Question: What constitutes a slip in grades worthy of an explanation? My son--a high school junior--had major surgery over spring break that resulted in great pain and an immobilized right hand (his writing hand) for six weeks. No accomodations were made at his highly competitive prep school. His unweighted GPA--usually a high A--has slipped one or two points. He wants to apply to some very competitive colleges. Does he need to account for the minor drop? How does he do so?

This is a bit of sticky issue because you do want to let college admission committees know that your son had an extra burden to bear this spring, but--on the other hand--he will be evaluated amidst a pool of other applicants who have battled leukemia, lived in homeless shelters, or survived the death of parents. In this era that has spawned what I call "The Jerry-Springerization-of-the-college-admission-essay," you don't want to play the personal-hardship trump card and have it come up short when compared to other contenders.

Keep reading Show less