2 years ago
Admissions Advice

What are my chances?

I maintained a 4.0 gpa throughout my freshman and sophomore year and a 3.7 at the beginning of junior year, but towards the end of my junior year, I experienced a devastating loss in the family and overall was struggling with my mental health, and although I passed most of my exams with exceptional scores, my grades suffered a lot, and I failed one of my classes, but during my senior year, I maintained a 4.0 gpa, and I had very strong extra curriculars. I have passed 4 AP exams so far and am taking 4 more this year. I have a 30 on the ACT, and I hold multiple leadership positions school wide and state wide. Do you think that colleges would reject me because I failed that class even if I redeemed my gpa and turned around my academic history? This has been stressing me out, and I've looked at my chances on here, and it says that I have a good chance, but it doesn't reflect my failed class.

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4 answers

2 years ago

Colleges will not reject you because of your class failure and junior year performance. Admissions is holistic, so colleges do consider extenuating circumstances when evaluating you. You have also done all you need to in order to recover and show that your junior year grades were an exception. Explaining your circumstances in the Additional Information section of the Common App is another thing you should do as well. Hope this helps!

2 years ago[edited]

Hi @lucichuka,

Help me out here. You wrote, "but during my senior year, I maintained a 4.0,etc etc." Since school has started or just starting over the next week or so, how do you have a senior year 4.0 GPA? Did you already graduate high school?

It's clear from your paragraph that your GPA from 9th is 4.0, from 10th it's 4.0, then in 11th grade, you have a 3.7 but then it goes down much lower by the end of 11th due to "grades suffering a lot, and failed one of my classes". Then you write you have maintained a 4.0 during your senior year. So are you on a GAP year right now since the senior year is behind you?

I think applicants who have suffered some sort of temporary loss from mental health issues or some post-trauma from a death in the family will get some sort of empathy from college admissions readers but how much is the question right?

So you have to ask yourself if your high school narrative is 4.0, 4.0, (2.0-3.0), and 4.0, should you get a Pass in the 11th grade?

My recommendation to you is to:

1. Write an honest and concise explanation for the drop in grades during 11th grade in the additional information section of the common app. The prompt reads "Do you wish to provide details of circumstances or qualifications not reflected in the applications?"

Click YES. Then you have 650 words to explain your circumstances. Even though you have 650 words, my advice is not to use all 650 to tell a story. Use this to spell out the facts. Explain who died. Explain whether or not your trauma and mental health were related to the death. Explain whether you were already suffering from mental health issues already and this triggered a decline. Explain whether you went into therapy with the psychologist or psychiatrist who prescribed you medication for your depression, anxiety, or other symptoms. Explain how your school counselor, teachers and coaches, and adults helped you with catching up or missed assignments. Explain how much school attendance you missed over what period of time. Share how you got back on track and found some relief in order to get your grades back up.

2. Since the additional information section is just an opportunity to share, not any sort of guarantee that will ensure you get maximum consideration, you should re-adjust your college list to include schools that accepted students more in line with your current GPA, not your theoretical one (4.0 GPA), and your 30 ACT score if you wish to submit it.

Since no one knows the impact your statement will have on the leniency of the application reader, it would be impossible to plan for a certain outcome. Some readers are definitely more compassionate than others. And other readers have read 1000 sob stories about mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they have become desensitized to this. Since the pandemic affected millions of students from mild mental health to complete learning loss, it's fair to say that using the additional information section to explain away gaps, holes, poor ECs, bad grades, etc has been used a million times already.

Good luck.

2 years ago

You just have to mention it and the colleges will take it into account. There should be a space on the Common App (if your applying using it) that lets you give colleges information about any extenuating circumstances that might have affected you.

2 years ago

I'm not an expert, but I think that you don't have to worry about it too much. I think schools will see that you just had one bad year and have worked hard to recover your grades. Some colleges may even give you a chance to explain your circumstances in an essay or something. I would recommend doing so if given that option. Explaining how you were determined to overcome the obstacles life has given you is actually an excellent college essay (although a bit hackneyed) and shows colleges that you are a motivated and hard-working student.

Good luck :)

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)

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