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Articles / Applying to College / Will Admission Officials Note Upward Trend in 9th Grade?

Will Admission Officials Note Upward Trend in 9th Grade?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Feb. 9, 2015

Question: Hi. I’m a freshman in high school. I was wondering if colleges look at your freshman year grades? If they do, would they like to see an upward trend? For example, for first marking period, my lowest grade was a B- in Honors Biology. I also had a B, B+, A-, A-, A-, A, and A. For second marking period, my lowest grade was a B+ in Honors Biology. I also had a B+, A-, A-, A-, A-, A-, A+. I have improved in some ways but was wondering if this will hurt my chances for the Ivy Leagues.

Admission officials usually consider freshman grades, but they don’t emphasize them nearly as heavily as they do the later ones. And most high school transcripts that go to colleges include only final grades for each class. Sometimes they also show semester grades and exam marks, but they typically don’t include every marking period. So admission officials are unlikely to see all of the grades that you have shown to “The Dean.” (A good thing, too, because The Dean’s head is already spinning from reading the line-up you’ve sent so far! ) 😉

As the admission-committee members review your four years in high school, they will notice upward trends. So if your freshman year is your weakest year, and you do your best in 11th and 12th grades, this should work in your favor.

However,  the Ivy League institutions are extremely competitive. Students are rarely admitted on the basis of grades and test scores alone. The Ivy admission folks assume that grades, course selection, and test results will be strong. So then they ask, “What else is special?”

Thus, as a freshman, you have time to develop unique interests that will stand out in a hyper-competitive crowd. And you also have time to research other colleges and universities that may great matches for you, even if they’re not Ivies. When it’s time to submit your applications, it’s critical that you have a list of “Reach,” “Realistic,” and “Safe” schools and that you can get excited about all of them.


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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