What Grade Inflation Means In Your College Search

We’ve written in the past about grade inflation, the phenomenon that has raised all high school students’ grades while diminishing the meaning of a straight-A GPA.  As I note in the video to the right, if college admission offices are talking about it, you need to know about it!

Nationally known tutor Jed Applerouth penned this article about grade inflation after a he presented with college admission officers at a counselor conference in November.  So after you learn what grade inflation actually is, and after you’ve accepted that it’s really a “thing” that colleges are taking into consideration as they make admission decisions, where do we go from here?  The true impact of grade inflation is that colleges are now giving more weight to the rigor of students’ course load, as well as their out of school activities.

They’re looking for evidence of the kind of person you’ll be on their campus – are you creative?  Do you take initiative to start new things?  Is diversity and inclusiveness important to you?  These are all things you can show through your activities descriptions and your essays – and you can show them through a wide variety of activities.  I say that because we’re often asked if one type of activity is better than others – is three years of being on the yearbook better than two years on student council?  Is a sport better than theatre?  You can definitely show you’re enterprising, goal-oriented, reliable, empathetic in any of these activities – and more.  In fact – here’s a list of characteristics that might help you get started describing your activities with an eye towards helping colleges see the human qualities you embody in your everyday life.

In the end, colleges are looking to build a class.  They don’t need every student to be perfect, and that’s why some kids whose test scores or GPA are lower are admitted to some very selective schools.  The college admission process is truly a sorting hat, but it’s not ONLY based on the obvious factors of grades and test scores.  And widespread grade inflation has forced colleges to look for more than just grades and test scores in college applications.  So your job is to dig into your activities and use those experiences to demonstrate your leadership, commitment and other personality traits to show colleges what kind of roommate, teammate and classmate you’ll be.

This is another reason that starting to think about your college search earlier in high school is a good idea.  If you start planning in 9th or 10th grade, you can think about what activities you’d like to pursue.  If you wait until the summer between 11th and 12th grades, all you can do is look back.  Start early and take more control of your destiny!

If you need some help with planning this all out, we’re here to help!



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