Trend upwards

Most students and parents have heard the message that the best way to improve your chances of admission to college is to get good grades in challenging courses. But if you’re a freshman, sophomore, or junior who feels like you haven’t necessarily shown colleges what you’re capable of, it’s not too late.

Your list of classes and accompanying GPA provides a nice summary of your academic career. But many colleges, especially private schools, will also look at your academic trends. Do you appear to be getting academically stronger with age? Are you progressively challenging yourself more, and performing better in those classes, than you have in the past? Colleges call this an upward trend, and it can sometimes prove to be just as important (if not more so) as the sum of your academic accomplishments.

This is particularly important for a student who may feel dejected about underperforming, one who is worried that her college fate has already been sealed and may not see the point of working harder. There’s still time. This semester, next semester, next year, etc. Colleges will even evaluate your course selection for your senior year, and many schools will also look at your seventh semester (the first semester of your senior year) grades before they make an admissions decision. That means even a junior still has several vital opportunities left to buckle down and trend upward.

There’s no way to erase what’s happened in the past. But it’s not too late to start a new trend.