College admissions officers look at a variety of criteria when evaluating your college application: your SAT or ACT score, your high school GPA, and your extracurricular activities. They also take a look at your high school transcript. But how important are your high school grades, in particular your junior year grades, for college admissions?
What Colleges Look for in Your High School Grades
Alongside an SAT or ACT score, high school grades weigh heavily in college admissions decisions. High school grades give college admissions officers a peek at your ambitions, study habits, and interests. Studies show that high school performance is one of the best measures of college-level performance. So when admissions officers look at your high school transcript, they want to see either consistent good grades or an upward trend to your grades each year.
Consistent Good Grades
Consistent good grades (A’s and B’s) convey, generally, that a student studies for class, cares about their education, and is motivated to succeed. Admissions officers assume these qualities will carry over into the student’s college career and that they will succeed in college.
Upward Trending Grades
An upward trend, meaning grades that rise over the course of high school, conveys that a student is growing in their study habits, is working hard to improve, and is taking their education seriously. For example, a student who got B’s and C’s their freshman and sophomore years but gets A’s and B’s their junior and senior years is showing an upward grade trend.
If you do get a C your junior or senior year, don’t freak out! If the rest of your grades are A’s and B’s, then a C or two won’t turn admissions officers away. Remember, it’s the cumulative picture of your grades that counts.
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How Important are Junior Year Grades?
The grades you make during your junior year, in particular during the second semester, are very important because these are the last grades schools really see. Your junior year grades are your last chance to either show off your good grades or prove upward trending grades.
Some schools will ask for Quarter 1 or Semester 1 senior year grades, but depending on when you apply to schools your senior year, it may be too early to have any senior year grades. Your junior year grades are the last grades that make up your “official” GPA that you will be using to apply to college.
Even though junior year is probably your most challenging academically, don’t lose heart as you near the finish line. Stay motivated to maintain or improve your grades by reminding yourself that college is the goal! There is a point to all your hard work.
Stay motivated to maintain or improve your grades by reminding yourself that college is the goal! There is a point to all your hard work.
Tips for Picking Senior Year Classes
As junior year comes to an end, you’ll register for senior classes. It is important that you show rigor and interest via the classes you select.
Take Dual Enrollment or AP Classes
Consider taking dual enrollment classes or AP classes to challenge yourself and show universities you are getting ready for the rigor of college. If you plan on staying in state for university, dual enrollment may be a good option for you (sometimes these sorts of classes are not accepted for credit in other states). Dual enrollments may have a final exam, but usually if you achieve a grade minimum (different for different schools) then you receive credit. If AP classes are available, they are accepted both within and out of your state, but your college credit depends on your success on the test at the end of the year.
These last class selections are a way to show the schools to which you are applying what kinds of classes you might select in college. Senior year is when you have the broadest selection and have met most of your requirements. And if you attend a small school with fewer classes than other schools, don’t stress. The colleges that you apply to will know not only what you decided to take but also what was available. So don’t stress if you can’t take an AP class because your school doesn’t offer it.
Pick Interesting-to-You Electives
Finally, choose electives that reflect your interests. Colleges want to know what you, uniquely, are interested in, so don’t pick electives based on what you think colleges would like…just pick what you like!
How Important are Junior Year Grades?
Again, alongside an SAT or ACT score, high school grades are an important factor in college admissions decisions. When admissions officers look at your high school transcript, they want to see either consistent good grades or an upward trend to your grades each year. Your junior year grades are the last grades schools really see, so stay motivated and make them count. You got this!