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Articles / Applying to College / Will GPA Drop After Transfer to Prep School Hurt Admission Odds?

Will GPA Drop After Transfer to Prep School Hurt Admission Odds?

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

Question: Hi, I’m a high school freshman looking to attend a boarding school with an exceptionally challenging curriculum. Current students have said that straight A’s are very difficult to achieve there, though students end up much more prepared for college and careers. They also mentioned that admissions officers tend to be more lenient with grades from this school, given the curriculum. Would the drop in my GPA if I attend hurt my admissions chances for college?

College admission officials do recognize that it can be a lot tougher to earn high grades in a rigorous prep school than it may be in your local public school (or in less selective private schools). The admission folks are very aware of the grading systems at all of the most well-known boarding schools (and even at many that aren’t so well known). So your transcript will be viewed in the context of your school norms, and you won’t be compared to applicants from less challenging high schools.

Top boarding schools typically have strong relationships with the most sought-after colleges, but they also typically have throngs of students aiming for the same short list of colleges. So, when it comes to admission to the hyper-competitive places, there are pros and cons to attending an elite prep school. But you definitely don’t have to worry that a drop in your GPA (as long as it’s not sinking like a stone 😉 ) will hurt you if you choose to enroll.


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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