Is it better to earn a low grade in a difficult class or a high grade in an easy one?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,136
    Jerome Cole, Director of College Counseling at the Edmund Burke School in Washington D.C., discusses if it’s better to earn a lower grade in a more difficult class or take the less difficult course and earn a higher grade to increase your GPA.

    Jerome A. Cole, MA

    Jerome A. Cole, M.A., is the Director of College Counseling for the Edmund Burke school in Washington, D.C. and the founder of Cole Educational Consulting Services (Cole ECS.) He has worked with students and families for over seven years to help them plan and strategize for college. As a college counselor at Burke, an independent college preparatory high school founded in 1968, Mr. Cole oversees a program that is designed to support students and families as they go through the selection and admission process for college. Mr. Cole advises over 100 students each year in a small academically challenging environment where every senior is expected to apply to and enroll in college. Prior to Burke, he was a school counselor at Bethesda-Chevy Chase high school in Montgomery County, Maryland. He has successfully counseled hundreds of students and helped them prepare for admission to a variety of schools such as: American University, Clark-Atlanta University, Davidson College, George Washington University, Harvard University, Pitzer College, Stanford University, Temple University, and the University of Maryland at College Park, to highlight just a few. He established the consulting firm Cole ECS to provide students and families with the necessary information and support to make the best choice for college. Cole ECS defines the best choice as the optimal learning and social environment to ensure a student’s holistic success, culminating in on-time or early graduation and desirable post-graduate options. Mr. Cole earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Catholic University, and then went on to obtain a Master of Arts in Education and Human Development from George Washington University. He is certified as a school counselor and is a member of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC).

    Host: Is the best strategy to take an advanced course and possibly, earn a lower grade or take the less difficult course and earn a higher grade and increase your GPA?

    Jerome Cole: I think that what students and families want to look at when they are trying to decide between a higher level course versus a lower level course is, the focus should be on the following. You want to challenge yourself; you want to demonstrate to the colleges that you are trying to stretch yourself, that's the first part, but the second part that s just as important is that you have to be successful in those courses.

    If I had to choose between taking an advanced level course and getting say like, a grade of C or B, as opposed to taking a lower level course and getting maybe an A or a B, I think I would take the former. I think I would take that more advanced level course and get that C or B and be very happy in that and demonstrate to the colleges that I am taking on that challenge, I have got rigor in my course load and I am being successful in it.

    So, I think the answer is take that higher level course, but make sure that you are going to be successful in that course.

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