Will Failing Grades Kill Your UC Dreams? - Merit Educational Consultants

Will Failing Grades Kill Your UC Dreams?

So you’ve worked hard to maintain mostly A’s and B’s, and an occasional C, and you were setting your sights for the UC’s. UCLA in So Cal or Cal up in Berkeley for you high achievers. Santa Barbara with the beaches or Santa Cruz with the redwoods. Everything’s set. Life is swell. But then you check your grades and find out that you actually bombed your pre-calc final, and ended up with a D! Oh noes!

Your head starts spinning. Your dreams vanish. You think you’ll be the only one in your class who won’t get into any colleges, and you’ll wind up working as a purse-dog swapper for a socialite. But wait, IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. 

Come on out from under that rock, and dust yourself off. Believe it or not, one terrible grade won’t hurt your overall GPA if you’ve been getting mostly A’s. 

While living in denial is a happy place to be, it’s time to calculate your GPA so you can make some smart decisions that can actually help you to get into your top colleges. But, if you’re like most people, you don’t actually know your GPA. And, the thought of figuring out the formula and doing the math stresses you out. Then you actually start thinking that a community college might be your best option. But seriously, all you need is one of the many GPA calculators you can find online.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Get a copy of your transcript — unofficial is fine.
  2. Enter your grades and their weights (regular or honors/AP), and the calculator will do the rest for you!

Remember, some colleges only consider 10th and 11th grades, not 9th grade or 12th. Now that you’ve got the hang of it, enter an A or a B to replace your D in Pre-calculus to see if retaking the class will substantially improve your GPA.  

OK, now that you’ve got the facts, it’s time to make some decisions. If your D or F brings down your GPA below where you need it to be to get into your #1 college, then you have 3 choices. You can:

  1. Retake the class at your school,
  2. Take the class at a local community college or online program, or 
  3. Take a one-on-one class at a private school (like Merit Academy!)

The good news: Most colleges will replace your original D with your new grade when calculating your GPA. 

Your parents’ financial situation will probably determine which of the 3 options is best for you. Retaking the course (it has to be the exact course, with the same course title) will be the easiest and least expensive. Meet with your guidance counselor to make sure the course is offered the next semester or over the summer.

Pro Tip: To improve your chances of getting a better grade, compare teachers and select one who has the best reputation. 

If your teacher options are murky at best, consider retaking the course at a different school, a community college, or an online program. The downside here is that there will be a cost (for private schools and colleges) and the course may be taught at a faster pace with a wide range of students whose grades will affect the class curve.

Pro Tip: Only choose this option if you’re a strong student and you feel super confident that retaking it will land you an A in the class. If you’re really lost and this subject is NOT one of your favorites, taking it in college with instructors who expect college-level students or taking an online course without an actual instructor is a BAD IDEA. 

If finances aren’t muddying the decision process, then retake your class from an accredited high school that offers one-on-one classes. Yes, these schools do exist! While it might not be fair, it is totally legit. You’ll have your own teacher who will customize your course so that you completely understand the concepts and you’ll have the best chance to actually ace the class. The class schedule is set around your busy schedule and you can actually complete the class in as little as 2 months! It’s really a no-brainer, but it IS the most expensive option. 

The bottom line: retake classes that you got a D or F in. It’ll improve your GPA and keep you in the running for college admissions.