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Do Middle School Grades Matter For Your College Applications?

27 DEC 2021

It’s never too early to start thinking about college. Middle school is the perfect time for students (and their parents) to sit down and talk about the future. While it would be a bit premature to assume a middle school student has their future career path perfectly planned, it is a great time to start an open dialogue. Parents can talk with their students about their favorite school subjects, hobbies, where they would like to volunteer, and generally what’s important to them. 

The ways a student chooses to spend their middle school years can positively or negatively affect their chances of getting into a good college. But to what degree? And how much do middle school grades matter? Let’s take a look.

How Important Are Middle School Grades?

Middle school, or grades six through eight, are highly formative years where students start to think more about their future, hobbies, and what careers they’d like to pursue. If they get good grades in specific classes, it might help them decide if they want to pursue similar courses in high school. While good grades are important, they are not necessarily the most important part of middle school development

Middle school grades are also more subjective. Some middle school teachers are more lenient, and others are tough. While this is sometimes true in high school, most high schools follow a set grading standard. 

Do Colleges Look At Middle School Grades?

Many students take what they learned during their middle school years with them for the rest of their lives. One thing they don’t take with them to college is their grades. Even the most highly-competitive colleges do not look at middle school grades.

Practically speaking, middle school is just too many years from college. The college application gives admissions teams enough information to make their decisions. Additionally, a lot of change happens during these years. Students mature, learn more about themselves, and grow up a lot in middle school. 

For more information on GPA and grades, download our FREE ebook, Acing Your Academics for US University Applications.

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How To Improve Middle School Grades

Even though colleges don’t look at middle school grades, it doesn’t mean they don’t matter. Students should use the middle school years as preparation for high school. By figuring out study skills that work (and don’t work) before they enter high school, they will be more prepared to handle the rigors of high school and college.

Parents, teachers, and students can work together to ensure middle school students have the knowledge and resources they need to enter high school with confidence. It’s important to note that middle school is a time of transition. As students mature, they better understand themselves and their work habits. This understanding helps them build confidence in their academic and personal lives.

Here are a few tips parents and students can use to help improve middle school grades and prepare for high school and college success.

1. Develop good study habits

Get in the habit of using a planner. With countless online and paper planners available, students can choose one that works for them. A planner helps students manage their own time and keep track of deadlines. Updating a planner takes practice, and middle school is the perfect time to practice these skills.

2. Consider hiring a tutor

An online tutor can help students get back on track. Whether they struggle in a single subject or many subjects, a tutor can help students identify their academic weaknesses and help them solve these challenges.

3. Focus less on the grades

Since middle school grades will not count on a college application, parents should address academic and personal challenges, so students are more confident when they start high school. Parents can help students identify their most significant challenges and work together towards achieving them.

4. Offer Rewards

Everyone likes a reward for a job well done. Parents can offer a reward or incentive if their student meets or exceeds set goals. Rewards motivate students and help them feel confident and accomplished.

Crimson helps students from around the world gain admission to world-leading institutions with personalized guidance on everything from grades and test scores to extracurriculars and interviews. Schedule a free consultation with one of our expert Academic Advisors, who can answer all your questions and help get you started on the path to success.

Can Middle School Students Take High School Classes?

Some middle schools offer 9th-grade classes to students excelling in their regular classes. These opportunities allow students to take more advanced courses when they get to high school. These classes count as high school courses and will appear on their final transcript for college. But, if a middle school student takes a class and doesn’t do well, they typically can retake the class in high school, and their grade from middle school will not show up on their final transcript.

For students who would like to take additional classes on top of their current coursework, consider an online high school such as CGA who offer Online AP and Online A Level courses for gifted students looking to enhance their academic profile

What Are Colleges Looking For?

Even though colleges don’t look at middle school grades, they evaluate students’ foundational academic skills, which typically start developing in middle school. For example, middle school students learn to become independent, critical thinkers during their middle school years. Since middle school often includes long-term projects and tests, middle school students also start to understand the importance of effective time management. By planning and prioritizing, they become more productive with their time. Organization is another skill middle school students learn as they become more independent. These critical skills will help them get good grades in high school. Since most of these skills develop over time, the sooner a student can start implementing them, the more prepared they will be for college.

Colleges also look for students who are passionate about their academics and excited to bring their knowledge and enthusiasm to their school. The earlier a student can identify their strengths and passions, the longer they can build on them. So, by the time they reach college, they’re fully invested in their specific career path.

For middle school students looking to enhance their foundational academic skills, Crimson offers a junior college preparatory program known as Crimson Rise to help you can a jump start in your college application journey!

When do grades start counting?

Colleges look at grades starting in the first year of high school. As part of their application, students submit a transcript with the grades and GPA from the first three years of high school. Most colleges will ask for the fourth year, but they typically use the grades from the first three years to determine admission. Arguably, the most critical year for grades is the 3rd year, or junior year, because these grades are the most recent and will give colleges the best picture of a student’s abilities.

By developing good study habits and mastering project and time management in middle school, students will be more prepared to handle challenging high school classes and get good grades.

How to Prepare for College in Middle School

Even though college is still a few years away, it’s not too early to start thinking about the future. Here are just a few ways students can prepare for college in middle school.

1. Get good grades

While colleges don’t look at middle school grades, good grades help students get into advanced placement classes in high school. Colleges will look at those!

2. Develop effective study habits

Habits take time to develop, so the earlier a student can learn how to study, the better off they will be in high school and college. Effective study habits include:

  • Taking quality notes
  • Eliminating distractions
  • Creating a study plan
  • Keeping track of deadlines
  • Asking for help
  • Getting lots of rest

Additionally, if middle school students learn to read and comprehend text thoughtfully, they’ll be more prepared for high school when classes and grades matter.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Dream

Middle school students should start thinking about the classes they enjoy and those that come more naturally to them. If students enjoy history and literature, they should research careers that include those subjects. If they’re naturally talented in math, they can start taking higher-level math courses to prepare for advanced classes in high school.

4. Start working on Extracurriculars

It’s never too early to volunteer or participate in hobbies and extracurricular activities. If students continue the activity into high school, they can include it in their college applications. Colleges like to see dedication to a particular activity and students who take their volunteer time seriously. Plus, early introduction to an extracurricular usually creates more passion for that activity. The extra experience also helps students land leadership positions as high school students in that activity.

Check out Crimson Careers or Crimson Research Institute for extracurricular opportunities that can help boost your college applications!

Final Thoughts: Do middle school grades matter?

Colleges do not look at middle school grades, but using the middle school years to prepare for high school effectively will help students achieve higher grades and get into their dream colleges. 

Middle school is challenging. It’s a time of adjustment, maturity, and self-awareness. Peer pressure is high, and many students focus primarily on fitting in. Parents can support middle school students by remembering what helped them become successful in high school and college. They can explain why college is important and help their students nurture their interests by encouraging them to stay focused on their goals. 

Crimson Education offers a unique program called Crimson Rise. This personalized, holistic program prepares young students aged 11-14 for the rigors of high school and beyond. Through personal guidance and one-on-one instruction, students can leap ahead of their peers long before beginning the college application process. For more information, book a free consultation! 

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