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Articles / Applying to College / Should Son With Low GPA Leave Rigorous High School?

June 8, 2012

Should Son With Low GPA Leave Rigorous High School?

Question: My son currently attends a very pricey and academically rigorous private school. He will be a junior in the fall and for the last two years his grade point average has not been higher than a 2.0. I have been very tempted to move him to another school that is less challenging. The problem is he does not want to leave, and my husband feels that, although his grade point average is very low, college admissions boards will take into consideration the fact that he came from an challenging college preparatory high school when they assess his eligibility. I would greatly appreciate your non-bias opinion.

As long as your son wants to stay at his current school and the cost of it isn’t putting ramen noodles on your dinner table every night, I see no compelling reason to move him.


If the situation were different … i.e., if your son felt miserable at school … that would be a whole other story. But it sounds as if he’s made peace with his situation.

Colleges do evaluate students in the context of their school environment. If your son were to transfer to a less rigorous high school and then earned better grades, the admission folks would note that his improvement was due to the move. So it seems unlikely that a transfer would have much impact (or even ANY impact) on his college outcomes.

The only problem you might face down the road is that some public colleges (or programs within a college) may have a minimum GPA for entrance. Your son might achieve that GPA at an easier high school but probably won't at his current one. But I'd guess that the odds are small that he will encounter this particular barrier.

It seems that your son has already figured out what a lot of students (and, especially parents) can’t: Not every kid will be an A (or even a B) student. Thus, if your son is happy and engaged where he is, I vote to keep him there.

(posted 6/7/2012)

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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