Grades & GPA
The Admissions Office says:
There's no question that GPA matters, especially at leading colleges that are highly selective in their admissions. But bear two things in mind:
1. Colleges look at the whole person, not just the transcript.
2. If you're not satisfied with your grades, you've still got some time to turn things around. You've got the remainder of your sophomore year ahead, plus your junior and senior years, to focus on improving your grades and study habits. Meet with your guidance counselor for some advice. Talk with teachers in the classes that have been most difficult for you. They may be able to help you work on problem areas and figure out a plan to improve your performance.
The school system in my country doesn't calculate GPA. What should I do? The Admissions Office says:We know that GPA (grade point average) is not used in many non-US schools so this question may be left blank on your application. It would be helpful if your school official or counselor could submit the “International Supplement” from the Common Application which explains grading and curriculum in your school.
The Admissions Office says:We'll look most closely at weighted GPA, if that information is provided. Some high schools do not use weighted GPA, and other schools will send us both weighted and unweighted GPA. We will review the information provided by each high school realizing that different high schools will report GPA in different ways. The most important part of your application is the transcript which lists the courses you have taken and how you have performed. We want to see that you are taking challenging courses and that you are improving and succeeding in them.
My grades during freshman year weren't very good, but since then they have improved tremendously. Will my freshman grades keep me from being accepted at a rigorous school like Carleton? The Admissions Office says:
There is no question that we consider GPA in making our decisions. That said, we also know that students sometimes face an adjustment period from middle school to high school. If a student has less-than-stellar grades in 9th grade, we hope to see that two things have happened since then:
1) That they have continued to pursue a rigorous program (honors, AP, IB, or whatever is available at a given school) in all five core subject areas (math, science, English, social studies and a foreign language).
2) That they have improved their academic performance steadily with each passing year.
It is also important to remember that while the GPA is an important factor, it is not the only factor considered (at least not at Carleton). We look at everything in the application, including the essay, the short answer supplement and the recommendations, to get as complete a picture of a student as possible.
So, while we have no way of knowing what the final decision would be, just know that a lower GPA from your freshman year does not count you out.
The Admissions Office says:
At Carleton, no. We want to get the whole picture before we make a decision about a prospective student, so we do not accept or reject anyone based solely on grade-point average (GPA) or scores on tests like the SAT I and ACT. We do require that you take one of those tests as part of the application process, though.
Please note: Some colleges do set a minimum threshhold for GPA or test scores, so it's important to get specific information on admission requirements from each college you are considering.