How Bad is a C on a College Transcript?

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So, you’ve got a C in your latest class. The course’s material was too difficult, the professor wasn’t very good or teaching, or maybe you just didn’t care enough to get a higher grade. In any case, if you found this article, then you are likely worried about how this will look on your transcript. How will a C grade affect your registration for next semester? Will you have to repeat the class?

In this article, we will explain what getting a C means for your college transcript and whether Cs really get degrees.

Understanding the Grading SystemUnderstanding the Grading System

Schools, above all else, are meant to teach and train their students to prepare them for their inevitably complicated adult life in the future. They give students grades, of course. This is the case even in college, where students are borderline adults. How does a school ensure that a student is or is not on par with their academic standards?

Teachers will grade students on a scale of F, a failing grade, to A, the best possible grade, on everything from homework to pop quizzes to exams. You do good, like getting answers correct and turning in work on time, and you get a high grade; you do poorly, like getting answers wrong or not turning in work at all, and you get a low grade. Grades can also be given by scores ranging from 1 to 5 or 1 to 100. When students complete the year’s class, their grades are averaged to give them a final grade. There is a bare minimum grade a student needs to have to pass the class and thus move on to the next class and receive the appropriate credit. Most schools have the same minimum score, though some schools are more or less merciful towards struggling students.

This system is roughly the same, no matter what kind of school you are in. However, since we are talking about college, we should note that colleges often have additional student requirements for grades, such as maintaining more than the minimum passing grade. In many ways, the pressure to get high grades in college is greater and lesser than it is in high school.

But how exactly do grades affect your academic standing in college?

How Grades Impact the Student's Academic Standing?

How Grades Impact the Student’s Academic Standing?

Simply put, a student needs to attain high grades to ensure that they will make it through college. You can graduate from college with a C grade. However, many colleges are not satisfied with the bare minimum for their grades; many scholarships and exclusive programs, like the Honors Programs, require that a student maintain a high enough GPA. Additionally, while you can coast on a low GPA, your chances of graduating college become more jeopardized if you receive a failing grade (as those still affect your GPA even if you retake the class).

If a student’s academic standing is poor enough, they can face expulsion from school entirely. This becomes more likely if they are not able to maintain their GPA. But how exactly does a C grade affect a student’s GPA?

How Does a C Grade Affect Your GPA?

How Does a C Grade Affect Your GPA?

Grade point averages, or GPA, are the average grades across your classes. How much a grade affects a GPA in high school and college depends on its credit. Credits are required to progress through college, and getting a C grade in a course will give you the allotted number of credits a course can give you. However, this will result in a lower GPA. A C grade would translate to a measly 2.0 GPA, and getting a C grade will also lower your GPA to be closer to that lower GPA.

You can think of your GPA as the cumulative amount of points you’ve earned, with a 4.0 GPA being the maximum you can obtain: by getting a low grade in a course, you did not receive as many points as you could have, therefore lowering the average. Getting a C when you’ve gotten nothing but As in your courses affects your GPA very little, but getting nothing but Cs means you are not getting as many points as you need.

Getting exclusive grants and programs is not the only reason to get a good grade; getting good grades ensures that you can stay in school if you get a bad grade. Getting higher grades in a course will net you a better credit score in your course and thus improve your GPA. But exactly how bad is a C grade on a college transcript?

Exactly How Bad is a C on a Transcript?

Exactly How Bad is a C on a Transcript?

As we’ve stated before, a C grade is the minimum a student would need to pass a class and receive credit for it. A C is not going to get you into an honors program or make you win an online scholarship. However, if you simply want to get through your college education and walk away with a degree, then a C grade is not bad, per se.

Maintaining Cs throughout your college curriculum is possible, though this is unlikely. As we’ve stated before, maintaining only Cs would mean your academic standing is in jeopardy if you start failing your classes. For a student to consistently get C grades, they would have to try to perform averagely intentionally. In that case, the student would be better off actually achieving high grades. Indeed, students who are worried about getting C grades typically aim for something higher but fail. They did not fail outright, but it can be disheartening to get a low grade when you thought you were acing classes.

If you find yourself disheartened by an average performance, remember this classic adage: “Cs get degrees.” By the end of the day (or should we say, the end of the four years), few people will care that you got a C when you finished your college major and earned a degree. If you submit your college transcript to other colleges that you plan on transferring to, the institutions will not care that you got a C in a specific class; they care about your GPA. In this case, you can maintain a high GPA even if you got some C grades here and there. Finally, your grades mean practically nothing when getting a job out of college. What they are going to look at is your degree. Even the specific college you attended matters more than your grades when you are out of college.

But while you are in college, it is essential to maintain a high GPA. So how can you improve your GPA if you catch yourself getting Cs?

How to Improve Your GPA if You Receive a C Grade?

How to Improve Your GPA if You Receive a C Grade?

If you have had your GPA take a hit because of a mediocre grade, then the clearest solution is to improve your studying and academic skills and achieve more outstanding grades later. In college, a student would take dozens of courses, so one C grade isn’t anywhere enough to stop you from achieving a high GPA. However, if you are struggling with classes, you can barely pass, then “get better grades” is easier said than done. How do you improve your GPA if you receive a C grade? We have a few suggestions:

  • You should choose your classes wisely. If you struggle with a class that is a core class, like English, mathematics, or science, you cannot avoid these classes, but you can put them off for later if you feel like you are not in the right mindset to take them on. You will have to take core classes eventually if you want to graduate, so it is best to develop study habits to circumvent whichever part of the class subject you are floundering in.
  • You can take a different major. This is primarily an option if you are in your freshman or sophomore year. Since your major classes are not required for graduation, per se, this can be an excellent opportunity to reassess whether your major is what you want to pursue. If you are struggling in courses related to your major, the same advice from before also applies; keep up your study habits and address where you are falling behind.
  • If you are not confident that you can make the changes necessary to improve your GPA on your own, you can consult a professor, tutor, or guidance counselor for help and assistance as to what to do in the future. Asking for help is not only an option; it is your greatest tool!

Wrapping Things Up: How Bad is a C on a College Transcript? 

How bad is a C on a college transcript? It is not the end of the world. Your GPA will take a hit, but you can move on to your following classes. A C is easy to make up for, and if by the end of your four years of college, you graduate with a C, well, Cs get degrees! You have nothing to worry about as long as you are dedicated enough to achieve high grades!

Check out our other interesting articles below:

> How Many W’s on a Transcript is Bad?

> What is a School Transcript?

> Is Getting B’s in High School Bad?

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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