Do Those Freshman Grades Really Matter?

Do Those Freshman Grades Really Matter? For many students, the transition to freshman year of high school is filled with worries about social life, complicated schedules, and finding the right way to class. Somewhere along the way, concerns about quality of work and first and second quarter grades can get pushed down low on the list of priorities. At year’s end, many rising sophomores are stunned by the fact that their 4.0 in eighth grade slipped to a 3.0 or 2.5. But a surprising question some counselors and parents hear from students is “do those freshman grades really matter?”

According to several educational consultants and guidance counselors we interviewed, simply put….yes, all grades matter. But some point out that colleges can be somewhat forgiving of those first high school grades. Dr. Michele Hernandez told us, “While freshman grades are important to set the tone for H S, colleges look at grade trend, so the important thing is to improve each year and to take more and more challenging courses.” Many high school counselors we spoke with agreed, but with a caveat. As one said, “This is a very competitive market at the moment. While many colleges may forgive a less than stellar freshman year, they don’t have to. If you have your heart set on an ivy or top tier school, numbers matter. While there are many other factors involved in getting that acceptance letter, GPA is certainly among the top factors looked at by just about every college out there.”

Amy Fleming, of Admissions Consultants, also stressed the importance of grades and GPA. Fleming explains, “Most college applicants do not understand that even senior grades are a huge factor in the admissions process. Admissions Counselors are looking for threads in a student’s record that weave together the whole student. T here is also the factor of the overall GPA, which is calculated beginning with the freshman year.” Fleming asserts that while it’s good to see progress, to know who a student was and has become, “coming from C’s to B’s will not be impressive as maintaining B’s and A’s all along.”

Many high school professionals stressed not to let a disappointing freshman year set a negative tone for the remaining years. There is still plenty of time to improve grades, raise GPA’s and build a strong resume of commitment and hard work in other areas. While all agreed that a good performance in that first high school year is a worthwhile goal, it is equally important not to let one disappointing year set the tone for the coming years. If you are a rising freshman, the best advice is to focus on academics from day one. For those rising sophomores who may be disappointed in their current GPA, keep in mind that it is not too late to turn it around and set realistic goals for the next three years of high school. For more information, go to



Ashley Fleming has a master’s degree from Columbia University and began her admissions career at the University of North Florida while she was still an undergraduate student at George Washington University. Fleming is an Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Maryland Admissions Consultants,

Dr. Michele Hernandez, head of her own consulting firm, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 1989 and went on to earn a Master’s degree in English and comparative literature from Columbia University and a doctorate in education. She was assistant director of admissions for Dartmouth College and the academic dean of a private school in Florida. Among her best selling books is “A is for Admission”. Hernandez College Consulting,


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Author: Dorothy Venditto
Dorothy Venditto is founder of and a certified teacher in NY State.