Got some bad grades from early on in high school? ⁠Worried that they might affect your chances of getting into college? While grades certainly reflect some aspects of your capability as a student, they’re not all that matters. Some people might have strengths in areas others will have weaknesses. It’s really important to know your own strengths and use them to your best advantage.

People stress about grades, but truthfully, if you are not the strongest student, there are still so many qualities that a college admissions office will see in you.


A common misconception is that if your grades are not where you want them to be, you won’t be accepted into any college! People might have told you things like:

“If your grades suffer at the start of high school, it will ruin your chances of getting into college,” or “your grades from 9th grade til 11th grade will determine your college acceptance.” Sometimes they will go so far as to say “you need perfect grades to get into college.”

It’s tough to know what to expect from college before having been there. Claims like the one mentioned above can’t be further from the truth! Such claims only help to discourage people from pursuing their dreams!

Admissions offices understand the challenges that students may face with adapting to harder courses each year. Although, these counselors also recognize and really value progress.⁠

The Facts

Improvement Matters: The fact of the matter is: admissions counselors look for upward trends and improvements over the course of your high school career⁠. If you show improvement throughout the course of your high school career, then your chances of getting into college are already competitive! Supplement that with some average to above-average test scores⁠ for some extra leverage, and you will be well on your way.

Build Leadership Skills: Although, don’t be alarmed! Consideration is not only limited to tests and grades! Admissions counselors consider and weigh what kind of person you are, your lifestyle, the activities in which you participate, your honors, and your achievements. These can often be more telling than a student transcript. And if a teacher with whom you share a good relationship can attest to this in a Letter of Recommendation, that will only boost your odds even more.

So, Do Grades Matter?

The bottom line: grades do have weight, but they are not a golden ticket to college. Not everyone realizes the importance of education early in high school. Not realizing this can make your GPA suffer, but that’s not a problem as long as you show consistent improvement afterward.

That being said, being a good candidate for college or university is less about your actual GPA than it is about your improvement and development of skills over time.

Colleges want to see that you want to go; that you are fully motivated. If you have good grades, then that’s great! Now it could be time to focus on an extracurricular activity. If your grades are not up to college standards, you still have time to make them better. Furthermore, you still have time to develop your skills to match those of someone who really wants to succeed in higher education.

Always remember, college is for the benefit of no one other than yourself. So no matter what kinds of grades you may have had, if they reflect an upward trend, and if you put some genuine effort into developing your personality through sports, clubs, or other extracurricular, documentable activities, then you can count on yourself to propel you to the next level.