Get our weekly advice

Keep up-to-date with the latest advice from Finish College.

Is My GPA Too Low to Go Back to School?

Ana-Marcela Lopez

If you have a less-than-perfect academic record, you might wonder whether your GPA is too low to even try going back to school. But don’t worry! It’s not too low. While you may not meet the requirements for certain schools, there are other great schools or different approaches you can take. Every situation is different, so take the following steps to overcome a low GPA and get back to school. 

Do Your Research

The first step is to research which school is right for you. Every institution will have different requirements that you’ll need to know about before you apply. Create a short list of schools that have the program you want and whose admissions requirements you can meet. While it is important to be realistic, you don’t need to be discouraged if you find that you don’t meet some requirements. There are other ways you can get to your dream school. 

Explore Your Options

The path to a degree is not always linear, so take advantage of the different directions you can take. Whether you take a few courses at a community college to boost your GPA or present at a conference to stand out, there are so many options available. 

  • Community College: If your GPA is too low for your dream school, consider going to a community college first. Taking general education courses at a community college is not only a great way to save money, but also to boost your GPA. Your success in community college will demonstrate to an admissions team that you are committed to success.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  • Field Experience: A great way to bolster your application is to seek out relevant field experience. Research any internships, research opportunities, or assistantships that may boost your résumé. You can also get your work published or present at a conference to make a standout application. 

Make a Plan

The great thing about going back to college is that you aren’t starting from scratch. You’ll have already earned credits that count toward your degree, and your prior experience can help you return to school with foundational knowledge. Since you are essentially picking up from where you left off, It’s important to know what led you off the path to your degree in the first place. Think about the obstacles you faced when you were in school, and create a plan to overcome them if they arise again. Establish a support system of friends, family, or colleagues so that you have people to lean on when things get tough. Faculty and staff at your institution are another great resource. They want to see you succeed as much as you do, so meet with professors and advisors when you need help.


The application process will take time and effort, as you need to present yourself with proof that you will be a successful student. Your essay can actually be a great opportunity to explain any extenuating circumstances that contributed to your lower grades. And even if you don’t have an explanation, your essay can outline your goals, how you plan to achieve them, and your overall sincerity and commitment. A thoughtful essay can convince an admissions counselor to take a chance on you regardless of your low GPA. Letters of recommendation can be instrumental, too! Ask a past professor or employer to write a letter describing your work ethic and dedication. Grades aren’t always the best reflection of your ability to achieve, so use these letters to leverage those who have seen how valuable you are.

It is an inescapable fact that grades are important in higher education, but a low GPA doesn’t have to ruin your chances at getting the degree you deserve. Want to know where to start looking? Abound: Finish College narrows down your options and gets you in touch with schools that we can confirm are Accessible, Affordable, Accelerated, and Advanced. We trust our schools to see the potential you can bring to the classroom and the success you can find on your path to a degree.


More Helpful Guides:

What is an Adult Degree Completion Program?

Will My Previously Earned Credits and Coursework Transfer

Should I Finish College?

How Can I Tell if a Degree Program is Legitimate or a Scam?

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links to products and services. We may receive commissions for purchases made through these links.

Get our weekly advice

Keep up-to-date with the latest advice from Finish College.