GPA isn't everything but do colleges actually care for explanations?
I am planning to apply to California universities where freshman year isn't counted, that however puts more weight onto sophomore and junior year, the first half of sophomore year I had a GPA of around 3.6 (I am not sure since I am international and my countries grades are notoriously hard to translate into GPA). The reason for this is that where I am from you only choose your core subjects in junior year which means I have some classes I suck at that I have to attend up until junior year. My sister was diagnosed with a deadly genetic disease and I had to be tested too as there is a 50% likelihood of me having it too. This happened around the middle of the first half of sophomore year. After the worst 3/4 of a year in my life, my sister got an experimental hormonal treatment that seems to work. I am lucky to be healthy, but I did have to cook for her, make sure she takes her meds, etc. This has led me to a GPA in the low 3. Area. I have run some calculations and the best possible outcome for me is a cumulative GPA of 3.6 at the end of junior year. This totally destroys my plan to apply REA to my dream school. I know GPA isn't everything and that admissions are holistic. This is also not supposed to be an excuse for me slacking, I had family business that was simply more important than my French homework. I do believe however there is an unofficial cutoff at my dream school in California. Without naming the school and without considering my extracurriculars etc., do colleges/universities actually care about an explanation you give in the additional information section?
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Let me start off by saying what you were going through isn't excuse because you were needed to provide for your family and you did, which is more important than school. The fact that you managed to take care of your sister and still have a 3.6 is an accomplishment. I'm not sure if admissions officers ask about an explanation for your grades because their school might have a lot of applicants.
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