i have low GPA. around 3.13. so can i get into top colleges?Answered
i really messed up in my freshman year of my high school and got low GPA. i am currently in junior year of high school. So, how can i increase my chances to get into top colleges like Stanford, MIT, Harvard and much more.
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I'm not going to say you have a guarantee of getting into any of those schools, because no one does (even with a 4.0). However, a couple of things that you can do that would increase your chances/provide meaning to your academic improvement are:
- maintaining good grades in your classes and developing a close connection with teachers so their recs can be a testament to your improvement/hard work. Additionally taking AP courses and doing well (4-5) on the AP exam, or enrolling in a college program for credit over the summer and doing well in that will help demonstrate your academic strength.
- include an explanation for your low grades and improvement somewhere in your application. There is a section for additional info on the common app and if you feel that your improvement is significant enough, you could write a supplemental essay on your experience of going from uncommitted to a "top student" in your class- just be careful that it doesn't read as cliche or an "inspiration dump". Only go this route if you have something truly original and interesting to say (a lackluster academic improvement essay can feel halfhearted or as though the student lacks substance).
- think carefully about your outside-of-school activities and responsibilities, and what they convey about you. Maybe after learning to better study and commit to your classes, you started to run study groups to share the love. Perhaps you mentor children in your free time or take pride in helping a younger sibling with their homework.
Although academics play a big role in college admissions, your story does as well. If you get past the initial "academic filter" of a college, then admissions counselors want to know who you are as a person. I know a couple of people who struggled in school initially or had a C in a certain class. They still got into great schools because of their other qualities and the meaning they extracted from their high school journey in their application.
Finally, I would say that you truly need to think about what sort of school you're interested in. This doesn't mean you necessarily need to know your major. Maybe a certain learning style, class structure, or campus community appeals to you. Figuring out what this is and aiming for a more specific profile than just "top colleges" will help you greatly. While "name brand" schools are great, applying to schools that you like (both high and low in the rankings) and letting go of "prestige pursuit" will allow you to understand what kind of schools you have a better chance of being accepted to (some value GPA more, while others prized standardized test scores, at least before COVID), release unnecessary pressure off of your shoulders, and show the places you're applying to that you value them for more than just their ranking (after all, that's what you're asking them to do for you!).
I wouldn't keep my hope up. Even if you get perfect 4.0 grades for the next 3 semesters, you'll only have a 3.5 by the time you apply for regular decision senior year. Unless you are a recruited athlete, super-rich or have parents that attended those schools PLUS all the other check boxes these schools are looking for, perhaps you need to figure out how to take back your year. Good luck.
A point to note is that those colleges are extremely hard to get into regardless of how great your GPA is. However, how do your grades look after freshman year ? Have you shown an upward trend? Have you maintained your high grades throughout the years? If the answer is yes then you can explain why you had lower freshman grades in the additional information section of the common app. Explain why you didn’t do well, what you learnt from it and how it ultimately made you a stronger student.
Additionally make sure the rest of your application is solid with good ECs and letters of recommendation.
Again, your GPA can be raised by consistently getting good grades in your remaining two years in HS. Take as many AP classes as you can without dropping your grades. Colleges look for that. Pick up a musical instrument and join your school band. That will count for an EC. Take the SAT or ACT in your junior and senior years to get the best possible score. Good luck, hope this helps!
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