Do Colleges Look At Freshman Year Grades?

College applications are an important part of your college journey. You have to make sure that you have the right information and the best grades to apply to the right schools. One of the most common questions that people ask is whether or not colleges look at freshman-year grades.

So, what exactly determines whether or not you get accepted? The answer is- a lot of factors. Colleges don’t just look at your grades from freshman year. They also look at your GPA, SAT and ACT scores, extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation.

But, if you are wondering whether colleges look at the grades of your freshman year at school, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will give you a rundown of all the colleges that consider freshman-year grades as a part of their admission process and those that do not. We would further give you some pro tips on how you could compensate for lacking grades. So read along to find more. 

Do Colleges look at freshman-year grades?

The harsh truth is: yes! Pretty much all colleges look at your freshman-year grades while reviewing your college application. Every now and then, people, especially seniors will come and offer you some advice, however, your freshman year grades do matter and it is important to keep your grades up. If you are having trouble with your grades. Although there are some exceptions to it, you shouldn’t feel relieved by that news, because those schools have another form of rigorous admission criteria that could pretty much leave you ineligible anywhere. 

So these are the colleges that consider your freshman grades:

  1. Harvard University: Harvard has a rigorous admission criterion that takes into account your extracurriculars, SAT scores, interests, essay, letter of recommendation, achievements, as well as your academic performance from 9-12 grade. And it just doesn’t end there. They also conduct an interview with the applicant to know them better.
  2. Arizona State University: The university specifically states that you need to fall under the top 25% of your high school graduating class in order to be applicable for their admission. Moreover, They also require a minimum ACT score of 22 and SAT score of 1120.
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: The institute put strict emphasis on your GPA and SAT score. You need to be one of the top performers in these fields to be considered an application for their admission. 
  4. New York University: NYU requires you to have a shining 1510 SAT score or a 34 ACT score. You should also have a 3.69 GPA or higher. And if your GPA falls short of the specified GPA, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score.
  5. Columbia University: Columbia looks at a cumulative grade of your performance from 9-12 grade. Moreover, they require their students to score 1560 on SAT or a 35 ACT score. If your grades aren’t enough, then you need to have a higher SAT/ACT score to make up for the low grades.

List of colleges in the US that do not look for freshman-year grades

There are a few myths regarding the freshman year of high school, and one of them is that all colleges consider your freshman year grades before giving you admission into their university. Your grades matter because they show colleges that you can handle the workload and keep your head in the game. They also indicate that you are a hard worker, which is an important trait to have at any university.

The following schools do not consider your freshman grade as a part of the admission criteria:

  1. University of California: All the schools of the University of California calculates a student’s average grade point without taking the freshman-year grades into consideration. But it should be noted that while your grades don’t matter to them, they do look at your choice of courses in Freshman year. 
  2. Princeton University: Rather than just looking at your freshman year grade, this school has a more rigorous form of admission criteria in place. Rather than just basing your admission on your grades, they consider the story behind your high school experience by evaluating everything you did in your high school. 
  3. Stanford University: While they do require an official transcript of your grades from 9-12 grades, they only consider your grade from the sophomore year onwards. So, if you are planning to apply for Stanford with a low freshman-year grade, then you should be carefree, and just try your luck!
  4. McGill University: Another addition to the list. McGill University does consider your grades. While they do want to see your whole academic record, they usually give a higher weight to your SAT and ACT scores when it comes to giving admissions. 

If you haven’t scored well, how can you compensate?

If you scored poorly on your freshman year grades, there are things you can do to try to make up for it. The first step is to find a tutor or a study group and get some extra help with your classes. You could also try studying more this summer than usual by reading the textbook cover-to-cover and making flashcards for vocabulary words. If none of those work, find another school that fits your needs better. Maybe they have smaller class sizes or more available resources for students who need extra help.

Another option is community service. Volunteering at a local nursing home or animal shelter will give you some experience working with older adults who may not be able to live independently anymore. This kind of volunteer work could show colleges that even though there isn’t anything on paper showing what kind of person they are yet, they’re willing and able to help others in need when given an opportunity too.

Finally, if all else fails, try getting higher grades during the sophomore year so that by the time applications open again then these bad grades won’t necessarily matter anymore because there will be newer ones via AP courses taken during high school.


If you are paranoid about your grades and often wonder what would happen if you fail a particular class or summer school, then do not worry! The High Schooler would have an answer to each and every confusion of yours! If you are nervous about your grades, there are some things that you can do to help improve them. First, don’t panic. There is still plenty of time before college applications come out and you need to keep working hard so that when they do come out they look great. 

Second, talk with your parents or another adult who has been through the process before so they can help guide you through what needs improving in each subject area: English Writing Skills, Grammar Writing Skills, and Vocabulary. And finally, all the very best! You are heading towards a new life. Enjoy the journey!

Leave a Comment