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Freshman Year Grades DO Matter

As the school year begins again, let’s address a common question: “Do freshman year grades really matter to colleges?”

Absolutely! There’s a common myth that high school freshman-year grades don’t matter to colleges. This rumor often stems from the fact that freshman year grades are not included in the GPA calculation for admission to the UC and CSU systems.

Admission to UC is technically based on the 10th- and 11th- grade GPA, test scores and 12 other factors in what the UC system calls its “comprehensive review” process.

CSU reviews applicants placing the most weight on 10th- and 11th- grade test scores and grades.

But here’s the catch: Another significant factor in the admissions process is the rigor of a student’s high school curriculum.

Low grades in the freshman year will affect your ability to take higher-level (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, honors) classes in the subsequent high school years.

In other words, a “C” in English in the freshman year makes it difficult for a student to get recommended for honors English in the sophomore year.

No honors English sophomore year makes it even harder to get into AP English in the junior year, and you know what that means for senior year. Not advancing into higher-level classes will make it virtually impossible to be admitted to a more competitive UC institution.

So, as you can see, freshman-year grades do matter.

The other important point is that freshman-year grades are included in the GPA calculations for most out-of-state public universities (e.g., U. Of Arizona, U. Of Colorado at Boulder, U. Of Washington) and private institutions.

Low freshman year grades can really bring down a student’s GPA and cause an uphill battle the remainder of high school as he or she works hard to bring up that GPA.

What if a student blows freshman year and earns a low GPA?

Is his college future over? Absolutely NOT.

Colleges also like to see that students who didn’t do so well academically in their freshman year show improvement and what they call an “upward grade trend” in their sophomore through senior years.

Even students who have struggled into their sophomore year can prove their academic prowess to colleges in their junior year.

The moral of the story for students with less-than-stellar grades is to start the school year with the right attitude about studying, time management and improving their grade trend. By doing so, there are many colleges and universities that will gladly give your application a strong review.

I work with students who have a wide range of GPAs, from 2.5 to a weighted 4.7, and they all have many fine options come senior year.

But the stronger your freshman year grades, the more options you will have.

So don’t allow those doors to close so early.


The Fall Session of The Admissions Formula starts October 1st! Get on the waitlist today.

Want to work with Lisa 1:1? Book a call to see what fits!

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