For many students, last year was not a great school year. They dealt with school being virtual, hybrid, in-person but socially distanced with masks–or for many– some combination of all of the above depending on COVID cases in their county. Understandably, grades suffered. Its hard to learn chemistry when you can’t do labs or are watching them via zoom.
There are several ways to approach the fact your grades are lower than they might have been. First, do you best this quarter/semester. If you apply this fall, colleges may ask to see your 7th semester (first-semester senior year) grades before they send a decision. Or depending on the school deadline, you could apply in January giving you the opportunity to submit strong senior year grades.
Letters of recommendation can also help your application. Choose teachers who had you prior to the pandemic that can comment on your strong academic achievement in their class. Do not use a teacher you had last year if you tended to have missed assignments, didn’t attend zoom meetings or were disengaged during class. If you had a teacher last year where you did excel or they were an excellent virtual teacher, that could be a good choice.
Many schools will give you the opportunity to write an optional (COVID) essay. Using your essay to explain any legitimate challenges you faced during COVID (you got sick and missed school, you had to help care for siblings while parents worked virtually, your school was not set up for e-learning, you had access issues, etc) may help. If you just choose not to do school work, that will be harder to explain. But if you experienced mental health issues during COVID, you can talk about those. Be sure to share how you got help and how you will prevent those arising in college or how you will deal with those in the future.
It is also helpful to visit colleges either in-person or virtually. Try to schedule a one to one meeting with an admission counselor. They will be able to assess your transcript (bring it with you). They can make recommendations on whether or not to apply or how to strengthen your application.
If your grades are lower but you have good ACT or SAT scores, submit those. They may help.
Please let us know if we can provide any assistance as you navigate the college admissions process.