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Will a bad freshman year in Highschool really hurt my chances of getting into my dream schools or were my teachers just scaring me?

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Subject: Career question for you

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Michael’s Answer

Hey Mike - college recruiters love a redemption story, and value the character it takes to transform a GPA. Although your GPA might not have been exactly where you wanted it your Freshman year, if you can earn a high GPA your sophomore - senior years the freshman year setback shouldn't hold much weight. If you can steadily increase your GPA over the next few years, that will demonstrate growth and progression to the college and recruiter a like. Best of luck!
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John’s Answer

Mike your high school transcript will be an important admissions consideration at most schools. This is not to say that you need to have a 4.0 GPA. Good grades are important, but admissions officers are also looking for academic curiosity and an indication that you value your learning by taking challenging coursework. For example, a B in an AP class may bring down your GPA, but will carry more weight on your college application than an A in a remedial class.

Keep in mind Mike, along with High School transcripts and your SAT score, many schools include an essay component in their applications to get a better idea of who an applicant is as a person. While completing this part of the application might sound intimidating, it's a great chance for you to show what sets you apart from other prospective students. The most important thing to remember is to be open and honest. Don't worry about what you think you should say. Instead, use the opportunity to communicate who you genuinely are. Your college application itself serves to demonstrate the attributes that will make you a successful college student. In addition to academic ability, many schools name character and integrity as high priorities when considering applicants.

• Including a list of volunteer work, part-time jobs, or community service alongside an explanation of what you learned from these experiences and how you contributed to a workplace or organization.
• Asking for recommendations from teachers and other adults who can vouch for your academic performance as well as personal qualities and characteristics.
• Detailing any and all examples of your leadership abilities and skills. Don't think that you have to be your senior class president to make an impression; it is the demonstration of leadership skills – in any group or situation – that counts.
• Keeping your social media presence clear of anything you wouldn't want a college admissions officer to see. Roughly 40% of schools report that they check out the social media profiles of applicants.

Most college admissions officers are looking for students who demonstrate genuine interest in attending their schools. Show that you want to be a part of a school's student body by applying for early admission and taking part in campus visits. Interviewing with admissions officers could also be especially helpful Mike.

Good Luck Mike

Thank you Kim for your continued support. It's true, spectacular preparation always precedes spectacular performance. John Frick

Thank You Yichi. When we change our thinking, we change actions, when we change our actions we change our futures. John Frick

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Jason’s Answer

Hi Mike,

There have been some great responses to this question already but I wanted to add some additional insight. Remember that a collegiate institution in spite of pretentions is ultimately a business and if you are willing to pay you can play. Grades will often affect scholarships or grant monies meaning you may pay more that you otherwise would. Poor grades can also prohibit you from getting into the program you desire but there are a lot of options out there. Additionally, many Universities will take a student on academic probation to help them get up to the standard they demand.

I would like to call out out the notion of a "Dream School". It is certain that some schools (or rather certain programs within the school) are better than others but while there are some notable exceptions, the specific institution you attend rarely matters as long the accreditation is applicable in your field of study/interest. The bigger issue is your field of study/interest. The College you attend is not, or should not be the "Dream". The outcomes you receive through your education ought to the the goal and for most students that equals a meaningful career or skill that will be used after graduation. Too many people in academia put so much pressure on grades and college admission that the ultimate purpose behind the education is sometimes lost in the process. School itself is not the the goal, it is a means to fulfilling greater aspirations.

Lastly, I would encourage you apply yourself and do your best. Striving to do your best develops character and high school is a great training ground to develop self mastery and the skills needed to be successful in life. Do your best now and you will thank yourself later.
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Christopher’s Answer

Hi Mike!

The short answer is no, it won't matter. What matters is how you bounce back from the low GPA. Like someone else said, colleges love a comeback story. It shows that you grew from the experience and turned it into a positive. Colleges usually take a holistic approach to admissions which means they look at more than just GPA. If you write a good letter with your application and you tell them a good story about how you faced adversity and bounced back, it can mean everything. They don't care how you started, they care about how you finish. Schools won't look at your early years if the first thing they see is a high GPA , high test scores (if necessary) and a well written, personalized letter. Make the rebound your story for life and show everyone how you can bounce back strong! It works beyond high school too!

Christopher recommends the following next steps:

Focus on turning the low GPA into a comeback story.
Do some reflection on why you received a low GPA and make some changes.
Be resilient and realize it is an opportunity to learn about yourself and to make positive changes.
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Dawn’s Answer

This has been said by several other people, but is worth repeating. It depends on the university. A bad freshman year will not automatically mean that you won’t get into the school you want. Also, it depends on what you mean by a bad year - harder classes with lower grades can sometimes look better than easier classes with higher grades (sometime these classes are referred to as “weighted”)

What you do for the next 3 years is more important for most programs. You can improve your grades and show growth and most programs will take this into consideration. College admissions officers see a lot of transcripts, believe me, you are not the only student who has had a rough start to high school. This can definitely make a difference when being reviewed.
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Serena’s Answer

Hi Mike,
Your teachers are speaking the truth here -
A bad freshman year can potentially diminish your chance in getting into your dream university.
Four years of high school may seem like a long journey before getting into university,
But good choice and habits made from the very start of high school can largely determine your life beyond high school.

If you start freshman year with your eyes on the goal - to get into your dream school,
You will make choices that make you closer to the goal,
Rather than choices that will steer you further away from the goal.
From choices as minor as whether or not to pay attention in class, complete homework on time;
To major choices of what extra curricular activities to pursue and how much time you devote to study & play.

Every little choice you make daily accumulates,
Think of it like snowballing - then you understand what a significance difference that each day can make in the long run.
So if your goal is to get into your dream school,
Make wise choices DAILY and you will have yourself to thank in the future.

Good luck!

Regards,
Serena
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Lindsay’s Answer

Hi Mike,

The easy answer is no. It definitely depends on the university you want to go to. If you want to go to an Ivy League, you want your GPA to be the best it can be. If you don't mind going to a university that isn't "top tier", then it really doesn't matter. I think showing growth in your transcript is really important. If you don't do well your freshman year, learn from your mistakes and get better grades the next year! That being said, don't worry too much about high school GPAs. I know people who had lower GPAs and still got into Ivy Leagues because of their extracurriculars. Spend time getting involved in different clubs and activities outside of school (sports, music, community service, etc.) If you can get honors that's great too. Show them you're a well-rounded student, ace your interview, and you're good to go.
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Jordan’s Answer

The number one thing that colleges want to see is improvement over your high school years. While a poor freshman year is not ideal, growth and success over the next few years helps show colleges that you are on an upward trend heading into your time as an undergraduate.
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Savannah’s Answer

Hi! it depends on where you wanna go and how bad you did. If you want to go to a really popular university and you didn't nothing and got really bad grades in freshman year then you might have a real struggle getting in that school. If you have OK grades but got like all A's the rest of your years but you wanna go to a community college they will take you. If you got all C's in your freshman year and the rest are A's and you also do sports, extra curriculars than you might be able it go to your dream collage. If really depends on where you want to go and how bad you did in your freshman year and how well you are doing now. Hopes this helps!
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Lauren’s Answer

Hi Mike,

I think it really depends on the type of university you want to attend, at the end of the day I do think colleges look at more than just your grades. I do think grades are important, but colleges also like to see who you are outside of academics. Do you get involved in the community through volunteering? Are you a leader? Are you involved in extracurricular activities, such as sports, debate team, student council, etc. What really separates you apart from your peers without taking into consideration your academics? That said, I do think colleges love a really good defining moment story, how you were able to overcome hardships, in your case a difficult freshman year and really growing as not only a student but also as a young adult as well.
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Simeon’s Answer

It depends on what your dream schools are. You can look up the grades that they usually accept for their scholarship, but generally you will have a lower chance of getting in if you let your grades plummet. Thankfully, there are college options for nearly everyone, so as long as you graduate high school there will be a path forward. It just might not be with the dream schools that you have in mind. You can email the schools and ask them what kind of student GPA they're looking for on average if you're concerned about getting in.
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Alyssa’s Answer

Hey Mike,
Depending on what major and what university you want to attend can establish if freshman year is so important for you. Although you want the best grades and to join the most extra-ciriculuar activities, something most universities look into, sometimes some students just had a bad year. There is always room for error and as long as you pull up this grades sophomore year and continue to keep good grades and show leadership the rest of high school, you'll do great. I would look also into what possible majors you are considering to also establish what universities you might want to consider to help narrow what those universities are expecting. Hope this helps :)
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Robert’s Answer

Depends on what "bad" is. I would say that t won't destroy your chances but you are just about out of time at this age. By sophomore year you need to start getting your study habits in a better place to succeed.
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Carlos’s Answer

Hey Mike! First, do not be hard on yourself. School can be really tough. With respect to your question, the easy answer is maybe. There are schools that do look for a certain type of student profile and four years of squeaky clean grades fit the bill. That does not mean you do not have a chance. It is vital that you learn from your mistakes and enhance your grades from sophomore year and beyond. You will have a number of opportunities to explain your academic growth your senior year, through your College Essay, Interviews, and Test Scores. It is not always about how you start, but more about how you finished and what was learned along the journey.
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Jeff’s Answer

Lots of great advice on here. I would say as someone who has worked in admissions that there is a big emphasis on demonstrating that you have progressed and improved. Admissions counselors do tend to understand that freshman year is an adjustment period and showing that you have overcome that adjustment in your later years will go far for you.

Also as a reminder, grades are not everything! They are very important but you still can shine through with your college essays, your extracurriculars, and your testing scores. All of which are very important as well.
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CAROLINE’s Answer

This really depends on where you want to go to the school. If you are considering applying to Harvard or Yale, they might look at that bad freshman year, but most schools want to see you grow in your four years of high school. When I was a freshman in high school, I was nervous that if I didn't do well it would affect my college application. But colleges really look at how you did junior and senior year of high school. If you continue to get better and better throughout your high school years, colleges will like that. One reason a bad freshman year could hurt your chances is because it affects the GPA you have, which is a big part of the college process. But the admissions teams do look at your transcript and how you did each year.
College admissions process is also an all around thing. It is not just your GPA, but your extracurriculars, admission's essays, recommendation letters, and (depending on the school) SAT/ACT scores.
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Brayden’s Answer

Hello!
I would say that you should not worry about having a single bad year. High school is supposed to be about learning who you are and what you enjoy in life. Now a college might ask you about it when applying but they really just want you to be truthful about it. Many colleges want to see growth from their students so they traditionally want to give students have might of had hardships a second chance. I would say though that having another bad year could then raise more alarms but let's say for example you turned it around and are now a straight A student then I think that would show your capabilities as a student and to work through difficult times.
In terms of colleges traditionally they look for a couple of things when students apply, they look for GPA, SAT, ACT and application essays. Here they try to paint a picture for the type of student that you are and the type of impact you are going to make at said institution. If these classes are really holding your overall GPA back they may ask you to retake some of the course to help bring up the GPA but that is probably unlikely.

Hope this helps!
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