Boost your GPA, without studying!

You don’t have to be Einstein to get great grades!

First impressions count, even in the classroom. It is the beginning of a new school year, so now is the time to let your teachers know that you are a driven “A student. You must let the teachers know, in September, that you are a “Go Getter”. Some school districts pressure teachers into limiting the number of “A”s awarded. This is known as grade deflation. Therefore, often subconsciously, teachers loosely separate their students into 3 sections; the “A”s,  “B”s, and the “C”s and below.

In the next few weeks, you want to impress your teacher with “A” student qualitiesDo this by arriving on time, sitting in the front, asking questions, and turning in assignments. Be the straggler out of class and ask a few more questions. If you are having trouble with a homework assignment, go to “teacher hours” or send the teacher an email requesting an appointment. Finally, do really well, especially on your first assignments or tests. Okay, so that probably requires studying  – the title lied. 😉

Once you have established a good rapport with your teachers, it is difficult to dumb down your grade. Afterall, you are a conscientious and engaged student! This type of bias may appear when grading an test essay or homework assignment or it may even appear when you go for extra help and the teacher tells you exactly what to study for the upcoming exam. That often happens when you go to extra help!

Review all graded homework and tests to see that it was graded accurately and fairly. You may want to challenge your teacher’s grade or request a “do over” for an assignment to bump up your grade. Most teachers respect the student who comes forward and will often offer them a second chance. That is what learning is all about. Additionally, now the teacher is aware that your grades are important to you.

It’s difficult for a teacher to penalize a student who appears to be putting in extra effort. Thus without even doing a lot more work or studying more, your teacher may unknowingly give your grades a boost. In Elizabeth Wissner-Gross’s book,  What Colleges Don’t Tell You (and Other Parents Don’t Want You to Know) 272 Secrets for Getting your Kid into Top Schools, she dedicates a section to what she calls “Registering for an A”,  or letting the teacher know that you plan to be one of the A students in their class. Many of her themes are clearly explained to help the student perform to the best of their ability and be rewarded accordingly.

Your GPA, is the primary consideration of your college application. Forget about joining a million clubs, you need great grades to help your application. Get the highest grades you can, while taking the most challenging courses such as AP and Honors classes. Next in order of importance are your SAT/ACT scores, then essays. Of less importance are; the teacher recommendations, your demonstrated interest, high school extracurricular activities, work, awards  and special circumstances including your family income. The order of relevance of the last few factors differs from college to college, some schools will give preference to legacy as well.

Great grades are not handed out easily. You are competing with your fellow classmates to be recognized as one of the top students in the class. You may not be the smartest brainiac in the class, nor do you have to be the teacher’s pet. You must earn your grades by demonstrating that you are an engaged student. The bottom line is that you need to let your teachers know, by actively reaching out to them, that you are working for good grades.

Don’t forget to ask GOOD questions!

Editors Note: Originally published  9/2013. We thought it was time to reprint to help your student have a great 2015-16 school  year! 


Tick, Tock…Early Decision or Early Action?


Submitting college applications Early Action is a no brainer. Why? Because this is a non binding application. But sending an application Early Decision is a BIG deal!  Why? Because you are signing a contract that you will attend if accepted.

Early Action or EA means that you submit the application for usually a November 1st or November 15th deadline and then Admissions will notify you in mid-December  whether you have been accepted, deferred, or rejected and need to find another favorite college. Additionally, EA applicants are usually considered for merit scholarships  which is completely different from the financial aid that is based on need. Essentially the school, with no consideration to you financial need, may say “Gee, you super and we really, really want you to come to our college. You qualify for Merit award!” :)

Take advantage of schools that offer Early Action and submit the majority of your applications by this deadline. There are no limits to the amount of Early Action applications you may submit.

Submitting an application Early Decision is more like a marriage proposal. You are professing your love for the college. Basically saying “College, if you accept me I am yours…  till death do us part…” A hard decision for an 17 or 18-year-old make.

You can only apply to one college Early Decision (ED). It is a binding decision, usually due Nov 1st or 15th and the only circumstances which will release you from an ED acceptance is if the school’s financial aid offer is incompatible with the family’s financial situation. Thus if you apply ED and require financial aid, be sure to disclose that need. ED’s require that you, your parents and guidance counselor sign a ED contract saying that if you are accepted, you will attend and you will retract all other applications. Your ED school is your absolute favorite.

Although most colleges follow these aforementioned deadlines, each college is different so be sure read each college application requirements. There are other types of application deadlines and restrictions which are discussed below.

JACKPOT!  You have  been accepted to your Early Decision school AND you simultaneously are accepted to EA schools who are offering you a big Merit Scholarship… bye-bye scholarships. You signed the contract for Early Decision to your favorite college. This is the primary reason why you would not want to apply ED. However, your ED school may still offer you a financial package.

Why would anyone submit an ED Application? The best reason, besides getting the whole process completed, is because if you are applying to a very selective school your chances of being accepted are far greater with an ED application vs. Early Action or regular admission.

For example check out the 2012 acceptance rate :

College            ED Accept Rate          Regular Decision Rate

Lehigh              63%                             32%

J, Hopkins        30%                             17%

Colgate             51%                             26%

Dartmouth       25%                             7%

U Penn             25%                             9%

Duke                25%                             11%

Note that many ED accepted students then often worry, the rest of their senior year, if they made the right decision. A little buyer’s remorse could kick in.

A few more application deadline terms, that are not so widely used:

Restrictive Early Action — If you applied ED to a school, then you cannot apply Early Action to this school (i.e. Boston College).
Restrictive Early Decision — If you apply ED you cannot send  EA applications to other schools (i.e. Brown).
Single Action, Early Action – For example: Yale, unlike Brown, is a non binding EA application, but you still cannot apply to others schools.
Rolling Admissions Early Decision  –  send in Sepembert and you may know a few weeks later. Binding. Example: Wake Forest
Early Decision Round II – Still an Early Decision application that is binding, just sent in later around usually Jan 15.  One reason a school may offer this is to pick up highly qualified students who may have been rejected by their first choice school.

Don’t apply where everyone else is applying

Diversity of a college’s student population is admission’s office dream. Students from Utah? Yes!  Iowa – even better! New York/New Jersey/Connecticut?  wa wa wa…. no thanks…

Okay, don’t bum-out you oh-so-cool NY metropolitan students, but realize there are THOUSANDS of you!!!

If you are from NJ and everyone from your high school is applying to University of Delaware,  remember “Everyone from your high school is applying there!” Why is UDel going to give you a Merit Scholarship  of $5,ooo when you SATs are just above the average UDel student? Now take your stats and go college shopping in Florida, where your stats are above the avg FLA student, and you might hear “Heck come on down! We think you are great (since you are from NJ) and will offer a $12,000 scholarship and accept all your AP credits”. It’s been known to happen. :)