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Freshman year killing GPA
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My freshman year was not a very good one and it really brought my grades down. If you don't count it I would have a high 3.95+ GPA but due to it, it went down to a low 3.8. How will I tell top colleges this?

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Honestly, 9th grade doesn't matter as much as 10th and 11th as long as you show an upwards progression up until you apply to colleges. What I mean by that is college admissions officers like to see an upward trend. If you have a 4.0, 4.0, 4.0, 4.0 that's great but they might think that HS is too easy for you and what are you doing to challenge yourself? IMO, it's better to have a 3.8, 3.92, 3.96, 4.0 which shows an upward trend. Also, get that upward trend with more rigorous classes as well. So 10th, take 1 or 2 honors/AP classes, 11th take 3 or 4 honor/AP classes and 12 take 5 or 6 honors or AP Classes. That way your weighted GPA will look like 4.15, 4.45, 4.65 something like that okay? Shoot for an unweighted GPA of 3.90+ and a weighted GPA of 4.30+. 1/2 of Harvard/Stanford applicants have perfect grades and stats and they get rejected so it's not all about grades, it's many other factors, keep that in mind.

It's the same if you are a recruited athlete. If you are an 800M runner coaches will want you if your 9-12th grade times are 2.15, 2.05, 1.58, 1.53. not if you times are 2.05, 2.05, 2.05, 2.05. As long as your rigor and grades go up you have nothing to explain. No one expects 9th graders to be perfect anyway.

just to add i don’t think colleges can see your gpa after every year; they only see the gpa that you have at the end of junior year
If you apply RD like most students in Jan 2021, colleges will see your mid-term grades and GPA as part of the application review process. They will take your 3 1/2 years of grades and GPA into consideration prior to making a decision to accept, waitlist, or reject. Furthermore, if you botch up your last term, say turn in a 2.0 GPA for the last term, they may rescind your acceptance. This is something that happened to someone I knew who had severe senioritis. UCLA said "sorry but you'll have to go"
Also, note that some colleges don't even use freshman grades: like the entire UC system and most of the CalState system (which the exception of SLO)
answered on
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I don't think you have to. When colleges look at your transcript, they look at it as a whole. If they see that your grades have significantly improved since freshman year and that you're on the right track, then you should be fine. If anything was happening that impacted you during your freshman year, during an interview or in the comments section you can always say what happened here. But if you just slacked of because it was freshman year, then you should be fine as long as you show an upward trend. Don't stress about it too much though; I'm sure you're a great student! Good luck with everything :)