Too many students believe that if you don’t have perfect grades, perfect test scores, and a certificate proclaiming that you invented plutonium, you’re not going to get into college today. That’s just not true. If you’re a “B” or even a “C” student, you can still go to a good college if you want to. Here a few tips to give you even more college options.
1. Remember that it’s never too late to improve.
If you feel that your GPA isn’t a good representation of how well you can really do, start improving now. It’s almost certainly not too late. Colleges will look closely at your junior year performance, and many will even take the first semester of your senior year into account. They’ll also pay attention to your trend of improvement. Don’t give up. Show them that you’re getting better with age. Even if you’ve only got one semester left to show colleges what you’re capable of doing, show them! Start now.
2. Maximize your academic strengths.
Yes, it’s important to try hard in all your classes. But a lot of students spend so much time trying to fix academic weaknesses that they forget to make the most of their natural academic strengths. If you’ve always liked history, take demanding history courses. Be especially engaged your history classes by raising your hand and asking questions. Take a Civil War history class over the summer at a local community college. Colleges aren’t just looking at your overall GPA. They’re always looking for individual areas of academic spark.
3. Be a savvy college shopper.
Don’t lament the fact that you won’t necessarily be competitive for the same twenty schools everyone else wants to attend. Instead, embrace just how many college options you really have. There are 2500 colleges out there and all but about 100 of them take virtually everyone who applies. Buy a college guidebook. Go to a local college fair. Make it your mission to find colleges that are right for you. (They are out there, we promise!) You’ll be a lot more optimistic and the colleges will be impressed with your thorough college research.
4. Take responsibility for your academic performance.
A lot of students try to blame other people for their own academic shortcomings, saying things like, “I got a ‘D’ because my teacher didn’t like me.” Colleges don’t want students who make excuses. If you haven’t done as well as you’d like to have done in high school, admit it and be honest about why that happened. Show colleges that you’ve learned from your mistakes by admitting fault and turning your performance around immediately. Colleges will be impressed by the maturity you show when you take responsibility and do what it takes to change.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Many of the students who earn the best grades are also the ones who aren’t afraid to admit when they just don’t get it. There’s no shame in asking for some help. So if you didn’t understand a single syllable in your trigonometry class today, ask the teacher for help. If you studied really hard and still did poorly on your chemistry test, meet with your teacher and try to find out where you went wrong. And if you’re having trouble in a number of your classes and think you might need to make some changes, talk with your counselor and get her advice. Students who are willing to ask for a little extra help when they need it are the ones who impress teachers, counselors and colleges.