How to Get Into a Good College With Bad Grades in High School?

It is certainly understandable why poor grades or low SAT scores may keep a student from believing they can go to college. However, admissions officers are growing more and more understanding of the fact that even though a student may not be the best test-taker, they still have plenty of offer! That is why it is important to remember that even if a less than stellar GPA is on the cards, you CAN still be accepted into college.

At the benefit of many students, grades are becoming only a small component of the college admissions process. Colleges and universities understand that grades and test scores do not necessarily guarantee success in college, or even in life beyond college! There is now, more than ever, an importance being placed on “soft factors” such as non-academic skills, personal achievements, and work experience. These factors can indicate perseverance, determination, an open-mind or a willingness to grow, all crucial elements of success.

First Things First: Will a College Accept Low SAT Scores?

Yes, high school grades and standardized test scores are an important component of many college admissions requirements. However, it is important to know that they are not the only component. In fact, there are many other considerations that a college admissions team, especially those of an art school, will take into account. They understand, after all, that everybody thinks in a different way is backed by different skills and interests.

While GPA and SAT scores do play a very important role in your acceptance, other factors to be considered include:

  • Extracurricular activities
  • Work experience
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers, tutors, and employers
  • Personal hobbies or talents related to the school or program (highlighting artistic talent may be beneficial to applying to an art school, for example)
  • Other certifications i.e. a first-aid qualification

By demonstrating your ability to take on responsibilities, follow your interests, and achieve goals, you can, to some extent, overcome your poor academic performance and still be accepted into college. In many cases, it is simply a matter of being well-rounded and adaptable.

How to Recover from a Poor GPA

When it comes to applying for college with bad grades behind you, there are several things you can do to substantially improve your chances of getting accepted:

1) Research which degree you’d like and which schools you’d like to attend

Some colleges and universities offer a large selection of programs, while others specialize in one area. For example, a liberal arts school will offer degrees that span the industries while some are more targeted in their education. Hussian, for example, is dedicated strictly to the arts. Research them thoroughly to better understand which is best suited for your skills and interests. The type of school you attend will put more emphasis on certain admissions requirements. For example, an school like Hussian will often pay more attention to a submitted art portfolio or artist statement than they would SAT scores.

2) Call the college you’re interested in for advice on how best to apply

Never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned phone call. Connect with the admissions office and ask them how much of an emphasis they place on test scores or GPA. If you do have poor grades, ask if they have any advice on how to make your application more impressive. Alternatively, if social media is more your thing, try connecting with current or past students of your select college. Alumni are often more than willing to offer their insight and experience.

3) Consider attending a community college to raise your test scores and broaden your experience

Though this option isn’t for everyone, for some, it serves as a backup plan if their select college is less forgiving of poor test scores. Community colleges provide students with the opportunity to earn higher grades, which may help open new doors during the college application process down the road. In fact, many of Hussian’s students transferred from community colleges!

4) Apply to colleges that accept low SAT scores

Colleges that accept low SAT scores or poor transcripts still provide the same levels of academic distinction, the same social experiences, and the same commitment to excellence as other colleges. In fact, many colleges are becoming more and more understanding of the fact that test scores don’t necessarily showcase the true value of a student. There’s so much more to an applicant!

At Hussian, we understand that some students simply don’t perform as well on standardized tests. That’s why we put more focus on professional development. We’ve created a nurturing community and our Philadelphia Campus provides the perfect combination of a real-world working atmosphere with artistic motivation.

5) Make your personal statement or application essay epic

Many colleges request or require that students submit an essay, personal statement, or creative assessment with their application. These exercises are designed to help college admissions officers learn about you beyond your SAT scores. It offers them the opportunity to take a look at your personality, passions, achievements, and influences.

So, if you do end up with poor test grades, accompanying your college application with an epic essay can be of huge benefit! Take advantage of the opportunity by showcasing your charisma, strengths, and non-academic skills to such a degree that your high school grades will be less important. We even offer guidance on how to do just that!

6) Find out what else your college would like you to provide

You might be pleased to hear that not all colleges require students to take entrance exams. In fact, many refrain from related requirements because they understand that not all students are excellent test takers. Instead, they may request you to do other things, such as:

  • register for an official campus visit;
  • attend a face-to-face interview with course professors;
  • supply school-specific supplements or personal recommendations;
  • submit an art assessment or creative portfolio.

Remember, be sure to talk with someone from the admissions department to check if your college of choice has any other application requirements or options. Take advantages of as many opportunities as you can. Consider it a free pass to provide them with as much information about you as possible.

Gaining Acceptance to Hussian College 

If you’d like to be considered for a place at Hussian College, here are three guidelines designed to help you enhance your application.

1) Complete your transcript request form 

When applying to Hussian, the first thing you will need to do is complete a transcript request form. Completing this is a requirement. Our college admissions officers will request an official summary from your high school which tells them what classes you took, what your grades were in those classes, what your GPA is and how you ranked in your classes. While your grades will be reviewed, this transcript is more to help our admissions officers gain a better understanding of your experience as a student. Remember, we strongly believe that grades aren’t everything; they are NOT the only factors we take into consideration.

2) Submit your portfolio

This stage of the application process is optional, however, we highly recommend that you send us an artistic portfolio because it will give our admissions team valuable insights into yourself as a person and as an artist. Much more so than any high school transcript ever could. By submitting a portfolio of your best pieces, which not only communicate your technical skills but also your artistic goals and life aspirations, you will greatly improve the likelihood of being accepted here at Hussian. So be bold and choose the artwork that best speaks to you as a person.

3) Nail the Creativity Assessment Activity

this is another optional task, but completing it will increase your chances of being considered for a spot. The Creativity Assessment consists of two components, a brief essay and a creative exercise. Both parts of the activity are meant to help us learn more about you as a person and more about you as an artist. While the 200-500-word personal statement is designed to help us evaluate your creativeness and dedication to the creative process, it is important to remember that we will also be checking grammar; punctuation and spelling. The creative exercise was designed to show us how you follow guidelines, how inventively you interpret briefs, how to present your work, and what types of artistic risk you take.

Transcripts aren’t the be all and end all – you can get accepted into college with a bad transcript!

Grades really are only one component of a college’s admissions process.

Nowadays, many universities focus much more on having a diverse and multi-skilled campus; they like to admit people from all walks of life; with all manner of talents and with a wide range of grades. That is why there is so much emphasis placed on who you are as a person and what competencies; characteristics; energy and creativity you can bring to campus.

This is why it’s essential you don’t give up on applying, because college is always still an option, even if you had bad grades.

At Hussian College, we understand that our students and applicants are so much more than grades and test scores. We are proud to place our highest emphasis on an applicant’s dedication and passion. Learn more about the BFA art programs offered at our Philadelphia campus and begin your application process today!