Preparing for College

Should Son With Low GPA Leave Rigorous High School?

Question: My son currently attends a very pricey and academically rigorous private school. He will be a junior in the fall and for the last two years his grade point average has not been higher than a 2.0. I have been very tempted to move him to another school that is less challenging. The problem is he does not want to leave, and my husband feels that, although his grade point average is very low, college admissions boards will take into consideration the fact that he came from an challenging college preparatory high school when they assess his eligibility. I would greatly appreciate your non-bias opinion.

As long as your son wants to stay at his current school and the cost of it isn’t putting ramen noodles on your dinner table every night, I see no compelling reason to move him.

If the situation were different … i.e., if your son felt miserable at school … that would be a whole other story. But it sounds as if he’s made peace with his situation.

Colleges do evaluate students in the context of their school environment. If your son were to transfer to a less rigorous high school and then earned better grades, the admission folks would note that his improvement was due to the move. So it seems unlikely that a transfer would have much impact (or even ANY impact) on his college outcomes.

The only problem you might face down the road is that some public colleges (or programs within a college) may have a minimum GPA for entrance. Your son might achieve that GPA at an easier high school but probably won't at his current one. But I'd guess that the odds are small that he will encounter this particular barrier.

It seems that your son has already figured out what a lot of students (and, especially parents) can’t: Not every kid will be an A (or even a B) student. Thus, if your son is happy and engaged where he is, I vote to keep him there.

(posted 6/7/2012)