In Ivy League admissions, getting great grades in the most challenging curriculum that your high school offers is of great importance. Getting good (but not great) grades in the most challenging curriculum your high school offers often doesn’t cut it. Getting great grades in a curriculum that is not your high school’s most rigorous often doesn’t cut it either. Many times, our students will not only excel in the most challenging curriculum their high school offers, but they’ll choose to take even more AP exams in courses not offered by their school. And they’ll excel on those exams, too!
But this post isn’t about getting great grades in the most challenging curriculum. This post is about grade grubbing and how it can impact your chances for Ivy League admission. In short, don’t grade grub. It jeopardizes your chances for admission. It paints you as unlikeable. It inspires nobody to want to fight for you if the admissions decision is a close call. Highly selective colleges — like the Ivy League colleges — want students who love learning. And they mean that. They want students who want to expand their minds, to learn new things, and to listen to what their classmates have to say because they think it might change their opinions. What they don’t want are students who only care about getting great grades. In life, there aren’t A’s and B’s. And college admissions counselors know this. It’s why they want students who love learning for learning’s sake.
If you’re not sure exactly what grade grubbing is, here’s an example: Bobby got a 92 on his chemistry exam, but he asks his teacher if she can raise it to a 95 so that he can get an A. What explanation does he give? That difference will change his life. If he gets a 92, he won’t get into Princeton. If he gets a 95, he will. This is a classic example of grade grubbing. It’s possible that teacher will feel so guilty for Bobby that she’ll give him a 95, but at what cost? She’s certainly not going to write as glowing of a letter of recommendation as she may have had Bobby not presented himself as someone who cares so very much about his grade. Nobody likes people who care so much about their grades. Be cool about it. Don’t grade grub. It’ll improve your odds of admission to Ivy League colleges.