"freshman grades don't matter" according to high school counselor

<p>My son's high school guidance counselor told my son when he was a freshman (and very unmotivated to begin with) that freshman grades don't matter. I could have jumped out of my seat, but I restrained myself. Am I still living in the 70s? Is this really true? I bring it up again because I recently heard a representative from Stanford admissions tell a freshman class the same thing.</p>

<p>I understand that most of the UCs only ask for GPA as calculated from sophomore and junior years. However, I also understand that Cal Poly asks for freshman grades to be included in the GPA calculation.</p>

<p>My questions:</p>

<p>1) Can someone post names of colleges where freshman grades are included in GPAs for their applications?</p>

<p>2) Does anyone else see this kind of advice from a guidance counselor as problematic?</p>

<p>If there is a rising GPA in the sophomore, junior and senior years, sub par freshmen grades are not much of a concern. If the trend, however, is reversed then an explanation for subsequent decreasing grades may be required. In this time of ultra competitive admissions for a spot in a top 50 or so school, everything on an applicant's transcript matters to a certain extent with the most recent grades weighed more heavily as a student matures.</p>

<p>The vast majority of competitive schools consider all grades, including freshman and first semester senior year grades (for RD or deferred applicants). They ask for freshman-junior GPAs and class rank (if your school ranks). The major exception is the UC's.</p>

<p>While Frosh grades do not figure into the "UC gpa", the UCs "look" at Frosh grades which are now included on the application, unlike the old days when Frosh grades were not to be seen.</p>

<p>So, yes, the blanket statement is problematic, IMO.</p>

<p>In most cases, freshman grades do matter. I wish they didn't. I think all kids should have a year to acclimate to high school.</p>

<p>I've had this conversation with many ad. officers over the years as seven children have been considering college. A rising trend is always good, but the most selective schools generally (not always, mind you) look at things like class rank (if available) and overall GPA. Both those things tend to involve freshman grades.</p>

<p>The only school that I know of among the schools we looked at is Princeton. And even then, they see the transcript. I'm not sure that from a subjective standpoint they can totally ignore them.</p>

<p>I sure didn't tell my oldest son (who was a freshman last year) that his grades didn't matter. They probably do matter at some colleges. Class rank, which is established in part by freshman grades, can matter a LOT at some colleges. At the very least, and why I urged my son last year to get good grades, is that working efficiently as a freshman sets up good study habits for the years that undisputably matter. </p>

<p>That said, we have decided here in this family to urge our children to take the most challenging courses possible, even at the risk of not having a perfect G.P.A. That, after all, is what a lot of kids do in "prep" high schools. So the key issue for a freshman is not just what the grades are, but what the courses are. A freshman who is aiming high for colleges (say, at Stanford, mentioned by the OP) should be sure to take challenging courses throughout high school.</p>

<p>Some colleges, like USC, consider all years' grades but put less emphasis on freshman grades.
From their website-
"Naturally, we are interested in consistently strong academic performance throughout your four-year high school record. However, we realize that some bright students, for one reason or another, don't always get off to a great start in ninth grade. In these cases, special attention is given to steady and substantial improvement throughout the sophomore, junior and senior years."</p>

<p>They matter. Schools look for trends, what kind of courses you take and of course your overall gpa. They dont matter as much as Junior and Senior year grades. They dont matter as much as sophomore year. But they still matter. The counselor was likely trying to make him feel better. Some kids struggle not because they are not intellectually capable, but because of other issues, such as peer pressure, self esteeem (you might be surprised who has poor self esteem and why.....teenagers are tough nuts to crack about that issue and often hide it and lie about it....but it can be devastating to some of them....so probe carefully and lovingly and make sure that is not an issue.) It can be because they have TOO many EC"s going on...like sports. Maturity is another reason.</p>

<p>Getting kids to understand the importance of grades and at the same time motivating them in a positive manner is very tricky business. They can fold up faster than a card table if you are not careful. I found that using a positive reward methodology helps a great deal. "Consistently good grades (not just one test or one quarter or one class) will get you this or that privilege...or a new Ipod or a new computer....or something positive." You arent buying grades you are motivating him in a positive manner and not punishing him.</p>

<p>If he is struggling then get him a tutor. Make sure his friends are academically oriented and if they arent, suggest he find friends that are a positive influence on schoolwork. </p>

<p>And fear not....there are lots of colleges out there and more than one that is a perfect fit for him no matter where he ends up gpa/sat -wise. Motivate but dont humiliate. What you really want is a kid who is healthy and happy and confident. That is more valuable than any one grade or college admission ticket.</p>

<p>Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I agree that it's tricky figuring out how to motivate teenagers, especially ones for whom college is a far-away event. But to me it seems more useful to encourage kids to aim high rather than set them up with an easy excuse right off the bat. My son isn't struggling, but how many times does he get to use the "freshman grades don't matter" quote to try to get out of giving any effort at all in his courses that challenge him? My preference would be zero ;-)</p>

<p>It depends on the university. The University of Michigan does not even look at Freshman year. I am pretty sure MIT, Princeton and Stanford also ignore Freshman grades. Even schools that look at Freshman grades will not consider them nearly as much as Sophomore or Junior grades. </p>

<p>This said, your son's couselor is highly irresponsible for saying that Freshman grades do not matter.</p>

<p>vballmom:</p>

<p>the real key is the study habits your S could be/should be learning Frosh year, which in some high schools is a big jump from the more social middle school. If he waits until grades 'matter', he's lost a full year on learning/practicing better skills.</p>

<p>And, as others have noted, Class Rank matters. Even Stanford, which claims to ignore frosh grades, uses class rank which factors in Frosh grades: 89% of matriculants in top decile of HS class; 69% of matriculants submitted class rank. [btw: That 69% is an extremely high number, since Stanford is 40% Calif residents, and nearly half of Calif public high schools do not rank.]</p>

<p>I don't think a counselor should be making statements along those lines at all. Granted I have had all sorts of issues with my guidance counselor and her non-communication skills, but this seems very, very wrong. Some colleges may not look as closely at year-to-year progression, but I can tell you that almost all of them will be interested in his GPA, and that obviously includes freshman year. Her generalization is frighteningly inaccurate.</p>

<p>The best thing to remember is that no matter your son's freshman grades, his presence at an interview will give him the opportunity to explain himself and talk about the growth or change he has made, separating him from whatever his report card might say.</p>

<p>When I was in middle school, teachers always told me middle school grades didn't matter. So I stopped trying and by the time I got to high school I forgot how I ever got good grades in elementary school. I had no study skills whatsoever. The school system now had me labeled as a bad student so they put me in all the stupid classes where there was no motivation for me to learn anything.</p>

<p>I'm now a freshman in college, a college that normally takes gpa and grades into consideration but let me slide by because of my art portfolio. I've never had to memorize anything in my life or do any kind of college level work, so it's really difficult. I'm mad at those middle school teachers for not caring if I failed at everything, my life would be easier now if they cared.</p>

<p>TokenAdult has many good points. Freshman grades are considered as part of class rank if nothing else. But it is important to take the most challenging courses. Colleges consider that, and more importantly, the goal of school is education. And that way your student will be more prepared for college classes.</p>

<p>Sweetie, all grades are important from DAY 1 OF FRESHMAN YR. but you can look into it by calling colleges!!</p>

<p>I guess you were so interested in calling a mom sweetie that you didn't notice this post was three years old?</p>