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Articles / Applying to College / My Grades Are Awful ... Can I Save My College Acceptance?

May 26, 2020

My Grades Are Awful ... Can I Save My College Acceptance?

Question: I am a high school senior and I have been accepted to my first-choice college. However, I've had a series of problems this fall, along with senioritis, and my first-semester grades were all D's. Is there anything that I can do to salvage my acceptance or will it be revoked for sure?

Yikes! You have gotten yourself in some hot water and are correct in assuming that you are in grave danger of losing your place at the college you plan to attend. With a very poor semester like that, you may be beyond damage control, but here's what I suggest you do right away:


-Talk to your guidance counselor to verify that your first-semester grades will be sent to the college you plan to attend. This is most likely the case, but occasionally a college will expect only your final grades, not a mid-year report. If it's the latter, you might be able to pull up your average and save yourself before you get bounced. You don't say what your usual GPA is nor do you name the college you plan to attend. If you are ordinarily an "A" student and have been admitted to a college that is highly selective, then obviously the water is far hotter than if you are usually a "C" student. Also ask your counselor if he or she has dealt with this situation in the past. If so, what approach was taken? What was the outcome? Ask your counselor, too, where you can apply now, despite your disastrous semester.

-Talk to all your teachers and see if there is any work you can do to raise your grades and have them officially changed on your record. This is unlikely, but it's worth a shot and may help with the next suggestion, below ...

-Telephone the admission office at the college you plan to attend and explain the situation to the admission staff member who oversees applicants from you high school. Don't expect a lot of forgiveness for the "senioritis," but do explain the "problems" you mentioned. Some problems (a death in the family, illness, divorce, etc.) are likely to evoke more sympathy than others ("I've had a lot of car trouble"). But, whatever the issue, you may find a sympathetic ear. When you make this call, be pro-active. First, tell the admission officer that you are working with your teachers to raise your grades (if, indeed, this is an option). In addition, prepare some "punishments" that you can live with but which fall short of a rescinded acceptance. For instance, you could promise to earn a certain GPA in the next semester (one that is as least as good--or better--than your cumulative GPA up to 12th grade). You could also propose that you will start college next fall "on probation," with the expectation that you must meet a predetermined GPA in your first term. You might suggest, too, that you will take some college classes over the summer to prove that you are ready to buckle down in the fall.

You do seem to realize that you have messed up, but your willingness to make amends and the attitude you exhibit as you do so might keep you from losing your place at your college. Certainly it's worth fighting for.

Good luck. Let us know how you make out,

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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