Discuss the impact of grades and course selection on college admission.

   Your student's academic performance is probably one of your primary concerns as you consider his or her college future, and it should be. A student's academic performance in high school often indicates the student's diligence, self-discipline, and ability to accept new challenges, all of which are the makings of a successful college student.

What to know about Grades:

   While "the higher the GPA, the better" is still standard practice, many admission counselors admit that they are more interested in a student's trend of performance. Does the student start out strong freshman year and then gradually show less effort? Does the student struggle early on but show improvement by senior year? Is the student consistently working hard and achieving personal success? Admission staff at selective colleges want to know in what direction your son or daughter is headed. A student's GPA should reflect an increase in achievement or evidence of a student who consistently performs at the height of his or her ability. Since students apply to colleges during their senior year, grades and course selection during junior year need to be especially strong.

What to know about Course Selection:

   Selective colleges look for a student who prepared for college as best as he or she could. A student who chooses to take classes beyond the school's graduation requirements shows initiative and diligence. On a transcript, advanced classes like calculus or physics indicate that the student pursued courses that provide a strong academic background. Honors-level classes often help students prepare for the rigors of college academics and show that the student has sought extra challenges. Because these classes are more challenging, admission counselors typically will not penalize a student who earns a slightly lower grade in an honors level class, even if the student's high school does not "weight" grades. As parents, it is important to recognize your child's ability and encourage him or her to choose courses that provide sound college preparation at a level best suited for your student.

The Bottom Line:
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