What Grades Matter For College?

Transitioning from Junior High to High School 

The transition from junior high school or middle school into freshman year of high school is a considerably large step, and it can sometimes be quite a rough one. At that age, new high school freshmen in their early teenage years are likely still struggling to find their identities and under pressure to make a name for themselves at their new school.

Add in harder classes, more homework, intimidating upper class-men, and trying to find the perfect group of friends into the mix and it seems like freshman year is just a trap, or a disaster waiting to happen. With all of that being said, what grades matter for college?

If you happened to flub your first year of high school and not do so well in your classes, know that it is not relatively uncommon and that people generally use the “difficult transition” as an excuse for tanking their freshman year grades. People are usually forgiving of students who failed to do well in that time period. But this justification really only works if you improved upon your schoolwork after moving on from your first year.

To elaborate on the leniency that people tend to put over the first year of high school, there is a rumor that colleges do not look at your freshman year grades, and that you only have to report your grades starting from sophomore year and up on your college applications.

Understanding the College Application Process

So what grades matter for college? Is this rumor true, or is it just a misguided myth? The truth is, it really depends on the specific college or colleges that you are applying to. Colleges and universities base their acceptance decisions upon a number of different criteria. Some colleges will force you to fill in your classes and the grades you got in those classes for all four years of high school, while some will only require you to fill in grades for the last three or two years of high school.

You can figure out what grades matter for college by determining whether the schools you are applying to count freshman year into the admissions process or not by doing some simple Google search. If you really cannot find any information about a particular school’s stance on freshman year of high school,  do not worry about it too much and simply follow the instructions on the application carefully when it’s time to apply to college. After all, there isn’t anything you can do anymore to change your grades or classes from freshman year. That’s all in the past. Just move on and work hard to increase your grade point average and become a better and overall, more productive student.

Regardless of what grades matter for college and whether or not your dream college takes your freshman year of high school into consideration, I would still recommend trying your best to get good grades during your first year. While those grades might not be looked at individually, they still factor into your cumulative high school grade point average. Doing well during your freshman year can boost your GPA, and consequently, doing poorly will hurt it. Grade point average is something that all colleges will look at. So you definitely do not want to mess your GPA up.

Understanding the University of California Application Process

From my experience in regards to what grades matter for college, freshman year was definitely worth my time. I did the best academically during my first year out of all four years of high school. I do not know if it was because my classes for freshman year were the easiest out of the four years of high school, or if I worked harder when I was a naive fourteen year old, but my GPA peaked when I first went in, and was never as high again after that. So I was particularly grateful to have my freshman year GPA pull my cumulative GPA up a little higher for my college applications.

I currently attend college at UC Davis, and the University of California system has a common application that applies to all nine undergraduate campuses. The University of California application is a little different because in addition to your regular cumulative GPA, it also has a weighted UC GPA that takes honors and advanced placement (AP) classes into account when calculating total grade point average. This UC GPA with weighted classes is extremely nice, especially when it comes to giving adding additional points to harder and higher-level courses, because some high schools, like mine, do not award grades received in harder classes.

The only catch is that this weighted University of California GPA does not include the classes you took and the grades you received in your freshman year of high school. This was slightly disappointing for me since I did well all throughout my first year, but my weighted cumulative UC GPA still turned out higher than my regular cumulative GPA, so all was well and I was still more than satisfied.

So just keep in mind that the colleges or university system you apply to may vary on their application requirements depending on different factors. Overall, I would not write off freshman year entirely because you will most likely have to at least state what classes you took during that year and enter the grades you received in them. Even when universities claim to not count freshman year, they will usually still ask you to fill in your freshman year grades on the application. They might still ask to see those first year grades, and those grades will still go towards your total high school GPA.

If you did, in fact, do poorly during your freshman year, the key thing to remember is that college admissions boards are also looking for growth and improvement. Make sure you try harder during your sophomore to senior years of high school and show the college admissions people that you got your act together and are worthy of attending their school!

Related Posts

The following two tabs change content below.
Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang will be entering her junior year at the University of California, Davis in the fall, where she is pursuing a double major in Economics and Communication. Outside of class, she loves to see her friends and family, jam out to T-Swift, make smoothies, and curl up and unwind with a relaxing book. Other interests of hers include ballet and gymnastics, skiing, travel, volunteer work, chick-flick movies, animals, and Christmas.
Ashley Yang

Latest posts by Ashley Yang (see all)