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Applying for College as a ‘B’ Student: How to Up Your Chances of Getting In.

Getting accepted to college is a goal for many high school seniors, but it can seem challenging if you’re not a straight-A student. But don't worry! There are ways to compensate for your lower grades and still have a chance of being accepted great colleges and programs. In this piece, you’ll gain insights on how to improve your chances of getting into a desired school as a ‘B’ or 3.0 student.

There's a College for Everyone

The thought of applying to college and not getting in is a scary one. After all, this may be the first rejection you’ve had.

Because there are so many colleges out there, it's possible that you can find the college for you even if your grades aren't a 4.0. You can apply to schools in which your grades and transcript are in their 50% band or reach out to schools that have a more holistic admissions process. There are almost 4,000 colleges and universities to consider and there is definitely one for you.

More importantly, you want to provide detailed context about your academic history and how you would be a valuable part of their campus – both in the classroom and in the community.

How to Utilize Letters of Recommendation

One way to improve your chances of getting into a college as a B student is to utilize letters of recommendation. Colleges focus heavily on grades because they are a concrete metric for your academic performance. However, letters of recommendation can help you demonstrate that you have other skills that may not show up on the typical transcript. For example, if you're applying for an engineering program and you have a letter from your math teacher highlighting how you work collaboratively with your peers to problem-solve, it would be beneficial to include it.

Letters of recommendation can go a long way in boosting your application to a school as well as giving colleges more insight into who you are as a person and what strengths you possess outside of academics. It also provides additional information for why you may have hit a rough patch in some of your academics – maybe you moved, you were going through some personal challenges at home, it was your first time taking more rigorous classes, etc. Be sure to help your recommenders advocate for you by providing the information you would like them to address in your letter of recommendation.

How to Maximize Personal Statements and Activities

One way to compensate for your ‘B’ grades is by writing a strong personal statement. In your personal statement, you want to focus on creating a compelling story that helps you come across as likable, relatable, and memorable.

Whether it’s highlighting an accomplishment or quality that sets you apart from other applicants or helping us understand your tenacity in overcoming a significant challenge in your life, use this space to really tell your story.

I once had a student really struggle with her grades, but she had outstanding activities such as being featured on the Dr. Oz show for a cooking blog she had developed or another student who interned at a law office to learn more about the field that most interested her.

Use Additional Info to Overcome the Transcript

Most college applications include additional space to write about additional information that you believe admissions should take into account when reviewing your application. Like your letter of recommendation, this is an opportunity to provide context into why your grades may not have been as strong, what you’ve learned from the experience, and why you think you’ll be successful in college. While this section is optional, you definitely want to take advantage of this if your grades are not as competitive as you’d like them to be.

Connect with Your Colleges

The best way to apply for college with lower grades is to show colleges that you're an asset to the community. After all, college is more than just a place to learn, it’s a living, breathing community of passionate individuals.

You can demonstrate this through detailed responses to supplemental essay questions that focus on “Why do you want to attend our college?” or through showing the college you are interested in them by signing up for their events.

Another way you can connect is by contacting your admissions representative. It’s usually available on their website and its usually organized by region. From taking advantage of interviews to writing them an email that highlights how you’d be an asset to their community and how much you’d love to attend, you can get admissions excited to read and review your application.

Now, while these strategies may not work at all universities, including the Ivies, it can greatly improve your chance of being accepted at many universities in which your grades are slightly below average. Good luck!


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