My High School GPA Didn’t Define My College GPA

After graduation a couple of days ago, I came back home from school. While moving back in, I saw that I needed to clean out the old stuff in my room to make space for my new belongings.

During the sorting, moving, and throwing away of my old junk, I found a high school report card at the bottom of my bookshelf. Of course, I stopped cleaning and checked it out.

What I discovered shocked me. And it inspired me to share the insight with you.

High School Grades

But, before we get to the report card results, I need to set up background information.

Most of you probably only know me as the ambitious guy who writes about success. However, in high school, schoolwork came last on my priority list. I valued basketball, a social life, girls, working out, sleep, movies, tv, videogames, and other things all above school.

Rarely did I do homework outside of school hours. Instead, I used homeroom, free bell, lunch, and class time to complete homework, study for exams, write papers, and do projects.

I knew my plan for school had its flaws, but I valued short-term entertainment much higher than school, and I became comfortable with the adrenaline rush of getting it done last minute.

Also, I thought that because my high school had a well-respected reputation (I think one year we sent the most amount of kids in the country to Notre Dame), I could afford to slack off with mediocre grades. And I believed that my college admissions process would go fine.

Now that I’ve given you more information, it’s time for my report card. Below are my grades from my junior year of high school.

high school GPA doesn't define college GPA

Three grades in the 70s and not a single true A (the 92% was an A- and in Christian Morality—which is supposed to be an easy A for most people). Looking back, I’m kind of surprised my grades weren’t worse.

My college admission process didn’t go great or terrible, but I surely wasn’t the guy with 8 spectacular offers including scholarships. Because of my lack of effort in high school, applying to colleges and hearing if I was accepted or denied turned into a stressful process.

I wish that I worked harder so I had more power in deciding my future college. Also, I’m left without any closure of what my grades and college admissions process could have been like if I gave better effort to my academic work in high school.

College Grades

As you might know, my mindset toward school drastically changed in college. I took the same competitive drive that I used in high school basketball and transferred it to college academics.

Why? Well I knew I wanted to be successful to give myself as many options as possible for post-grad (and not repeat my college admissions). And starting strong is crucial to academic success.

So, my goal changed from passing by academically in high school, to making school my top priority in college.

With a new mindset, willpower, and work ethic, I achieved a cumulative GPA over 3.95 in four years of college. This contrast in grades from high school to college is striking in itself—and more so when you consider that my college classes were significantly harder than high school classes.

This personal example is another reason why I’m convinced that success is all about effort and continued practice when things are difficult.

Last Words

This post’s intention is to show that incoming freshmen and underclassmen can relatively achieve what they want in college academically, regardless of their high school performance.

The contrast from my high school GPA to college GPA isn’t designed as an arrogant move to say “look at me now”—because I know that my grade point average realistically becomes less important each day after graduation (see the post Does GPA Matter In College? 5 Reasons It’s Secondary for more information on this). It’s to say look what you can do, if you want to.

I wanted to go to Harvard Law School during my early years in college, so this drove me to desire a high GPA. I then went out and accomplished it. I didn’t let my high school performance affect my belief about getting As in college, and it worked for my benefit. I’m positive that if I let my high school GPA define me as a student, then I would let those bad habits repeat themselves in my college courses.

Similarly, I believe you can focus on what you want to achieve in college and accomplish it—even if your past doesn’t show strong signs of you accomplishing it, or you recently had a bad semester.

If you desire academic success, I recommend the posts the Chip Away Strategy, focused preparation, and how to write an effective paper.

Readers, comment below on: Do you believe that our own thoughts are our worst enemy? Have you let a high school identity define you? What do you want to achieve and why?

Brian Robben

Brian Robben is the founder of Take Your Success, a site dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs grow a profitable business and reach freedom. For in-depth training, visit: