3 Things to Do If Your Student Has a Low GPA (Hint: Not Overworking To Raise It)

By Maxine Seya

GPAs are like tattoos: irreversible. Everlasting. Possibly embarrassing, but sadly, unerasable.

You might try every last effort to sign your child up for a summer class to boost their GPA or stuffing them in an air-conditioned classroom for 8 weeks this summer getting tutoring on all the school subjects they slept through, in hopes of boosting their Fall semester grades.

But the numbers tell us it’s probably too late.

Tutoring, summer school, or 90 math problems to finish every morning won’t change much.

How many points does an A raise your GPA?

By the time your child is a rising senior, if they have a 2.7 GPA from an average of 5 classes per semester, even getting straight As in Fall semester of senior year would only bump their GPA up to a 2.9. Hardly enough for consideration at most selective colleges, especially the ones with a hard 3.0 cutoff like the UC’s.

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And getting straight As in the same semester as college applications deadlines will be an uphill battle if your child struggled to earn high grades when classes were easier and no college deadlines loomed.

So if your child has a low GPA, instead of worrying about it and overworking to raise it, here are three things to do that’ll actually make a difference for college.

One self-reflection activity a week to complete.

When college applicants get stuck with college essays, it’s often because they haven’t had time to be introspective. They don’t know themselves well. They struggle to put their experiences, opinions, and feelings in words. But when compelling college essays often tip the scale in an applicant’s favor, focusing on the steppingstones to a winning essay will make a bigger difference than a 0.1 GPA bump. Get those self-reflection activities in, especially before writing first drafts.

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Many of these free activities can be found online, such as the Values Exercise or the 21 Details Exercise that I’ve used with my students.

Identify the course requirements to graduate from their dream major

Too many college applicants love the idea of a major, but not the reality of it. They get to college as, say, an English major. Then, when they register for classes, they realize that studying

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.