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7 months ago
Admissions Advice

GPA improvement
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How can I improve my GPA? My career GPA (don’t know what that’s for even) is 2.9777 and my unweighted GPA is 2.5777 how can I improve those? I am in 10th grade and want to if at all possible get a 3.4. I am going to take one or two possibly AP/ IB classes and might even duel in roll to the local community college. Any other advice, suggestions?

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Accepted Answer
7 months ago

This is a question many students have asked -- and one whose answer is straightforward even if executing it isn't: develop and implement work strategies that set you up for success. My biggest piece of advice is to ask for help when you need it. This is the most important tool that successful students have in their arsenal; innumerable smart and hardworking students struggle in school because they refuse to ask for help, either because they are embarrassed or because they do not know it's available. While normally I might advise you to start by asking a peer to cover some gaps, based on your individual situation, it might serve you better to start by having sit down meetings with your teachers via Zoom, especially for the classes in which you are struggling. Explain to them that you are working hard but that you are having trouble translating that work into the necessary products (strong essays, efficient homework sessions, etc.), and ask what strategies they expect you to use or have been helpful for others. Chances are you aren't the first person to have trouble in their class, and they'll have some advice about how to go about it most effectively.

You can also reach out to your guidance office for help; they may be able to set you up with free tutoring programs through your school (e.g. many schools have chapters of National Honor Society, which often asks its members to tutor their peers as part of the organization's mission). Further, if you have extenuating circumstances, they may be able to help you secure extensions or accommodations that make your workload more manageable.

Together, you, your counselor, and your teachers can come up with a support plan that gives you the tools to succeed. It's up to you, however, to use them to achieve your goals. With this in mind, you have to set your priorities and then act accordingly. This may (but won't necessarily) entail giving up some activities that you enjoy (or do because you think you should) in order to make time to study or work in the ways you need to in order to do well academically. Of course, you should make these choices carefully; as I said, it's all about your priorities. If academic excellence is your number one priority, then you should commit to that, but if you need to emphasize working to support yourself or some other activity that is integral to who you are, then place that at the top of the list.

Some other advice: (1) Sit at the front of the class if classes are in person, and if they are virtual, leave your camera on (but microphone off unless instructed). This will force you to hold yourself accountable and pay attention more acutely. (2) Schedule your homework time in your calendar so that you know exactly when you're going to get it done and how much time you have to do so. You may go one step further and schedule each individual assignment to add structure and accountability (e.g. I will work on history from 4-5pm, do math from 5-5:45pm, eat dinner 6-6:30pm, write my English paper from 6:30-8pm). This will also help you catch yourself when you're falling behind so you know you'll need help before the last minute. (3) See if your school will allow you to retake some courses over the summer and replace the grade on your transcript. You should do better having seen the material before, and you should have smaller classes, which may mean more individual time with the teacher. There is no shame in taking summer classes or retaking a class you struggled in; it's a mark that you want to improve and that you are taking real steps to do so. (4) Take classes that interest you when you have the option. You will always be more successful if you enjoy the material because it will feel easy/exciting to do the work rather than like a chore. (5) Pursuing dual enrollment at your community college may be helpful; those classes may or may not factor into your GPA depending on your school's relationship with the community college, but even if they don't they'll likely prepare you to do well in your high school classes by reinforcing your learning and potentially pairing you with professors you connect well with. (6) Take care of yourself. Academics can seem all-consuming and stressful in high school, and you clearly place a premium value on your academic excellence. That is certainly not a problem, but don't let it get in the way of being healthy or honest with yourself. Go for a run if you need to clear your head. Get as much rest as you can. Don't kick yourself over a bad grade. Keep in mind that you're growing and learning all at the same time.

Regarding AP/IB courses (and advanced classes in general): these classes can be a helpful way of bringing up a weighted GPA if you do well in them (e.g. a B in an AP course is often numerically equivalent to an A in a non-honors course when calculating a WEIGHTED GPA). However, that extra weight does come with a considerably higher expectation and workload in most cases, so if you are feeling strained by your current workload, I would consider holding off on increasing the difficulty of your class schedule until you have made gains in your academic trajectory. In the longer term, colleges are often more forgiving if you have a rough first semester or two because they recognize the transition into high school is tough, but thereafter, they expect you to continue improving and challenging yourself. If you feel comfortable with your course schedule, feel free to take on additional challenging courses in future terms, but don't dive too deep too fast.

Though you may feel as though you're struggling and in a deep hole, you are capable of getting yourself on the right track. The mere fact that you are looking for ways to improve is a sign that you care and that you are invested in your own growth, and that motivation is the most important factor in getting where you want to be. I know the solution will not be an easy one, and it is one you have to constantly work at, modify, and tailor to your own personal needs, but it is clear that you have the will to achieve your goals and a sensible head on your shoulders. I wish you the best of luck in the coming years, but that doesn't mean you have to wait years to make change. Get out there, ask for what you need, and then get it! You got this.

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