Bad Freshman Years

I’m a freshman, and I want to go to an ivy league school. I’m currently in my second semester, where I’m receiving all As in every subject, but in my first semester, I received mostly Bs, with 2 Cs and 1 D. With a stellar performance for the rest of my high school years and exceptional extracurriculars, do I still have a chance at an ivy?

Admissions decisions are very difficult to predict, particularly for schools with low acceptance rates. We have a blog article that discusses high school grades, and indicates that freshman year is often a difficult adjustment period for students. This past year, with Covid-19, was probably an even more difficult year for most 9th grade students. You may need to explain why you struggled last semester, and how you improved your performance over time (even with a more rigorous course load).

As our blog article indicates:

Colleges like to see one of two things from your academic career: either a strong performance that is maintained throughout, or an upward trend of doing better and better each year…if you had a tough time in 9th or 10th grade, then 11th grade is the year when you can show colleges the full range of your abilities by pulling off a banner year of good grades

You may also have a “spike” (see Allen’s blog post) that would make you a strong candidate despite not receiving good grades in the first semester of your Freshman year (particularly if you get all As in difficult classes for the rest of high school).