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How to Get Into College with a Less-than-Perfect GPA

When it comes to getting into college, grades definitely matter. You can take steps to improve your academic standing and lessen the impact of any poor grades you've already earned. Learn eight strategies that may help with admissions if you have less-than-perfect grades.

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People often declare that admission to college rests squarely on your GPA between freshmen and junior years. If your GPA during those years isn't impressive, know that you can still get into college. Follow the steps below to make college a reality.

1. Don't give up.

Do all that you can to do well during your senior year, because any move in the right direction makes a big impression on an admissions committee. Get the best grades you can in the most rigorous classes you can schedule. Get tutoring if you need it, but stay on track.

2. Tell your story.

Don't be afraid to share any information that might explain your grades with the admissions committee. If you worked full-time while going to school, took care of younger brothers or sisters, or had significant issues with your family, let them know. Admissions committees like to see a complete picture of who you are.

3. Maintain your commitments.

Your GPA is a primary factor in college admission, but what you do outside of school is important, too. If you've been in the school band for three years, keep it up as a senior. Don't add a bunch of activities in your senior year, though - it's more impressive to be committed to one major activity than to simply be a member of many clubs.

4. Widen your net.

If your research indicates you might be less than qualified for a specific school, keep looking. You may uncover a school that's perfect for you! Don't fixate on one school and set yourself up for disappointment. There are over 4,000 schools in the United States; you will find one for you!

5. Work hard on your essay.

The application essay represents an opportunity for you to show what you're about, particularly if the school doesn't typically grant admission interviews. If your grades aren't where you think they should be, it becomes even more important for you to submit a thoughtful, well-written essay.

6. Take advantage of special admissions programs.

Some schools offer spring enrollment and have special admissions programs for students who haven't reached their full potential in the classroom. Such initiatives often feature extra academic supports that can help promote college success and offer a bridge between high school and college.

7. Go to a community college.

Community colleges offer open enrollment. One great semester at a community college can lessen the blow of a bad high school GPA. If you plan to transfer, just remember to contact any potential 4-year schools before choosing your community college classes. Taking the wrong classes may get you a great GPA but keep you farther away from graduation.

8. Talk with your counselor.

The college admissions process can be daunting, but you don't have to go through it alone. Enlist the help of a counselor for insight on how to minimize the negative effects of a poor GPA.

Confused by the college admissions game? Learn about one institution's admissions process.

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