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Do 8th Grade Classes Matter for College Admissions?

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Applying to college can be an exhausting process because it asks you to synthesize everything you have done throughout high school and present it in a neat package to college admissions committees. Grades, writing ability, extracurricular activities, and test scores must be distilled and rolled together into the Common App and your supplemental application materials and carted off to schools around the country that will decide whether or not to admit you. Most likely you are wondering, what will they be looking for?

Time span is certainly factors into this last question, for it is important to know not only what a college admissions committee looks for in application materials but also how far back into your past they will to search to find it. With the question of grades, this issue becomes especially pertinent, since your school has been tracking your grades for as long as you have been attending. If you are wondering how much weight your classes and academic performance from eighth grade will affect your college admissions offer, read this article for a rundown!


Transcript Matters

The first thing to consider when determining whether or not your grades and class schedule from eighth grade will matter for your college admissions decision is whether or not this information will be available to adcoms reading your application. If your eighth grade course load and scores will not be on your high school transcript, you obviously have nothing to worry about.

You should also keep in mind that, even if your high school does elect to include your grades from eighth grade on your transcript, this is usually only for certain classes such as advanced, honors, or AP classes.


Subtle Effects of Your 8th Grade Performance

If your 8th grade performance is available on your high school transcript, it is important to remember that these grades are not meaningless, as they are the platform from which you enter freshman year of high school. Naturally, that is a point of interest for adcoms. To a certain extent, your academic performance immediately before high school will have some bearing on the class placement you will receive in your freshman year, and thus can play a small role in shaping your high school career. That said, this effect is definitely a small one, and it is certainly possible to redeem yourself if your grades are not quite up to par in eighth grade or even freshman year.

The idea here is that lower grades in eighth and even ninth grade are completely understandable and even excusable so long as you can demonstrate that your grades have steadily improved since then; this is because college admissions officers understand that entering high school is a transition wrought with stress and unprecedented amounts of change. You are thus granted a bit of a grace period to find your footing.

On the most micro level, we should acknowledge that eighth grade performance could sometimes affect your class rank in high school if you continue to study at the same school, and this is a measurement that adcoms take into consideration when they are evaluating your application. In rare cases, a B in middle school could prevent you from being valedictorian even if you receive straight A’s in high school, but the likelihood of this occurring and you being able to trace your GPA back to a single class grade from middle school is fairly low, so don’t stress out if you’re worried about this situation applying to you.


Most Important: A Healthy Dose of Perspective

Though your grades in eighth grade can certainly influence your initial introduction to high school and set you up for success if they are particularly strong, weaker grades from your eighth grade classes are certainly not the end of your college dreams. Vital in the college admissions process is being able to show substantive improvement throughout your years in high school, and your college applications are a forum in which you can creative a narrative about yourself—your aspirations, your goals, and your ability to grow and continually improve yourself.

Barring extremes, there is virtually no way to completely ruin your chances at achieving your college dreams by getting a few bad grades in eighth grade. With that in mind, it’s best to approach your studies with energy and commitment at any and every point in your schooling career. From there, the rest will come easily!

Interested in getting guidance that will help you set up your high school years for success? Learn about our mentorship program for high school students.


Meanwhile, if you are looking for more information about your grades and how they will affect your application, check out the following posts:


Do Schools Take Grade Inflation/Deflation into Account?

What if My School Doesn’t Offer AP or IB Courses?

Will Failing a Class Impact My College Application?


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Lily Calcagnini
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Lily is a History and Literature concentrator at Harvard University who is doing her darnedest to write a thesis about all of her favorite things at once: fashion, contemporary culture, art journalism, and Europe. A passionate learner, she cares deeply about helping high school students navigate the process of college admissions, whether it be through private essay tutoring or sharing advice on the CollegeVine blog.