuitive. Why would you take more classes if you're struggling? The thing is, it's not just core classes that make up your GPA. Electives also play into GPA. If you have a free period right now, you might consider taking an elective that you find interesting to fill up the space and raise your GPA.
Many of these classes won't present a big challenge, and they can be a fun break from your regular classes where you won't have to put in as much effort to get good grades. This is a strategy to be used with caution. I'm not trying to say "just go for the easy A and you'll be fine." Keep in mind that this may be a viable strategy to raise your GPA fast, but it's not necessarily a good way to ensure that you'll get accepted to a great college.
Colleges will be able to see your grades in specific classes and exactly how you ended up with your current GPA. Taking an easy elective will raise your GPA quickly, but it's kind of like putting a band-aid on a stab wound. It absolutely doesn't mean you should stop trying to raise your grades in core classes. To make really meaningful changes in your chances at college admission, you will need to address deeper issues with grades in the main subject areas.
Taking an easy class and seeing a quick positive change in your GPA may put you in a better mindset to tackle more daunting problems that you face in your core classes. You can create a positive mental feedback loop that will help you to keep up the motivation to work hard in your classes even if an A in "Foods 1" or something isn't going to persuade selective colleges to admit you.
Strategy 3: Work on Doing Better in Weighted GPA Classes
If your school uses weighted GPA and you're in some AP or Honors classes where less than perfect grades will translate into impressive GPAs, you should focus your efforts on raising your grades in those classes. On weighted GPA scales, GPAs often go up to a 5.0 rather than a 4.0 to account for more difficult classes. This means that a B in an Honors class translates to a 4.0, and an A translates into a 5.0.
The potential for your grades to lead to a very high GPA is greater in these classes, so they have a better chance at raising your overall GPA. It makes sense to devote a significant chunk of your energy to these classes because they naturally require more time and effort if you hope to get good grades. If you're choosing to avoid the work in favor of easier assignments, that might be a big part of your problem.
It's also more impressive to colleges if you can manage to improve your grades in high-level classes. Raising your grades in a lower level class the same amount might give you the same GPA, but it won't necessarily look as good to admissions officers. You should channel the majority of your energy into the most challenging courses.
Strategy 4: Focus on Standardized Test Scores
Technically, this isn't a strategy for raising your GPA. However, if it's too late to raise your GPA before you apply to college, improving standardized test scores is your best bet for stronger admissions chances. For students headed into their senior year with a less than stellar GPA, improving standardized test scores can make a huge impact on how they fare in the college application process.
With, say, a 200 point improvement in your SAT scores, you will have a chance at getting into literally hundreds more colleges. This isn't an easy feat, but it's certainly achievable with a few months of concentrated studying.
To use an example, let's say you're interested in attending SUNY Stony Brook and have a 2.9 GPA and a 1340 SAT score. If you managed to raise your score from a 1340 to a 1540, you would have a 20% chance of admission with the higher score as opposed to a 6% chance with the lower score. And that's with no change at all in your GPA!
Sometimes the most practical thing to do is to focus on scores rather than grades, especially if you're already in your second semester of junior year. You can retake the SAT and ACT up until the winter of your senior year if you're applying to college regular decision.
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