I had a significant drop in a grade. How should I make up for it?

I’m a high school senior planning to apply to liberal arts schools (Smith, Amherst, Vassar) and larger research schools (Tufts, Syracuse, Brandeis). I have participated in my school’s choir program since 9th grade and, since it counts as a class, I consistently receive high grades. However, as my school also has semester concerts and band and orchestra classes, the music department requires students to attend each other’s concerts. It’s graded, too. I have attended almost all of these concerts and written homework assignments on them; however, for the spring band concert, I wasn’t feeling well and had to go home. Since I didn’t attend, I couldn’t submit the selfie of myself at the concert that the music department uses to determine attendance, and I couldn’t finish the writing assignment. It wasn’t until my transcript came out that I realized my choir grade dropped to 75. I participate and finish all other work, so it had to be this whole concert thing. I applied to have my grade changed to a passing mark (no impact on my GPA), but my school never responded. I feel that this whole system is very unfair, and I don’t want to have this blight on my transcript. Should I explain the whole issue on the Common App?

No you shouldn’t ‘excuse’ this on the app. And one 75 in a non core class will not impact the perception of your overall profile. You earned a 75. There’s nothing to excuse. Excusing it shows you are trying to justify it and that simply makes things much worse.

Don’t know your stats but please ensure you have a complete list of school ranges - reach, target and safety.

I’m unsure why you think this is unfair. You acknowledge that you did not complete the work. You should have turned in the assignment late. You also should have known what your progress would be before seeing the transcript.

This is your best avenue to pursue. If the school does not now allow you to perform work to improve your grade, one C is not the end of the world. I can envision no way of “explaining” on an application which helps you. Good luck.


I don’t think that a less than great grade in chorus is going to knock you back too far.

What’s your overall GPA and your SAT/ACT if you plan to submit those?

I really don’t think the grade is unfair. You need to let that go. I’m a cheerleader and at my school all sports have a class period and earn a grade. I missed last night’s game because I’m sick. It’s my responsibility to go to the coach on Monday to ask for a make up assignment so I can earn back those missing points. She is not going to tell me I need to make up points. It’s my responsibility. Likewise, when you missed a performance, you should have sought out a way to make up those points.

However, it’s just an elective. I doubt it will impact you much. Appeal the grade. See if you can get it adjusted but if you can’t, don’t stress about it.