Every year, we receive data from schools, and we’ve deduced that there are two major elements that influence college admissions: The rigour of your high school curriculum and your high school GPA. Standardized test scores, such as those from the SAT and ACT, comes secondary. Because GPA is so essential, here’s a fast guide to calculating yours.
Your grade point average (GPA) is calculated by dividing the total number of credits by the sum of all your course grades throughout high school. The majority of high schools (and colleges) use a 4.0 scale to report grades. A 4.0 is equal to the highest grade, an A. Here’s a basic chart to help you convert your letter grades to a 4.0 scale.
|LETTER GRADE||GRADE POINTS||NUMERICAL GRADE|
The average of all your grades on the 4.0 scale above is your unweighted GPA.
Some high schools implement a weighted GPA scale, which gives scores in accelerated courses like Honors Biology or AP French additional points (or “weight”). So, although a B in a regular class could equal a 3.0, in an AP class, a B might be closer to a 3.3 on a weighted scale.
The answer to this question is contingent on where you wish to attend college. Examine the GPA ranges for accepted students at the schools on your wish list to see how your grades stack up. Use our college/university search to find colleges that are a good fit for you.
The severity of your high school schedule will also be taken into account by colleges. When Honors and AP courses were available, did you take them? Were you a part of the IB program at your high school? Colleges want to see that you are challenging yourself academically in addition to doing well in the courses you studied.
With your GPA, you’ll be able to get in, but in these financially challenging times, your grades can also convert into dollars and cents. Even at universities where students are solely given aid based on their financial need, students who have excelled academically are given priority packaging. (They have a higher percentage of grants and a lower amount of loans in their award packages.) Some universities provide full scholarships to students with high GPAs.
Other universities (increasingly in recent years) award big merit-based grants regardless of financial necessity. These scholarships aren’t only for 4.0 students, either! Several universities that we know of offer merit-based grants to students with B averages.
You can earn scholarships in addition to your grades by participating in extracurricular activities. To learn more about what all extracurriculars can help you win a scholarship, you can read our blog on Turn Extracurricular Activities into Scholarships.
Senioritis exists, but colleges continue to monitor your grades even after you’ve been accepted. So don’t assume you’ll be able to ignore your grades once that acceptance letter arrives in the mail! Plus, if you’ve been waitlisted for your dream school, maintaining good grades can help you get off of it.
In a nutshell, your GPA is actually the only metric or computation that shows how good of a student you are and whether you’ve been doing well through your degree program throughout your university education. Although you’ll know whether you have passed and succeeded in your classes, your GPA provides a more comprehensive picture of your total grades and scores.
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