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What Are The Best Schools For C Students? Read Before Apply

If your average grade throughout all of highschool was a C, then your GPA is something along the lines of 2.2. The national average usually ranges between 2.8 and 3.0, so having a GPA of 2.2 is below the average.

Because of this, any top tier schools are way out of reach; you don’t have zero chances of getting in, but it would be practically impossible.

What schools are best for C students? As a C student, your chances get slimmer as the acceptance rate goes down. You could, however, get into a state school that is not as selective as UMD. Colleges such as Clemson University or the University of Miami will be considered reach schools. 

Can I get into a state school as a C student?

We have to establish one thing that will make the answer to this vary. There are states which have more “prestigious” state schools than others.

California is possibly the state with the best public schools; they have schools such as the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), University of California – Berkeley, and the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Virginia also has good state schools such as the University of Virginia (UVA), College of William and Mary, and Virginia Tech. Most states do have at least one good college to go to, though. 

For someone who has a GPA of 2.2/an average grade of C throughout high school, a public school on the same level as UCLA is probably way out of reach.

I can’t go through every state and list the school I think would be the best fit, but I can give a couple of examples:

  • George Mason University (Fairfax, VA) – Even though their average GPA is approximately 3.7, they have quite a high acceptance rate at 81%. With a GPA of about 2.2, you will have a shot at George Mason.
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS) – The average GPA is pretty high at 3.6, but with an acceptance rate of 92%, it would be really hard not to get accepted.

Schools on the same level/ranking as George Mason and the University of Kansas are fit for a C student to have a chance to attend.

What would a reach, target, and safety school look like for someone with a low GPA?

In my article about Safeties for Ivy League Applicants, I mentioned that state schools such as the University of Maryland – College Park (UMD) and Pennsylvania State University (PennState) would be on the border of safety school and target schools. 

Safety schools are schools you are sure you will get into, target schools are schools that you have a slightly higher chance of getting accepted into rather than being rejected from, and reach schools are schools that you are way more likely to get rejected from. 

These schools, I think, would be one the border of reach and target schools. They have acceptance rates of 47% and 56%, making them harder to get into if you have a lower than average GPA.

George Mason University and the University of Kansas would be considered safety/target schools for students with a GPA of 2.2. Target schools would include universities on the same level as Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA).

Will colleges reject me just because of my GPA?

There are multiple components of an application: transcript/GPA, letters of recommendation, extracurriculars, standardized test scores, common app essay & supplementals.

Since there are many parts to your application, your chance of getting in does not solely depend on a single component. However, if you have something undesirable on your application, such as a low GPA, you’re making your chances of getting slimmer and slimmer. 

Your grades in school probably show a good reflection of how you will do in the college you’ve applied to.

If you manage to have good grades while taking rigorous courses (AP, IB, & honors), it shows that you are smart and have a good work ethic.

Colleges, especially when they get more selective, want students who do well in high school because they think that those students will do well in their college. 

Many colleges claim that they look at your college application “holistically”, which I don’t doubt entirely. Still, you will have to have some really impressive extracurriculars and essays to compensate for a lower than average GPA. 

If I’m getting recruited to play a sport, is a GPA of 2.2, ok?

So, I’m not at all fully educated on how sports work, but I did understand the basis of getting recruited. Your GPA will be calculated differently than most high school students; the NCAA will only calculate the cumulative grade of your core classes (16 NCAA approved courses in total).

Your GPA, if you’re being recruited for D1, needs to be at least a 2.3, and if you’re recruited for D2, your GPA needs to be at least 2.2. 

There are also SAT/ACT requirements you must meet as well to be qualified. 

Having said this, that doesn’t mean your chances of being recruited are high. If you have the bare minimum grades, your options will be limited. It’s simple, the higher your grades, the higher your chances are.

So if you do have a GPA of 2.2, you won’t be eligible for D1 sports, and even with D2 sports, your chances are slim. What I’ve just told you is the basics of getting recruited with a certain GPA.

If you want to know more detailed information, go to the NCSA Sports website

If I have a low GPA, should I go to community college instead?

Like I said, if you have a low GPA, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed forever and will never get into a university. However, applying to community college is not a bad idea because they accept almost all who apply.

The highest degree you can get at a community college is an associate’s degree, which can be accomplished in 2 years. After community college, many people transfer to their state school as a junior.

Transferring from community to state college, at least in my state, is pretty much assured as long as you had an average of C during community college. Once you complete community college, your GPA generally resets if you enter a university. 

If you consider going to a community college and then transferring to a university, there can be many benefits.

If I had a low GPA in high school and decided to go to community college, I would definitely work on my grades (even though you only need a C to transfer and your GPA resets). Community college is not better for someone with a GPA of 2.2, but rather an alternative that you should consider. 

So, what are good schools for a C student?

There are many schools that a C student could apply to:

  • George Mason University (Fairfax, VA) – Even though their average GPA is approximately 3.7, they have quite a high acceptance rate at 81%. With a GPA of about 2.2, you will have a shot at George Mason.
  • University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS) – The average GPA is pretty high at 3.6, but with an acceptance rate of 92%, it would be really hard not to get accepted.
  • University of Oregon (Eugene, OR) – The average GPA is 3.59, which is still pretty high, but the acceptance rate is 83%.
  • Arizona State University – Tempe (Tempe, AZ) – The average GPA for ASU Tempe is 3.54, but they have a slightly higher acceptance rate than University of Oregon at 85%

Schools on the same level/ranking as these four would also be fit for a C student.

If you are still in high school as a freshman or sophomore, please put as much effort as possible into your grades in school. The higher your grades are, you will have greater chances at better schools.

If you are a junior reading this and have not done well in your freshman or sophomore year, it will be much harder to bring your GPA up, but you should keep trying!


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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