The college search for “B” students can be different than for “A” students. As a parent, you need to keep certain things in mind in order to help your “B” student conduct a successful college search.
- Strength of schedule/class rigor is most important – A “B” in an honors or AP course is different than a “B” in a standard course. Most colleges view the strength of a high school students schedule as very important. Did the student take advantage of all of the more challenging classes that were available to him/her? A “B” in an honors or AP class can carry more weight to a college admissions rep than an “A” in a standard class because it shows that the student was interested in taking more difficult courses. This can demonstrate that a student is ready for the rigor of college coursework.
- The ACT/SAT score will matter – Most schools still require an ACT or SAT score for admissions, although more and more schools are going “test optional.” Unless your student is looking at test optional schools, the combination of GPA and ACT/SAT score will still be important. A “B” average can look better to admissions officers when coupled with a high ACT or SAT score.
- Merit aid is going to be less available – The largest amounts of merit aid, like those listed in my Full Scholarship List, are generally saved for “A” students with high ACT/SAT scores. Your “B” student is more likely to be offered smaller amounts of merit-based aid. If your family income positions you to not be eligible for need-based aid and you planned to rely on merit aid, you may have to steer your student to look at less competitive colleges. If your “B” student can show class rigor, great extra-curriculars, and a high ACT/SAT score, he or she may find some merit scholarship offers that will make college pretty affordable.
- State schools are a great option – Public universities, especially in your home state, can be a great option for “B” students. They tend to be much more affordable than private colleges, unless you qualify for need-based or merit-based aid. They can also be easier to get into, because they accept a larger percentage of applicants than top-tier private colleges.
- A strong college application is important – The college application is not all about grades and test scores. It is also about great recommendation letters, a well-written essay and a solid activity resume. “B” students need to focus on painting a picture that they can balance a lot of different things and still maintain respectable grades.
The college search for “B” students should focus on reach, target and safety schools. Make sure your student sets himself or herself up as being so much more than a grade point average on paper. He or she needs to show all of the other things that were accomplished while still maintaining a “B” average.
Don’t be discouraged. Use the tips above to figure out what schools and activities to focus on and make sure your student casts a wide net with college applications. There are lots of schools out there that are looking for more than just that perfect GPA and 30+ ACT score. You just may need to dig a little deeper to find them.