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College Options for High School Grads with Low or Modest GPAs

December 18, 2018

In May 2018, Anna Wulick of ACT’s PrepScholar blog posted this informative entry for high school graduates who wish to attend four-year college but who have less-than-impressive GPAs.

For those high school grads whose GPAs are really low (like, “I walked the D-average line class after class, year after year”), the piece includes three institutions that base acceptance on criteria other than GPA:

If you have a low GPA but know that you are capable of so much more, three colleges now give you a totally different way to apply!

  • Goucher College: How about this for a revolutionary idea: you only submit a two-minute video about yourself. That’s it. No transcript, no test scores—just you explaining why you deserve admission.
  • Bennington College: Similar deal here in that there’s no need to submit a transcript or test scores. Instead, you’ll turn in a self-curated collection of your work that speaks to your creative and intellectual abilities.
  • Bard College: Even though Bard still requires a transcript, you can opt to answer several college-level essay questions. Just think: an amazing performance would be a surefire way to prove you can do better than your GPA suggests!

Next– for those with somewhat more to offer on the GPA front– the PrepScholar posting includes, as Wulick, states, “a list of the least competitive campuses in larger and more competitive state university systems”:

School Average HS GPA of Admitted Applicants Admission Rate
Indiana University Northwest 2.96 79%
Louisiana State University Shreveport 3.29 81%
Penn State Schuylkill 2.90 73%
Rutgers Camden 3.30 58%
SUNY Potsdam 3.29 74%
Texas A&M Kingsville 3.35 82%
University of Arkansas at Little Rock 3.21 59%
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs 3.37 91%
University of Illinois at Chicago 3.25 77%
University of Louisiana at Monroe 3.41 94%
University of Maine at Presque Isle 3.04 77%
University of Maryland Eastern Shore 2.80 57%
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 3.20 76%
University of Michigan at Flint 3.29 74%
University of Minnesota Crookston 3.21 78%
University of Missouri Kansas City 3.36 63%
University of Nebraska at Kearney 3.47 85%
University of North Carolina at Pembroke 3.40 74%
University of Pittsburgh at Bradford 3.22 58%
University of South Carolina Beaufort 3.39 63%
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 3.48 79%
University of Texas at Brownsville 3.09 87%
University of Washington Tacoma 3.23 83%
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee 3.10 73%

Third, for those with minimal GPAs who wish to parlay their minimum into “brand name,” postsecondary schooling, Wulick also offers a short list of “name-brand” state schools “with fairly low GPA requirements”:

  • California State University
  • Connecticut State University
  • University of Hawaii
  • Massachusetts State University
  • University of Nevada
  • The CUNY system in NYC
  • The Oregon University system (not to be confused with the University of Oregon)
  • University of Rhode Island

Finally (and one must directly access Wulick’s post for this), one can view a listing of colleges with low GPAs by state.

If a high school graduate wants to attend college but has a low or modest GPA, that graduate has options, as Wulick’s posting amply demonstrates.

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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3 Comments
  1. Lance Hill permalink

    Trust me, the Charter schools that tout their high college enrollment percentages have a poster of these colleges at their counseling office. That way they can claim everyone graduating is a success story. In Louisiana we have several junior colleges and even 4-year colleges that have no minimum ACT or SAT scores. The only meaningful measure of “college prep” is the college graduation rate of students; not how many can put a stamp on an application envelope.

    Charter Schools are “application prep”, not college prep.

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