Being accepted to the college or university of your choice is one of the most stressful and fulfilling opportunities that many students will experience in their lives. Getting into your college of choice becomes more difficult if you have a low GPA. Since many colleges have a very competitive admissions process, students with higher GPAs have an increased chance of being accepted. However, those students with lower GPAs can also sharpen their applications to make themselves more competitive when applying to college.
Take advantage of extracurricular activities. College and universities look for well-rounded students, not just students with high GPAs. If you are involved in school activities such as sports, band or student government, or activities outside of school such as religious, charitable or other community activities, make sure to mention this on your application. If you have received recognition or awards for your work, obtained a position within the organization or accomplished anything on the organization's behalf, make sure to mention that on your college application.
Study hard for your ACT or SAT exam. Scoring well on this standardized test will provide evidence of what you have learned and retained thus far to college-admissions representatives. It is important to practice and study for these exams to increase your chances of scoring high. There are study guides for both exams available at the bookstore, as well as at the public and school library. You may also consider taking both exams, since many students will often score higher on one exam than the other.
Get higher marks in your last semesters of high school. Some colleges may forgive students who had a slow start toward a higher GPA. If your transcripts shows a sudden change from average or failing grades to As and Bs, an admissions representative may think more highly of your application.
Enroll in Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes during your last semesters. Honors and AP coursework is more advanced and closely equivalent to college classes. Colleges think highly of those who complete this kind of coursework. Scoring well on the AP exams will also give you college credit for completing that class at many colleges and universities.
Take classes at your local community college. Completing and obtaining good marks in a college class will provide evidence of your readiness for college. A good time to take advantage of college classes is during your summer break. You can also take many college classes online.
Explain your low grades. Use your college admissions essay as an opportunity to explain why you received low grades. If you were going through a difficult family situation explain it--but be sure to include how you overcame that situation and that it will not affect your coursework in the future. If you suffer from a learning disability, make sure to explain how it has affected you.
Si Kingston has been an online content contributor since 2004, with work appearing on websites such as MadeMan. She is a professional screenwriter and young-adult novelist and was awarded the Marion-Hood Boesworth Award for Young Fiction in 2008. Kingston holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.