Will my chances decrease for a t20 college?

I’m currently a freshman in high school. During the summer of 8th grade, I took a language class and I got below an F. My grades are all A’s (besides that language class) and have been for the past 3 years, and I plan on keeping it that way. I’m currently planning on being in the IB program and get a diploma. I got my transcript to see what it would look like, and the failing grade is the first grade that shows up. Even if everything is great like EC’s, courses, SAT/ACT scores and essays would my chances decrease significantly because of that grade?

Significantly? No.

You are a freshman. Your focus should be on your high school studies and activity, not on which colleges you will attend.

Things that will help you achieve your goals:
A. Doing well in your studies.
B. Finding extracurricular activities which you find rewarding, enriching, and interesting
C. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally
D. Maintaining good relationships with friends and family

Things that won’t help you achieve your goals:
A. Obsessing over whether this occurrence, that grade, or that particular activity will increase or decrease your chances to be accepted to one of the a list of twenty very popular colleges.

If you do well in school and in your extracurricular activities, you will have a large selection of great colleges from which you are almost certain to find at least a few which will be great fits.

I’ll tell you a “secret”: You are not likely to attend a T-20 college. Most accept no more than 5%-10% of their unhooked applicants, and at least 40%-50% of their applicants are qualified.

If the entire focus of you studies and activities is “to get accepted to a T-20” you are more likely than not going to be disappointed, frustrated, unhappy, and bitter. There is nothing sadder than a student who has so much to celebrate when they graduate, and it seems meaningless and useless to them, because it was all for the single goal of being accepted to a “T-20”, and this did not happen.

Finally, I will repeat what I say in all cases: college is part of your journey, it’s not a destination, and it is a pretty mean and meager goal for a student who wants to do well in life.


This is excellent advice and should be pinned!! More students and families need to read this.

I’m assuming you took a high school language course over the summer before entering to get ahead; I don’t know why it would be on your HS transcript otherwise. Regarding your actual question, no, in the grand scheme of things, it won’t matter that much. Still, I would strongly advise you to retake it within the next few years and do significantly better. It would be best if you also addressed it in your application. If you explain why you failed and what you learned from the experience, the initial F will likely come across as more positive than negative to admission officers. Plus, it will give you an excellent opportunity to write about and show personal growth.
Regarding the outlook, don’t count on everything being perfect; in all likelihood, that will not happen. You will only be putting a lot of pressure on yourself. To be optimistic, even if it does happen, thousands of other students will have that same “perfect” portfolio and apply to the same T20’s with you. You can only try your hardest and hope for the best when you send off your application.