The College Puzzle Blog
Prior PostingsAbout
Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

Most Recent Blog
::Online Tutoring for High School and College Succes...>
::High School Graduation Requirements Increase; But ...>
::College Going CultureIn Secondary Schools #3>
::College Going Culture in Secondary Schools#2>
::What does a secondary school with collge-going cul...>
::Acheive the College Dream Expands to 83 Community ...>
::Randomized Trials Provide What Works For College S...>
::State Scholarships Can Inhibit Challenging Course ...>
::Community College Students Do Not Get Federal Fina...>
::Declining Students Could Cause Decline in Academic...>


My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

Getting Into College Without Good Grades: Guest Blogger

As funny as it may sound, when I was growing up nobody ever bothered mentioning to me about the importance of having good grades… I kid you not.

Maybe I was just the product of bad counseling or maybe while they were mentioning grades, I just wasn’t listening. But now that I have my own children and now that my oldest is preparing to enter college, I am very glad that they have not inherited my early bad habits.

Ever since my kids could understand what we were saying to them, my wife and I have stressed to them that scholarships are the rewards for having good grades (and good test scores).

Good Grades - Enjoying the Price
Whoever said that you have to pay the price for good grades had it all wrong. I am thoroughly convinced that you do not pay the price for good grades - You enjoy the price of having good grades. This is especially true during the college application process. You pay the price for not having good grades.

Is College For You?
The first thing you need to do is face some real truths… Why were your grades not as good? Was it because you spent too much of your time goofing off? Or, did you just struggle to do the work?

Goofing off, that was my problem when I was in high school. On days when I wanted to get it done, I did. But on the days when I just didn’t feel like giving it my all I didn’t. As a result, my 4 years of high school were a lesson in under achievement, full of C’s, D’s and some F’s. I learned the hard way that a 1.8 GPA won’t get you accepted in many schools.

Let’s face it, if neither English nor math nor science were subjects you liked and if high school was a struggle for you and it wasn’t because you didn’t apply yourself, then just maybe college is not for you. However, fear not, to borrow a phrase from an old friend of mine “That don’t make you a bad man” (English wasn’t his best subject) you do have some alternatives.

Not so good Grades but can do better
So you didn’t hit the books as well as you should have. Fear not, all is not lost. There are still plenty of options available to you. First and foremost, you may have to pass on some colleges with tighter admission requirements if you still want to attend a 4-year college or university.

You may want to consider enrolling at a local 2-year community college where you can begin to discipline yourself to study and perform at a level that a college student should be performing at. This will allow you time to really find out if college is for you and will allow you to do it at a much cheaper price.

If after spending time at a 2-year college you are able to get your study and work habits on track, then you can transfer to a 4-year college or university to continue your education.

College is Not Quite Me
Far too many high-schoolers allow their parents or peer pressure from friends to pushed them into enrolling into college, when they simply did not have it in them. What usually happens to these kids is that they wind up doing poorly and flunking out or just dropping out after a few semesters.

But Don’t I Need A 4 Year College Education?
Is a 4 year degree absolutely necessary? Not really, the fact of the matter is that there are millions of people who are enjoying successful lives and earning good salaries who do not have a 4 year degree. The key to obtaining gainful employment is not a degree, but having skills that are in demand.

Alternatives to 4 Years of College
You do not need to earn a 4 year degree, but you may have to take some courses. However, this need not be done at a large college or university. You can explore the following:

Be Encouraged
Under no circumstances should you give up. Continue to work to find out what you are good at. Everybody is an expert at something. With a little extra effort you can do it. Good Luck!

Johnny and His wife Helena are the authors of the website: College
>Tidbits. You can find more of their articles by visiting
> or by sending an email to

Copyright 2006 My College Puzzle