Getting Into an Ivy League School with C’s?

Recently we got this email:

Subject: Getting into ivy league with C's??

Message: Hi, I am currently a junior in high school and I was never really interested in studies and getting into good colleges back when I started 9th grade. But now, I finally found the motivation but I feel like its too late. Is there anything I can do with the time I have to boost myself?

We pride ourselves on answering all your emails, but sometimes we answer them publicly because we get so many similar ones.We especially liked this question.

We are huge cheerleaders of students who have figured it out and are now ready to really commit to doing their best. It’s never too late to decide that school is important, that grades matter, and that you want more.  We are very proud of the writer of this email.

With all of that being said, it’s unfortunately very rare to get into an Ivy League school with C’s during your freshman year, or at any time during your high school career. Yes, there are exceptions but it’s never a good idea to hinge your hopes on the very small chance that something might happen. It’s not an effective application strategy, and an even worse use of your time.

You might have heard that Ivy League schools look for growth, and that is true. But generally speaking, they want to see you go from getting 95’s to getting 99’s. Not from a C+ to an A-. An example of growth might be that a student goes from being a member of a club their freshman year, to starting their own club sophomore year, and then taking it to other schools junior year. Ivy League Schools are looking for grades that are nearly perfect, and they almost always have been.

While we have you, let’s talk about the Ivy League. We often speak to and work with students that want to go to an Ivy League school. Any Ivy League school will do. They don’t care which one. It’s very common for high school aged students to believe that it’s an honor to go to any Ivy League, and that life will work out perfectly if you graduate from Harvard, Penn, or Columbia. That is not the case.

You should research and look into an Ivy the same way you appraise a state school, or any other school you’re interested in. We encourage our clients and readers to break through the allure of Ivy League schools by looking into specific programs, majors, professors, and extracurricular activities and seeing if you genuinely like them or not. We cannot stress this enough: you are way better off going to a school that checks your boxes than wasting your time applying to every Ivy just to see if you get in. The Ivy League is a brand with very good marketing. You need to look deeper.

If you’ve gotten C’s during your freshman year and have steadily improved your grades over the years, you still have great college options in your future. What’s most important is figuring out what you’re looking for and applying to schools that can fit those needs.


Need help building out a college list? Contact us here.