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Articles / Applying to College / Early Decision/Action for Student with Rising Record?

July 7, 2010

Early Decision/Action for Student with Rising Record?

Question: Should I apply for early action/decision when my previous grades were not that good? I currently have a 2.7 and recently pushed it up to a 2.85. I plan on increasing it even more in my senior year. I went from B-, Cs, and rarely Ds (1 D in freshman semester and another D in a sophomore semester) to C+, B's, and A-. Should I still apply early action/decision or should I hold off from that and let my grade go up the most? I'm worried that if I apply early, colleges won't see my highest GPA.

You would be wise to wait until you have a full semester of senior grades before applying Early Action or Early Decision. As you've noted yourself, it's best if colleges see as much of your upward trend as possible.


However, here are a couple of exceptions:

--If you are applying to any Safety school that offers non-binding Early Action, and your current GPA and SAT's will make you a sure-thing, then it's okay to go for EA there.

--If you will have your first semester grades by mid-January, and you expect them to be strong, you might consider a college with an Early Decision II option. (These deadlines are usually January 1, with mid-February notification.) Although you won't have your newest grades by the deadline, they will be posted in time for admission committees to use them in the ED II round. This way, you'd have the best of both worlds ... the opportunity to send a message to admission officials that says, "This is my first-choice college" but also the chance to submit your best possible grades.

Of course, even if you do wait until the Regular round to submit all your applications, you can still write to your favorite college to explain that this school is indeed your first choice but that you didn't apply early in order to prove that your academic record is still on the rise.

Good luck to you, whatever you decide.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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