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How do you get into a good college if you don't have the best grades?

I am a student who gets 90's but I know some colleges want better than that

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Subject: Career question for you

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Chris’s Answer

Hello Hamidah,

There are multiple strategies you can employ to gain admission into a top-tier school:

Informational Gatherings: It's important to remember that while some colleges are highly competitive with lower acceptance rates for freshmen, grades are not the only factor considered during the admissions process. Scoring in the 90s is a commendable achievement. Most schools host informational sessions, either in-person or online, where you can gain insight into the other aspects they consider during admissions. You can enhance your application through your essays by showcasing any leadership roles or work experiences you've had, or perhaps a school project you were recognized for, or any extracurricular activities where you've demonstrated leadership skills.

Community Colleges: Another viable option is to consider community colleges. Some renowned programs, such as those at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Tech, provide scholarships to students who have earned an associate degree from an accredited community college, encouraging them to transfer and complete their bachelor's degree at their institution. This strategy is employed because not all freshmen complete their degrees, and these prestigious programs aim to maintain a certain graduation rate. This route can also significantly reduce your tuition costs! So, it's worth exploring your local community college to see if your preferred universities actively recruit students there and if they accept transfer credits from the associate degree you've earned.

Wishing you all the best,
Chris
Thank you comment icon Also, consider going to another school as a Freshman and transfer in as a sophomore, junior, or senior. Typically, it's easier to get in as a transfer than a Freshman---if extremely competitive. Keep up the 90s and good work! Edie Trueheart
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Sean’s Answer

Hi Hamidah,

I would give a different perspective here. I had worse grades than you did and went to a 'regular' in-state school. Loved my experience there, going to football games, having a relatively relaxed academic atmosphere and generally living the 'college' experience. I always had FOMO on not going to that Tier 1 Ivy League caliber school so, when I was headed to grad school, I did the opposite and went to a private US News Top 20 kind of school. It is a completely different environment; lots of people were there simply because it was the highest ranked school they were accepted and not because they actually wanted to be there. There was no football game or party on Saturday - people were hunkered down trying to outdo each other on grades and internships. Mental health wasn't as strong and burnout was real.

In the professional world, where you go to college (especially for undergrad) means almost nothing. At my tech company - one most people would recognize - my team's alma maters include Nebraska, Arizona State (online), an Australian college, Eastern Washington University, Washington State University, Cal-San Diego and Harvard. We all have the same job title and make fantastic money. The skills and work experience you have, not where your degree came from, will most determine the opportunities you gain as a professional.

You can take some of the great advice above to try and get into the best college but for my experience, finding a college with the best nexus of lifestyle fit/culture, cost and chosen major program quality is better than applying to 25 schools and going to whichever one cooked their admissions/marketing strategy to get the best US News Ranking.

Hope that helps!
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Ryan’s Answer

Hi Hamidah,

When I was in high school, I noticed the students that got into what I considered good schools did a lot of extracurricular activities.

Student government, sports, and volunteering are ones that I think are notable.
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Varun’s Answer

Hi Hamidah, concentrate on your strengths beyond academic performance. Do you excel in extracurricular activities? Are you talented in arts, sports, or vocational skills?

By identifying and leveraging your strengths, you can find a college, trade school, or any post-high school path that suits your abilities best.

In addition, if you've already chosen a major, consider looking for the top local institutions that offer it. Local schools might have a less rigorous admissions process, making it easier for you to get in. And since your chosen major from that school is highly regarded by third party rankings, graduating with that degree from such a school could impress future employers.

Remember, the goal isn't just to get into a specific school but to thrive once you're there!

Varun recommends the following next steps:

Read this book: https://www.amazon.com/How-Win-College-Surprising-Countrys/dp/0767917871
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Sanjay’s Answer

Hi Hamidah,
Thanks for the question. If i recall my college days i had similar questions in my mind.

Basis my past learning's, i am sharing with you couple of advices. Hope this would be helpful:

1. Firstly, i would suggest you ensure you do your best in your exams without having too much burden on the outcome. This is important as sometimes when we think too much of the outcomes, we end up not being our best
2. Zero down on Top Tier 1 and 2 colleges you would like to apply depending upon your grades. In some cases, top colleges look at metrics which could be different from academics.
3. Lastly, always remember life if too long and getting admission to the top college is one part of it. Even in case you don't get in the top college, i am sure you have all the right skill-sets and attitude to succeed in your life
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Maeve’s Answer, CareerVillage.org Team

Hi Hamidah,

I would like to reiterate what other volunteers have said: 90% is a very strong grade! I know college admissions are not focused on perfectionism. They like to look at the whole picture. They, of course, check if you have good grades, but they are also concerned with whether you are involved in your school and local community. Colleges want to see you take the initiative to get involved in extracurriculars because that shows how you will contribute to their campus life if they admit you.

There is some great advice on this thread around ways to pursue your interests outside of academics, and one thing I would like to add is to think about an environment where you can be a leader. Is there a club or activity that you really love? Is there an opportunity in that group to take on a leadership role? I know this can be hard sometimes because leadership roles often require being elected or nominated (for example, being elected team captain or class president etc. ). However, there are always opportunities to advocate for yourself and create a leadership role-- ask if a teacher or coach needs help with equipment, snacks, schedule, agenda, communications, etc. for any group or club. If they say yes, then create a leadership role for yourself! Even better, you can create a club or community action project that you are passionate about.

These are just some ideas, but my main point is to seek out opportunities to show you are a leader!
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Rebecca’s Answer

Thank you for your question. I am glad to hear that you hand plan to enter good colleges and have good grades.
Below are my suggestions:
1. Explore the entry criteria of the colleges which are good are your major.
2. Attend the information session hosts by the college. Speak to the professor's and alumni to find out more
3. Work hard on those subjects and criteria the colleges are looking for
4. You may divide the colleges you like into different buckets, eg high entry criteria, middle entry criteria, etc
5. Explore any intern and volunteer opportunities to add more color to your profile
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
Thank you comment icon Don't forget, if you don't get in the school of your choice the first year, you can always try to transfer another year. Keep up the awesome work! Edie Trueheart
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Mahi’s Answer

The 90s are good grades. Having extracurriculars, work experience, good letters of recommendation, and sports under your belt also help out. A good ACT or SAT is also beneficial.
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Rian’s Answer

Hi Hamidah!
Your grades already sound fantastic! A 90 is super good. When colleges look at your application, they tend to take a more holistic approach. While they do care about your grades, they will also look at other factors such as SAT scores, extracurriculars, sports involvement, clubs, leadership, and more. If you want to improve your chance at college admissions, I'd recommend participating in some extracurriculars that are interesting and exciting to you. By doing so, it will show colleges more of your personality and show how you are a more well-rounded individual.
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