Let’s Talk about C’s – Is it Really a Bad Grade?

Is a “c” a bad grade? Whether you’re in high school or college, getting your first “C” can be a heart freezing moment – especially if you are used to A’s. What will your parents say? Will it impact your entire GPA? 

We want to calm your nerves and let you know – a C is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s a fairly good grade. Here’s why it gets a bad rap and how you can go about raising it.

What Does a “C” Mean?

A “C” simply means “satisfactory performance” or “average.” It is the bare minimum of good work – you’re completing all of your assignments, handing in your homework, and answering a majority of questions on your tests correctly. C usually also means the student is paying attention to minimum page counts or word counts for essays, but not going beyond that.

Is a “C” a Bad Grade?

A C in college in high school is often thought of as “barely passing,” but that’s really not true. The definition we gave up above has nothing about failing in it, after all. While your parents may have something to say about anything less than an A, the idea that an “A” is the only good grade is a mindset that it would do you good to get away from. 

It Could Impact Opportunities

While a C isn’t a bad thing, regular C’s could impact the opportunities available to you. In high school, for example, a few C’s on your report card could mean you’re not getting into your highly competitive dream college or university. And many college classes available in high school will not transfer 1:1 to college credit if you’ve only earned a C. It will usually instead count as elective credits.

In college, C’s can also bring down your GPA and impact your opportunities for graduate school or extremely competitive programs like veterinarian school. 

And in both, a C gives you a little less wiggle room when it comes to your overall GPA. If you have a tough semester, and accidentally get a few C’s, a D, and/or even an F, you could be placed on a probationary period. Too many of these instances and you could be asked to leave the school.

But a solid C throughout all of high school or college classes will usually not stop you from graduating!

How Can You Aim for Higher Grades?

If you’re not happy with your C and want to elevate your grades, there are several ways to do just that!

1. Study

This may be obvious, but for some college students who breezed through high school, it doesn’t come naturally. Studying is a must do in college, no matter how well you feel you retain information. If you’re getting C’s in college when you got A’s in high school, this could be the missing puzzle piece.

2. Don’t Expect Overnight Progress

Changing your grade from a C to a B to an A is not going to happen overnight in most cases. Work towards small improvements over time and start adopting better studying habits that will stick with you into later classes and years.

3. Identify Anything You Forgot to Turn In

Did you overlook an essay that could have drastically changed your grade? Or a homework module you forgot to turn in? Talk to your professor – some will be understanding and allow you to turn in late work for a lower grade. This could give you the boost you need to get to a B at least!

However, if your instructor doesn’t let you turn in late projects, take it as a lesson. Use a planner or the calendar on your phone to better track your work and due dates going forward.

4. Go Beyond

Getting more than a C on your report card means doing more than the bare minimum. You can potentially raise your grade by

  • Participating more in class
  • Writing beyond the page limit or word count (as long as you don’t pass the maximum allowed amount)
  • Meeting with your teacher during their office hours to ask about work and how you can improve
  • Working with someone in your class or a tutor to better understand the subject matter

A “C” really isn’t a bad grade, but it’s understandable that you may not be happy with it. While you should aim to improve your grades, you shouldn’t beat yourself up over the C, especially if it’s your only one. Take a look at where improvements can be made and how you can boost it to a B, or even an A!

Part of applying for colleges is finding “target schools.” This is where you have a pretty good chance of getting accepted based on your grades, standardized test scores, and extracurriculars. Need help finding your target schools? Use our College Match tool for free to get started!