The middle school experience is different for everyone, in much the same way that high school means different things for different people. While some people consider middle school a time of growth, others simply find it awkward and chaotic.
Through it all, students have to maintain good grades as they leave the simple teachings of elementary school behind and journey forward in preparation for high school. Does middle school matter for college or anything else beyond high school, though?The truth is that, yes, middle school matters! Grades matter in indirect ways for many reasons. They are important because they can help shape your high school curriculum and ultimately help determine your college courses. The more appropriate question would be, “How do middle school grades matter?”
Do Middle School Grades Matter to College Admissions Staff?
Strictly speaking, many people wonder, “Do middle school grades matter for college admissions decisions?”
The answer here is no. Not really — not if the question is whether colleges look at middle school grades. Generally, people asking this question wonder how essential good grades in middle school are to convince college admission teams to accept their college applications.
Universities don’t consider a student’s middle school grades when evaluating their college applications. The information they receive about the student’s high school career is sufficient for them to make decisions.
However, this does not mean that middle school students shouldn’t care about their grades; they absolutely should, and it’s important to understand why.
Why Do Middle School Grades Matter?
Just because those grades don’t impact college admissions chances for a student doesn’t mean they don’t matter, because they do. They are vital in several ways.
They Are a Crucial Point of Intervention
The grades students receive during their middle school academic careers are meant to gauge how well they grasp concepts on a more advanced level than what elementary school requires. Some students show remarkable academic growth between the sixth and eighth grades, and others decline.
Students who struggle to earn good GPAs in middle school are even more likely to struggle in high school, which can impact their chances of gaining entry into college. Therefore, low middle school grades can signal to teachers and parents that a student needs academic intervention to succeed.
This intervention can come in many different forms. The one that is best for the student depends on various factors. Intervention can be in the form of tutoring, getting extra help in a group setting after or during school, or changing classes.
They Serve as an Indication of a Student’s Strengths and Weaknesses
Generally, the grades students achieve in middle school indicate the subjects in which they have a high level of comprehension. Grades can also indicate which subjects students may need extra support to master topics.
When students find a particular subject interesting, they are typically engaged to a high level and achieve high grades in those classes. Homework may be challenging, but if the students enjoy it, this becomes evident with high test scores and class grades.
The grades they receive can open doors to multiple opportunities, including special academic, extracurricular activities or higher-level classes, such as honors or advanced courses.
By the time students begin high school, they may already know which subjects they want to pursue as a career and which ones they have no interest in. So do middle school grades matter, or just the middle school experience?
Does Middle School Matter for College?
Yes, middle school matters for college. Do middle school grades matter for college admissions? It depends on how a person looks at it.
Speaking in a literal sense, when a high school student applies to a college for admission, that college does not require the student to submit copies of their middle school transcripts or grade reports. So no, colleges do not look at middle school grades to determine whether to accept students for admission.
That said, middle school grades do matter indirectly.
Similar to how middle school grades can pave the way for advancement and more challenging courses for some students in high school, they can do the same for students heading to college.
As stated, middle school grades can indicate a student’s level of comprehension of a subject and interest in it. As this comprehension and interest are nurtured and supported during high school, the student might consider a career involving that subject. To reach that career, they would need to choose a college that offers degrees relating to that subject or field.
If a child’s middle school grades are above average in a subject they’re interested in, but the student is not supported or given opportunities to explore that subject further, the chance to cultivate that interest into a career might be lost.
It all begins with middle school grades and how they indicate a student’s strengths and interests. In this way, middle school does matter for college.
How Middle School Influences How Students Grow into College Students
In middle school, endless factors can influence a child’s traits, talents, struggles, values, and insights — all of the characteristics that colleges consider during the college application process.
The middle school experience cultivates the type of person a student can grow to become by influencing:
- How students develop their time management skills
- The way study habits and techniques develop
- A student’s communication skills
In addition, the way a student navigates and interacts with their community is also often shaped during grades 6-8. During this time, students are exposed to hobbies and activities directly or indirectly through acquaintances, community clubs, and friends. They often begin volunteer work, either in the community or within the school, too. They can even begin exploring potential career paths.
What Do Colleges Look For in College Applications?
Colleges take into consideration more than just academics when the admission teams go over student applications. They seek students who are involved with their communities, those who show leadership skills, and those who aren’t afraid to work hard to overcome challenges.
While these qualities are explored and used during high school, they begin developing in middle school. What are some other high school traits and characteristics colleges look for in student applications?
Expressing Information Through Writing
Almost every college application includes writing prompts that students must answer. The specific prompts vary by school but can include questions about how a student solved a difficult problem in their lives or why they want to attend that specific school.
These prompts give college admissions staff members an inside look at what kind of person the student is beyond the numbers — beyond the test scores, grades, and GPAs.
These prompts, often called essays, can be short-answer essays, long-form writings, or even single-sentence answers, depending on the college. Personal statements are also a necessary part of the college application. Their purpose is for the student to relay any information they want the college to know about them (outside of academics) that they aren’t able to express elsewhere on their application.
The Numbers: Grade Point Average
It’s common knowledge that colleges look at a student’s high school grade point average. However, people may not know that not all colleges weigh the importance of GPAs the same.
In other words, some colleges consider GPA an extremely important factor in their admission decisions, while others only consider it somewhat important. Others may hardly consider GPA at all.
GPA isn’t the only academic information colleges look at, though. They also look at students’ grades in the courses they took. In addition, most colleges pay close attention to the difficulty level of the classes. They want to see students who don’t shy away from a challenge and take the most challenging courses.
Although middle school test scores will never reach the eyes of college admissions staff members, standardized test scores taken during high school often do. In other words, colleges often look at students’ SAT, ACT, and AP test scores.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most colleges considered test scores extremely important in decision-making. Now many, if not most, have adopted a “test-optional” or “test-blind” approach to the scores.
This means that students can still submit scores if they believe they will help with college admissions, but doing so is not required. Not submitting scores to these colleges will not penalize students in any way.
Students begin shaping their test-taking skills in middle school, which is another reason that middle school is important.
From Middle School to High School to College
Because middle school prepares a student for high school and high school prepares them for college, it makes sense to say that middle school prepares students for college, too. So many vital skills and attributes are established and shaped during middle school that can stay with a student for their whole lives.
So does middle school matter for college? Remember that middle school experiences matter, but middle school grades do not.