What To Do If Your Child Has “Bad Grades”

I was recently asked a really good question from a parent that was interested in working with us. She asked me, "Would you be able to help my kid, even if he has really bad grades?" I said, "Absolutely." There are 3,500 colleges and universities throughout the country, if your son or daughter wants to go to college and they have bad grades, I don't want them to think that college is not a possibility for them.

I want to give you seven quick tips for you to consider if you have bad grades. The goal is not to get bad grades, but life happens. If you want to go to college, here's what you should do.


  1. Submit an explanation. Many colleges will listen to your reasoning for why you obtained grades that did not meet the standard while you were in 9th or 10th grade, and how you're working to improve while in the 11th and 12th grade.  This allows you to submit an additional letter of support and advocate for yourself about your bad grades, colleges will listen. You have to show that you're a changed person and by submitting additional information with an explanation, you're on the right track.
  2. Yes, apply for regular admission. Do not be tempted to apply early decision or even early action. You should give yourself and the school, enough time to consider your entire senior year. So if you apply regular decision, whether it's a January 1st or February 1st deadline, you've given them more time to evaluate how you're currently doing.
  3. Consider community college. Community colleges are a great way to transition into four-year universities, and many universities have relationships with community colleges that might be beneficial for you.
  4. Look into a conditional admit program. There are certain schools that will admit you upon a condition that you finish a certain course or take a summer program. Please, look into conditional admit programs at any university, there are 3,500 of them, that might consider you.
  5. Plan your comeback. Make sure that you have things in order as a person and as a student to really show a college that your grades are not a direct representation of who you are now. I used to have bad grades, but now I'm kicking butt and I want to be the best me possible. Let them know that you are going to bring the best version of yourself to their campus.
  6. You're going to play up your strengths, whether it's in extracurricular activities, athletics,  or arts. Give them something that you're particularly proud of. If you're a great writer, submit a portfolio. If you're a great musician, submit a video of you playing the piano or the violin. Whatever instrument it is, play up your strengths.
  7. Please write a classic essay. You want your essay to reveal something so powerful about you that the college will be wowed by your maturity, your initiative and by how you're advocating for yourself. 

So again, those are the seven tips. I'll run through them again if you have bad grades, you need to consider; submitting an explanation, applying for regular admission, and consider community college as a way to transition.  Also, look for schools that may have conditional admit programs. Plan your comeback. Let them know I'm coming strong. Play up your strengths and write a classic essay, you'll be proud of yourself, and a college will appreciate you too.

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