Do my middle schoolers’ GPA matter when it comes to potential colleges? This has been a question that has come up in our organization recently and it dawned on me that this is a question and maybe, a misconception that many parents and high school students have. It has led me to the journey of setting the record straight and hopefully getting students and parents back on track for their college planning strategy.
Let’s start by answering the actual question itself, do middle school grades count to admissions officers? The short answer is no, these grades are not an important factor to colleges nor do they count towards your college admissions. In fact, colleges don’t even ask for those grades because they don’t measure a student’s current academic performance. The only academic factors that colleges consider are what happens in your high school years. So what does that mean for middle-school grades or grade point average (GPA)? It means that those numbers are not considered because there is no data to show how well you would do in college since college co-requisites are much more advanced.
Why don’t colleges consider middle school GPA?
The only information colleges see before you apply to college through your official transcript is what’s happened in your freshman thru the senior year. The rest doesn’t matter! Middle School GPAs don’t count towards college applications because colleges aren’t interested in lower-level academic marks. They want to make sure that their applicant is currently up-to-date and college-ready and that typically comes during their high school career. They are interested in how advanced you were academically when applying to college–if you took advanced placement courses, skipped a grade level, earned an IB diploma, passed your ap exams, maintained a good GPA, etc. They are not interested in what happened before your freshman year of high school because they have no way of knowing if those previous achievements would translate to being successful in college-level academics. Middle school grades simply happened too long ago to show any relevant data to the college of your current academic ability. It would be a terrible metric for a school to use those numbers and admit you on them because they are not good indicators of whether you would be a strong college student. There is much better data for colleges to use for admissions.
When do middle school GPA matters for college?
So for most people, middle school grades simply don’t matter for college applications or admissions decisions. But for the very select few, they might indirectly matter. The only time they will matter is if your student is applying to an elite private high school or a competitive magnet program. These selective schools will require high grades from your middle school in order to be considered for admissions. Where the student goes to high school does make a difference to some college admissions committees because some colleges may look and rank based on the quality of high school/program the student attends- especially the highly selective colleges. This is not to say that your student cannot get into competitive colleges without going to some fancy private high school or a magnet program. There is no need to panic that your dreams of attending an Ivy League are gone because you went to your local public high school. This is simply saying that there might be SOME weight on college admissions if a student goes to a highly ranked high school or program.
Do I need to worry if my child’s middle school GPA is not that strong?
Again, that answer is NO. Not even the most competitive of colleges or the Ivy League schools will look at these grades. Unless you are looking at applying for advanced high school programs, middle school GPA and grades do not move the needle at all when it comes to college admissions. Instead focus on the metrics that matter, high GPA (freshman-first quarter/semester of senior year), class rank, advanced classes, extracurricular activities, test scores (click the link to check out our courses), letters of recommendation, volunteer work, and your college essays for the college admissions process. Again, middle school grades don’t matter and aren’t considered in the overall college application process.
No matter what your college admission goals are, focus on the things that matter and less on the things that don’t. If anyone tells you that what you do before the ninth grade directly impacts your chances of getting into college, RUN THE OTHER WAY! This is simply not true, your guidance counselor or college admissions officer will tell you the same thing. Good idea to focus on the metrics that colleges care about, get involved with great college prep courses, and START early. This means, making sure you are doing everything you need to be doing and checking off all of the boxes for your classes. Where it really counts!