This is the fourth post in a series for parents and members of the high school classes of 2012 and 2013.
Your high school path suddenly takes a detour. Your grades, which had been steady and consistent, take a nosedive. Perhaps its due to illness, personal or family issues, or a learning disability that eventually made itself clear. As you move forward into the summer before your senior year, it is time to consider whether or not this impacts the colleges to which you apply.
For most students, the answer is yes. Sometimes, the circumstances change your mind about how far you would like to be from home. In other cases, illness or other family issues have a financial impact that necessitates finding financial safety schools, or looking first to a nearby community college for a period of time. If your challenges impacted your GPA or course selection, then that also may impact the schools you choose to apply to.
Yes, you will have opportunities to explain your circumstances, and many times, you will meet with a sympathetic reader on the other side of your application. Sympathy, however, does not guarantee admission. Be prepared to discuss your situation. You can do this through your essay, an additional statement, your guidance counselor recommendation or, in some cases, a personal interview on campus with an admission counselor. In most situations, the admissions staff is evaluating your response to the challenge. Did you overcome adversity? What did you learn from the situation? Is the college going to be able to meet any future needs you might have?
In most cases, it is to your benefit to discuss any aberrations in your academic performance. The keys are incorporating your challenges into your college search and then finding the appropriate avenue to explain your record.