How do you get into a great college as a B student?

university application file

Whether you're finishing up your junior year of high school or in the final stages of applying to college, the college admissions process can be intimidating if you're a B student — especially if you want to go to an A college. Thankfully, with so many college options and resources out there, you still have the possibility of getting into a great school, even if your grades aren't quite up to A level. Here are three strategies that can help you:

1. Apply to great schools that accept B students

The first thing you need to know is that plenty of excellent colleges accept B, or sometimes even C, students. We're not just talking your local, neighborhood college, either. By browsing the New York Times 2013 acceptance rates list, U.S. News & World Report rankings and Princeton Review, you'll likely find many great colleges you can apply to.

U.S. News & World Report put out a helpful list in 2013 titled "A+ Schools for B Students." While the list grabs from Fall 2012 acceptance rates, not much has changed since then. Here are some schools from that list, which accept between 50 and 78 percent of students:

  • Syracuse University
  • Purdue University
  • Rutgers University
  • Baylor University

Those schools, and many on the list, are ranked in the top 100 colleges in America by U.S. News & World Report. And as a B student, you have a pretty good shot of getting in. Just because the Ivy League might be out of reach, there's no sense in losing hope when so many excellent colleges may take you in with open arms.

2. Beef up those supplemental application materials

It may be too late to drastically change your GPA. But one thing you may still be in control over is the rest of the college application, which likely includes an essay or two and letters of recommendation.

Believe it or not, getting great letters of recommendation is at least a little bit in your hands. While you can't write the letter for them, you can choose the person wisely and give them useful information. Here are some materials you should consider giving your recommender, according to adMISSIONPOSSIBLE founder Marjorie Hansen in a Huffington Post article:

  • High school counseling office questionnaire (your counselor may have one of these)
  • Up-to-date activities resume
  • A college list
  • The recommendation forms
  • Copies of your college application and/or essays

As for writing a killer admissions essay, keep it clear and concise. Don't merely list your accomplishments but hone in on one or two achievements. Have a clear thesis statement, answer all the essay's prompt questions and have a tutor look over it before you send it off.

These additional application materials aren't guarantees, but they can often make the difference when it comes to college acceptance. Give it your best shot, and you might be surprised.

3. Consider a local college now and transfer later

Another option, if you either didn't get into your college or are feeling like your chances are bleak, is to start at a community college or local state school and transfer after a year or two. This way, you can (hopefully) get excellent grades and have a better shot at getting into a highly ranked college as a transfer student.

One thing to keep in mind is that not all colleges accept transfer students. Princeton University, for example, doesn't accept transfer students. Many colleges do, but check first, just to be sure.

When colleges do accept transfers, sometimes the admissions rate is lower than it is for incoming freshmen. Stanford University, for example, accepts between 1 and 4 percent (20-50 students) of transfer applicants, according to its website, compared to 5.7 percent of freshmen it admits.

Some schools actually have lower admissions requirements for transfer students than incoming freshman. The University of Nevada, Reno is a great example of this. To be admitted as an incoming freshman, the required GPA is 3.0. To be admitted as a transfer student, the required GPA is a 2.5.

It all depends where you want to transfer. Transferring may grant you a second chance to make things right and get into the college of your dreams if you didn't the first time around.

Apply to some of those A schools now, as a B student, and see what happens. If you don't get in, even with excellent recommendations and a great admissions essay, then consider the transfer route. Either way, getting into a great college is totally possible, even for B students.


Princeton University, Undergraduate Admission - Eligibility,

The New York Times, 2013 College Acceptance Rates,

"Letters of Recommendation: The Real Icing on Your College Admissions Cake,", Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz, Sept. 30, 2013,

Stanford, Undergraduate Admission, Applicant Profile,