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Can I get into a decent college with a 2.5 GPA?

QUESTION: I'm a junior in high school and I know it's time to at least start thinking about college. I know that my choices are a little limited because of my statistics. My GPA so far is 2.5 and my SATs are 550 critical reading and 600 math. I also have a few extracurricular activities. Is there any chance for me to get into a decent college? Signed, Hopeful

Dear Hopeful: It is good that you have begun to think about college admission. You are probably wondering if there is a way for you to look good enough on your applications for admission officers to overlook the past. Well, there is!

First, be sure that your class load is as challenging as possible but still short of being too much to handle. Class selection is more important than actual grades. An A in home economics is not nearly as impressive as a B in AP Physics.

Being a junior, you have plenty of time to turn your admission chances around. Now is the time to start getting involved with extracurricular activities and community service. Find something that you like or that you are good at, and commit yourself to it.

As for your SATs, there is nothing more effective to raise your scores than practice. Try out SAT preparation books to find out which suits your learning abilities best. You can also take an SAT preparation class. Flash cards can't hurt either.

Keep in mind that there are other things besides your grades, SATs and extracurricular activities that can determine whether or not you are accepted. Class selection, the essay, recommendations, the extent to which you pursue your interests and the interview are also important. Focus now while there is still time on the items you can affect and improve the most, and admission officers will notice the turnaround rather than your past record.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.