By Noël Rozny
Web Editor & Content Manager
It’s no secret that high school students will calculate and recalculate their grade point averages over and over again during the college admissions process, hoping that it’s high enough to get into the perfect school. (I know I did.)
But what can you do if it’s just not high enough?
Contrary to popular belief, a low GPA isn’t a death sentence. There are plenty of things you can do to fix whatever went wrong and start earning better marks to boost your average. Here are five steps to help you get started.
Step #1: Evaluate Where You Are
The first step is to evaluate where you are in your high school career, and if there’s enough time to raise your grade point average before you apply to college. If you’re a freshman, for example, and you just fell a little behind during your first year, you still have plenty of time to hit the books and earn some stellar grades. If you’re about to head into your junior or senior year, however, you may need to explore other options, such as taking summer classes.
Step #2: Talk to Your Guidance Counselor
The best asset in your evaluation process is your guidance counselor. They can help you review all of your transcripts, evaluate the damage, and help you plot a course of action. They’ll know the target GPA requirements for the colleges you plan on applying to, and they can help you select which courses to take in coming semester (and what grades you need to get) to prove the bad grades are behind you. They’ll also know of any additional programs you can enroll in to retake any classes, such as …
Step #3: Check Summer School Options
Summer school is an option (and may even be a requirement) if you failed any of your classes. I know the thought of sitting in a classroom when it’s 80 degrees and sunny outside is totally unappealing, but it may just be your ticket to a better grade point. Summer classes don’t always override your previous grade (it depends on your school’s specific policy), but they might. If nothing else, they can show your determination to learn the subject matter and perform better (which looks good to any college admissions counselor).
Step #4: Use Local Options to Your Advantage
If you’re already a senior and your overall GPA is extremely low, you may not have enough time to enroll in summer courses to raise it. If this is the case, you may want to consider starting at your local community college in the fall, where you can bring your grades up while simultaneously earning credits you can transfer to a four-year college or university.
Step #5: Know What Went Wrong
This is the most important part of your plan. Do you know what went wrong with your grades? Did you earn poor marks because you were distracted by friends, extracurricular activities, or issues at home? Was finding the right study techniques an issue? Or did you really struggle with the material?
Once you’ve identified why you struggled in school, you can take steps to address it. If you couldn’t juggle all of your commitments, you’ll need to readjust your schedule. If you had a hard time studying, get advice on how to improve those skills. And if there was one particular subject that really gave you trouble, consider seeking out a tutor to get you back on track.