Do my student’s middle school GPA get looked at by 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 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 in college admissions? The short answer is no, middle school grades do not count towards your college admissions. In fact, colleges don’t even ask for those grades because they simply don’t matter in the application process. 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 good you would be in college since college co-requisites are so different from middle and high school courses.
Why don’t colleges consider middle school GPA?
The only information colleges see before you apply to college through your transcript is what’s happened in your last four years of schooling (high school). 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. They are interested in how advanced you were academically when applying to college–if you took AP courses, skipped a grade level, earned an IB diploma etc.–not what happened before then because they have no way of knowing if those previous achievements would translate into 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 college 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 actually matter for college?
So for most people, middle school grades simply don’t matter for college applications. But for a very select few, they might indirectly matter. The only time they will matter is if your student is applying for an elite private high school or a competitive magnet program. Where the student goes to high school pertains to college admissions because some colleges may look and rank based on the quality of high school/program the student attends- especially the highly competitive 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?
That answer is NO. 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 school GPA (freshman-first quarter/semester of senior year), class rank, advanced classes, extracurriculars, test scores, and your college essays for college admissions. 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 in middle school directly impacts your chances of getting into college, RUN THE OTHER WAY! This is simply not true. Focus on the metrics that colleges care about, have a good college planning schedule, and START early. This means, make sure you are doing everything you need to be doing and checking off all of the boxes in your high school years. Where it really counts!