How to Get Into College With a Low GPA

How to get Into College with a Low GPA

There are many factors that are looked at by admissions when it comes to college applications. The main things that colleges are going to be looking for are your GPA, your ACT or SAT scores and your involvement in extracurricular activities. All three are almost equally important to admissions. How to get into college with a low GPA is a good question.

Low Scores

In high school, students do make mistakes and sometimes they have a lower GPA, ACT scores, or less involvement than they were planning on having. Both GPA and ACT are important but there are ways that you can get into college if both are low.

The best thing that you can do for yourself if you have a lower GPA is to have the other two factors look good on your application.

The first factor if you have a low GPA you need a high ACT or SAT score.

The second factor is to make your application look good you need to be involved within your community and High School.

All this can definitely help you get into colleges that you are interested in and achieve the career path of your choice.

One of the first things that you can do is start researching the college’s and university’s admission guidelines. You need to see what the colleges average GPA and ACT scores are for admissions.

You may even be able to figure what placement and percentage of most students going to this university. This type of information is going to help you figure out what exactly they’re looking for and how you can get over the hump of having a below-average GPA.

Believe it or not, I actually have several friends going to nice universities who had lower GPAs in high school. There are ways to get over it as long as you are determined, and you try hard in other aspects of your application.

Improve Your GPA

Obviously, the first thing that you can do is improve your GPA as much as you possibly can. Even if you’re almost halfway done with your senior year, you still have an entire semester to improve your GPA as much as you can.

This means that you basically cannot take it easy in your senior year.

You want your ending GPA to be as high as you possible. You also want your GPA after December of your senior year to look great because that’s what most colleges are going to see. If you’re reading this at the beginning of your senior year in high school, make sure that you are putting in the effort.

You might consider getting tutors, talking to your teachers, and doing whatever else you possibly can to get the highest GPA. You’re not going to fix your GPA overnight or obviously be able to change it dramatically within that short amount of time. What you will do is show colleges as they are looking at your transcripts that you didn’t give up and that you were determined to get the grades that you needed.

Get Involved

The best thing that you can do for yourself if you have a low GPA or low test scores is to get involved in extracurricular activities. Colleges love to see students who are super involved because it basically means that they’ll be super involved at the university once they start attending.

You don’t have to necessarily be the class president or in charge of some club, just to show that you’re putting in some effort. Whether that means being involved in sports teams, the drama clubs, or in any sort of academic clubs in your high school. Show that you’re interested in being involved in your school and community.

Another thing that admissions like to see is that you are involved in community service. You should want to be involved in community service. This work shows that you are a giving member of the community and that you would do the same at their college.

At Christmas time pick up the Salvation Army bell to ring at some stores, go Christmas caroling, or make blankets to donate to surrounding hospitals. Put your time into your community to show that your low GPA does not mean that you are not an upstanding citizen and student.

Consider Community College

If you have done your research and apply to all universities and not had any luck getting into your top schools. One thing that you consider is going to community college.

It is really smart to go to community college for a semester, a year or more and then transfer to a 4-year school. You will not only be saving money, but you will also be able to take the time to get your college GPA up in order to transfer to your dream college. It is actually a lot easier to transfer colleges and people think.

Requirements for transfer students are a lot lower than incoming high school students. Many students transfer nowadays which is common. You should have no problem making new friends and settling into community college.

You also can just decide to go to a community college in general. You honestly don’t even need to transfer. Community colleges are great ways to save money, stay at home, and get yourself a degree to be successful. You can be just as successful with a degree from a community college as you would from a 4-year college.

Take the time to think about what you are looking for out of your own education and see what works best for you. Staying at a community college is a great idea and can work out well.

Trade School

If none of these other ideas sound appealing to you, you can also look into different trade schools. You can get a certification to do skilled jobs and be extremely successful. This is the path that you would like to go down if you’re interested in cosmetology, being an electrician, construction, dental hygienist, etc.

Trade school is definitely a great option and you are also always capable of going back to college to get a BA after going to trade school.

ACT and SAT Scores

The number one thing that I encourage you to do if you have a low GPA is to focus very hard on your ACT or SAT scores. Colleges actually look at these scores over GPA. If you have a very high ACT score you should have a better chance of getting in no matter what your GPA is.

The first steps to doing well on these tests are to study months in advance. I would also encourage you to get a tutor if you have the time or money to be able to do so.

It is also another good idea to take these tests multiple times. I took the ACT 4 times before I got the score that I wanted. So basically, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a great score the first time. Take it as many times as you need and make sure to focus on getting a great ACT score if you know you have a low GPA.

Check out our guides for each high school grade to see when and what to do.

Get Help

Don’t be afraid to get help. College applications you need to make sure you are turning in a masterpiece. It is a great idea to meet with your school counselor, principal, or close teachers to ask them for help on this topic.

You could also meet with current college students to ask them for tips on how they study at school. All that asking for help can do is further your knowledge and make you a better person. There is no harm in asking for help.

Places to go for help include:

Go to a Branch Campus of a Major University

Something that is very popular within big universities is branch campuses. Normally, if you go to a branch campus of a big university as long as you pass a certain number of credit hours and keep a certain college GPA, you are automatically able to transfer to that main University after one year of enrollment.

This is such a great opportunity and such a great transition to the main university. This way you also know that every class will transfer. I have had so many friends do this that now go to school with me and are so glad they made this decision.

Recommendation Letters from Prominent People

Another thing that you can focus on is recommendation letters. If you do have to have recommendation letters for your college applications, I would definitely encourage you to find some very prestigious people. You can have those people that are writing the letters cover the fact that they know your GPA is low and they are still supporting you.

Take Responsibility In your Essays to Universities

If you have to write an essay for any of your applications, make sure to take responsibility for your low GPA. The best thing that you can do is admit to the fact that you could’ve gotten a better GPA and that you look forward to advancing your studies by studying harder in the future.

If you admit to it and take responsibility for it will be less of a big deal than if they just noticed that your GPA is lower than they are anticipating it to be.


Overall, there are so many options for getting into school with a lower GPA. Don’t feel discouraged just work hard and take the college opportunity that comes to you.

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