4. Start at a community college: For students without the academic background for a four-year institution, admissions officials recommend attending a community college for at least a year. That's especially true if students need to catch up on developmental course work.
"Community colleges are better prepared to handle that and get the student up to that level playing field so they can transfer to a four-year university," says Jeff Fuller, director of student recruitment at the University of Houston.
Students who take this route should maintain a perfect grade point average, Fuller adds.
Admissions officials want to make sure applicants will be able to thrive in college. Students with low grades will need to prove that their past poor grades aren't indicative of who they are now and their capabilities as a college student.
"The F will always be on their transcript. But like everything in the college admissions process, students that show that they can overcome either adversity, academic preparation, whatever it may be – those are great telling signs for a student's perseverance and persistence towards graduation," Fuller says.
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