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Articles / Applying to College / A-Level Schools for B-Level Students

A-Level Schools for B-Level Students

Dave Berry
Written by Dave Berry | July 22, 2013

Let’s face it; we’re not all valedictorians or 4.0 students. In fact, those of us that hover around a B average are in the majority. Better still, we B students should take heart. According to Village Ventures’ Bo Peabody, writing in Business Insider, “Successful Entrepreneurs Are ‘B’ Students, Not ‘A’ Students.” He goes on to qualify this bold statement with, “B-students don’t know everything about anything and are excellent at nothing. B-students do, however, know something about a lot of things, and they can complete almost any task with some modicum of competence. People often ask me: ‘As an entrepreneur, what exactly do you do?’ My answer: ‘I do nothing. But I do it very well.’ Entrepreneurs are B-students. There is no one thing they do well. But there are many things they do well enough.”

This should hearten all you B’ers out there. I know it has made me feel better about my B- college GPA. If you’re a high school junior carrying a B (plus or minus) average and you’re hoping to get into an A-level college, well, maybe what you’ll read here today may be of some help. Plus, if you really want to be fired up about your B status, you may want to consider this insight from the Elite Daily (“The Voice of Generation-Y”): “That is to say, the average A student is well prepared to engage in academic discourse, but it is not guaranteed that he will be adequately prepared for challenges outside the classroom. If you glance at the state of our economy, it is evident that theory does not always translate into reality.”


So, what’s your point, Dave? My point, dear readers, is that if you are a B-level student, you can still get into an A-level college. There are books about doing this, you know. The latest book, due to hit the shelves tomorrow (July 23, 2013), is Joie Jager-Hyman’s lengthy-titled B+ Grades, A+ College Application: How to Present Your Strongest Self, Write a Standout Admissions Essay, and Get Into the Perfect School for You. Even though the title targets those of you with B+ grades, I’m willing to bet that all of us with B or B-  (and even C!) grades can improve our admission chances by absorbing its wisdom. Why is that?

For starters, let’s see what the publisher has to say about it, even though we have to keep in mind that publishers tend to be somewhat prejudiced.

Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to have a perfect GPA or a perfect jump shot to get into a good college. A must-read for “average” high school students (and their parents), this book is an insider’s look at how students with sub-4.0 GPAs can get the most out of the college application process, make their applications stand out from the rest, and pay for school without taking on enormous debt.

With skill-building exercises to help students identify their unique priorities, this manual focuses on the whole student, not just grades and SAT scores. Featuring special tips for B (and C) students to make a memorable impression on admissions officers, painlessly beef up their applications, write great essays, and even get into brand-name schools through the side door, this guide contains everything real students need to get into their perfect college.

Those are hopeful statements (take note that, indeed, “C” students are included, too). As someone who specializes in helping applicants develop their essays, I might wonder about “tips” being enough to “write great essays.” Nevertheless, there seems to be a lot of promise between these covers.

College Confidential‘s own Ask the Dean columnist, Sally Rubenstone agrees:

So much admissions advice seems intended for high achievers aiming for hyperselective schools. B+ Grades, A+ College Application is a refreshing change. It offers wise counsel to the solid student looking for a good college fit as well as tips on how to maximize acceptance odds. While any student can benefit from the suggestions in this book, those with some Bs (or below) should be delighted to find that they are, for once, the target audience.

So, if you’re having ego issues about your less-than-summa-level grade performance, you may want to give Ms. Jager-Hyman’s new book a careful read. Here’s a tip of my own: For a sample of what you’ll find inside her book, when you find it at Amazon, click the “Look Inside!” link and peruse a fair selection of its pages. I think you’ll find them interesting.


Just to circle back to “there’s hope for the B and C students” issue, I’d like to end with an inspiring quote from Marcus Sheridan writing in The Sales Lion (“Empowering People Through the Power of Community”) about 7 Reasons Why “C” Students Crush “A” Students When It Comes to Online Marketing. This is the 4th “Reason”:

C-Students don’t hold their finger in the air to check what direction the wind is blowing: That’s right, they don’t, mainly because they don’t care. If they have a gut feeling, they often go with it, and watch the results later.

So, what should this mean to you, you C (and B-/B/B+) students? To me (a former B- student), this means that intuition can sometimes be more powerful and effective than, first, being careful to check out everypossible angle. I don’t think it means to be careless, though. This is the mark of the entrepreneur, someone who senses that something is good and right and then go with it. I’ve done that in my life and had success, leaving my B- GPA in the rear-view mirror.

Bottom line here: There’s a future out there waiting for all you less-than-perfect-grades students. Don’t despair not having a spot on the speaker’s list at graduation. Be sensitive to your instincts and don’t be afraid to act on them when the time and circumstances are right. Oh, and if you’re a B/C-grade junior, maybe the time is right for you to read B+ Grades, A+ College Application.


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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