What Should You Do If You Have a C Average GPA

If your high school grades were below average, you may be wondering what steps you can take to improve your situation before applying to college. With a C average, you may encounter difficulties during the application process, and you should begin mitigating these issues immediately.

In this article, I’ll discuss what a C average means for you and how you can make smart academic adjustments to improve your college prospects.

What Is a C Average GPA and How Does It Affect Your College Admissions Chances?

If you have a C average, your GPA is 2.0. This is significantly lower than the national average for high school students, who average 3.0 or a B. A GPA of this level puts you at risk of being denied admission to college. There are only a few schools that would consider you a competitive applicant with your current GPA.

If you’re still an underclassman, you may be able to raise your grades enough to improve your chances of admission when you apply to colleges your senior year. If you’re an upperclassman, your situation is more difficult, but don’t panic just yet!  There are a few steps you can take to mitigate the negative impact a low GPA will have on your admissions prospects.

I’ll discuss various strategies for increasing your chances of college admission in the following section, depending on where you are in your high school career.

How Can You Increase Your Chances of Admission to College With a C Average GPA?

As a freshman or sophomore, you can take steps to improve your GPA by the time you apply to colleges. Here are some pointers that may help you get started:

Solicit Additional Assistance and Credit

If you’re stuck at a C average, you must be proactive in seeking help. Notify your teacher as soon as possible if you are having difficulty in any of your classes. The majority of teachers will gladly answer any questions you have about the subject and explain things in a manner that is more understandable to you. It can be helpful to prepare a list of questions that you have or problems you’d like to go over before you meet with your teacher. This will ensure that you get the most out of the session. Occasionally, all it takes is a slightly different explanation to provide that flash of complete comprehension. If you address these comprehension problems as soon as they arise, you will perform better on subsequent tests.

Extra credit is another option to consider if you’re looking to significantly improve your grades. Of course, not all teachers offer extra credit, but seize the opportunity if you have it! Even if you believe you are not eligible for extra credit on an assignment, you should inquire with your teacher. I understand that this may feel as though you are sucking up, but it will be worthwhile if you can improve your grade by a significant number of points.

Learn More Effective Study Habits

With a C average, your study methods almost certainly have some fundamental flaws. It is critical that you make the most of the time you spend studying. If you’re just reading over the material you need to know, you might not be retaining it in your mind. When you’re finished reading something, look away and mentally repeat it to yourself to ensure you understand it completely. Additionally, you should ask a friend, parent, or sibling to test you following each study session to ensure that you retained the information. You may need to significantly extend your study time in order to ensure that you have a firm grasp of the material.

Additionally, you should avoid cramming for tests in your position.

Plan your studying a week in advance for a large test, so that you can study for an hour each night rather than five hours the night before.

If you acquire information gradually over time, you are more likely to retain it.

rather than attempting to cram it all into your brain at once. This will result in significantly less stress on test days.

Avoid cramming too many knowledge apples into your short term memory basket at the same time. Some of them will fall out! If you gradually fill the basket, some of the apples will be digested and stored in your longer term memory. By the time you’re finished, you’ll have a manageable basket.

the test comes around.

Avoid Procrastination and Maintain an Organized Environment

Procrastination is your worst enemy as a student with a low GPA.

If you have a long-term assignment that’s due in a month or two, you should make a timeline for when you need to finish different components of the project.

Aim to complete the time-consuming components of the project one week before the deadline.

This way, you’ll have ample opportunity to polish your work before submitting it. Additionally, you’ll have time to read and reread the directions to ensure that you’ve included all necessary components and completed them to your best ability.

This type of “editing phase” can mean the difference between a C-grade project and a B- or even an A-grade project.

Additionally, it is critical that you develop strong organizational skills on a broad level so that you can stay on top of both short and long term assignments. Ascertain that you are always

Make a note in your notebooks when a new unit begins so you can easily refer back to the material when studying for tests.

Additionally, you should have a folder for each class in which you can keep important papers. Do not simply stuff them into your backpack and expect to find them later (trust me, I’ve done it).

Establish a routine of writing down your assignments each night in an agenda book to ensure that you do not forget anything.

Even if a particular class does not require homework, jot down anything you can do to prepare for future assessments. For instance, if you haven’t been assigned any problem sets for one night, you perhaps you’d like to review what you learned in math class last week..

Additional mathematics!!!!! Woohooooooo!!!

Attend Class with Extreme Caution Maintaining mental focus in class is critical if you wish to improve your grades.

If you pay attention to your teacher’s lectures and ask questions when you don’t understand something, studying for tests will be much easier later. You’ll discover that you already know some of the material by diligently following along in class.

Avoid looking at your phone or becoming distracted by other distractions to facilitate this behavior.

The most effective way to motivate yourself is to sit near the front of the class, where you will always be held accountable by the teacher. You should turn off your phone in class (or, better yet, leave it at home) to avoid being tempted to check it.

For additional advice, see my article on how to improve your high school GPA.

Even if you only manage to slightly improve your GPA (say, to a 2.5 from a 2.0), you’ll become a more competitive applicant to a greater number of colleges.

Allow your GPA to fall no further!

A 2.0 GPA is essentially the minimum required for admission to a four-year college. If you drop to a 1.8, you will not meet any school’s minimum GPA requirements. I say this only to motivate you; as an underclassman, you still have time to significantly improve your grades if you make a concerted effort!

It’s time to take things as seriously as this serious(ly adorable) cat.

Unfortunately, if you are a junior or senior, you do not have much time left to improve your grades. In this case, you should concentrate your efforts on other aspects of your application that can improve your chances of admission.

Here are some steps you can take to increase your chances of attending college:

Concentrate Your Efforts on Improving Your Standardized Test Scores

Your SAT and ACT scores will factor heavily into the majority of admissions decisions.

At many schools, test scores and grade point averages are equally weighted in the admissions process.

This means that by raising your scores, you can significantly increase your chances of attending a four-year college. We’ve written numerous articles on our blog about strategies for improving your SAT and ACT scores. Kindly utilize them as a resource!

Create an Outstanding College Essay Your college essay is an opportunity for you to demonstrate what distinguishes you as a student and as a person.

Colleges seek high achievers, but they also seek students who will bring enthusiasm and passion to their academic subjects and extracurricular activities.

Consider the ways in which you will contribute positively to the community during your college years. What makes you unique? What are you passionate about? This is information that can help you stand out from the crowd of applicants, even if your GPA is low.

What distinguishes you? Make an attempt to write an essay that will set you apart from the crowd.

What Are Your College Options If Your Grades Do Not Improve?

With this low of a GPA, you will have difficulty getting into most colleges. As I mentioned previously, improving your test scores and writing an excellent essay can help your chances. However, you will continue to consider only the least selective schools.

If you still have a chance of improving your GPA, you should begin working toward that goal as soon as possible. Additionally, you can attend a community college for your first year of undergraduate studies and then transfer to a more selective four-year institution.

This is a fantastic option if you had a low GPA in high school, but you must be prepared to work extremely hard during your first year of college. If you can commit to that and to the transfer application process, this approach will save you money on tuition AND will result in you earning a degree from a more competitive college that may not have accepted you directly out of high school.


If you graduated from high school with a C average, you may have a difficult time getting into college. A C average equates to a 2.0 grade point average, which is significantly lower than the national average of 3.0 for high school students. If you are a freshman or sophomore, there is still time to improve your GPA before applying to colleges.

It is critical that you immediately begin developing better study habits.

If you take the initiative, you may be able to significantly improve your grades and have a much better chance of attending a four-year college.

It may be too late to improve your GPA if you are a junior or senior. In this case, you should focus on improving your standardized test scores and writing the best possible application essays. Finally, if you have a C average, you can apply to some of the least selective four-year colleges or attend community college for your first year of undergrad before transferring to a more competitive school.

Even if your grades are below average, you still have a good chance of obtaining a good college education. You may be able to make changes prior to applying that will significantly increase your chances of admission. Don’t get discouraged!

What’s Next?

If you want to improve your standardized test scores, read these articles to learn some great SAT Reading, Math, and Writing study strategies. Do you want to know how much a significant improvement in your grades next year will affect your chances of getting into college? Learn which year of high school is most important to colleges when evaluating your academic performance.

If you’re still figuring out your schedule for the rest of high school, this guide will help you figure out the best way to make those choices.

Do you want to raise your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by four points?

We’ve created a guide for each test that outlines the top five strategies you must employ in order to improve your score. Download it now for free: