Can You Get into a Good College with a Low GPA?

Getting a low GPA will definitely dishearten you and may lead you to believe that you may not be able to get into your dream college or into one of the top universities in the country. If you think that a low GPA can be a deal breaker, it probably can; but, the good news is that there are ways for you to balance out a low academic standing in high school and still get a fair shot in getting into college.

Now, you’re smiling. And you’re probably asking how. Here are some ways on how you can still get into a good college with a low GPA. Your job is to convince the admissions office that other components of your application are more reflective of your academic potential than your grades.

  • Aim for high standardized test scores. I’m talking about SAT, SAT IIs, ACTs, and even APs. You can get high scores by taking plenty of time to study and prepare for these tests. The good thing about the SAT IIs is that you can choose the subjects in which you are most confident of your abilities. Then, do your best to ace them!
  • Showcase outstanding extracurricular leadership and success. Remember that admissions officers look for well-rounded students who excel not only in the classroom, but also perform well in the real world, as well. Take advantage of the activities that you do outside campus and make sure to highlight interesting hobbies and undertakings that you do, such as community service, volunteering, participating in clubs and organizations, and athletics. If you have an interesting hobby, try to always think about how to take it to the next level by gaining some kind of meaningful credential that reflects your passion and ability.
  • Get strong recommendations from your teachers or mentors. Admissions officers also give significant weight to letters of recommendation because this is how they get to know students from a human perspective. If they learn how good of a leader you are or how passionate you are about the things that you believe in – in spite of your mediocre academic performance – they can give you a fair consideration.
  • Craft a compelling personal statement and masterful supplements. Your application, especially the personal statement, gives you the opportunity to showcase yourself and your talents in your own words and largely on your own terms. This is where you can explain why you want to attend a particular college and why should they accept you. Include the qualities that you have and how these qualities can help you contribute to the school’s community. Be interesting. Be remarkable. Make your evaluation jump off the page, and the admissions reader might be more willing to overlook your low GPA.

Although you are facing an uphill battle, there are a lot of ways that can help you demonstrate your worthiness for a particular school even if you have a low GPA. So, do not let your grades upset you. There is usually nothing you can do to substantially change them at this point, so move forward with confidence and make up for lost time.  Let it be a challenge for you to think of ways to set yourself apart and make the college you love, love you back.


About the Author

David Mainiero, Co-Founder and Director of Operations of InGenius Prep, is an experienced educator and academic and admissions counselor with over almost a decade of experience helping students unlock their potential and achieve their dreams. Having founded and run multiple and small businesses, David has a strong entrepreneurial track record.

He graduated from Dartmouth College Summa Cum Laude with Highest Honors in History with a focus on Nationalism in the Near East and was inducted as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Several years later, he earned a JD from Harvard Law School. To this day, he believes that the most important moments in his own education were learning with his peers during his time as a Policy Debater in high school and college.

David knows firsthand what success looks like and how to achieve it; his passion to help students discover their own passions and realize their fullest potential motivates him to travel all around the world to share his visions for educational access.