Can I put middle school achievements on my college application?

If you’re a high school student in the process of applying to college, there are lots of decisions to make along the way: where to apply, what to write about in your essays, and what activities and achievements to include in your applications, among many others. College applications are designed to provide a comprehensive picture of each student; you are asked to provide a significant amount of information about yourself and your experiences during high school. In doing so, you should aim to put your best foot forward and highlight your most noteworthy commitments and accomplishments. As you’re considering what to include, you might be wondering, “can you put middle school achievements on a college application?”

Can I put middle school achievements on my college application? | Image

As a general rule, the answer to this question is “no.” Achievements from before high school aren’t relevant to the college admissions process; the middle school years are simply too far in the past to provide any value in terms of assessing a student’s readiness for college. The Common Application (and any other application you might fill out, such as the Coalition Application or a school-specific application) does not even allow the option for students to list activities from before 9th grade.

On a related note, some students worry about their grades in middle school and whether a low grade during those years could hurt their chances of being admitted to their dream school. Again, the short answer here is “no!” The middle school transcript is not included in your college applications, and colleges do not consider grades from this time period. So don’t panic if you received a “C” in math in 6th grade!

However, there are some very limited exceptions where you might consider including something that occurred during your middle school years- these are outlined below. If your situation doesn’t fall into one of these categories, it’s best to leave it out.

Middle School Achievements that may be worth including on your college application:

Lifelong Activity:

If you have pursued a meaningful activity since before high school (for example, Boy Scouts or playing piano), you should mention that. Because you are only able to select 9th grade and beyond when indicating the years of participation for their activities, you should mention your extended time of involvement in the description of that activity instead. The other related exception would be if you participated in something at the high school level when you were in middle school (such as playing for the high school soccer team while in 8th grade). This demonstrates consistency, commitment, and a high level of achievement.

Advanced Coursework:

As mentioned above, your middle school coursework will not be included in your college application. The only exception here is the extremely rare case where a student completed advanced high-school-level coursework in middle school, such as calculus. This is highly unusual (most students don’t take calculus until at least their junior year of high school), but if you are a student who is very advanced in math, it would be relevant to show that you completed calculus before 9th grade. Because that course won’t be listed on your high school transcript, you can indicate in the “Additional Information” section that you took calculus in middle school.

Significant Life Event:

While this doesn’t fall into the category of “achievements,” it’s important to note as something that may be applicable for some students. If you experienced a serious, life-altering event in middle school, such as the death of an immediate family member, that can absolutely be relevant to mention in your application. The “Additional Information” section is a good place to include this, along with any explanation of the impact of the event. However, if it’s already the subject of an essay or discussed elsewhere, there is no need to mention it a second time.

It’s Usually Best to Focus on High School Years

Very few students will have circumstances that fall into one of these categories, so consider carefully whether these exceptions apply to you. Remember, your focus while filling out college applications should be to emphasize your most significant involvement and achievements from your four years of high school.

We hope this article has helped you understand more about what should (and shouldn’t) be included in your college application. If you feel you still need help in deciding what to share in your applications, consider working with an experienced admissions consultant who will be able to provide more personalized guidance. Contact us for more information!

All of our blog posts are written by Former College Admission Officers who serve as members of our admission consultant team.

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