College GPA Requirements: How Does Your GPA Factor Into College Admissions?
Your GPA is one of the most important elements of a college application — one admissions officers review when making admissions decisions. However, the way grade point averages factor into college admissions decisions is not straightforward or uniform from school to school. Since different high schools use different systems to grade and rank their students, most colleges take several things into account when assessing an applicant’s GPA. From there, every college has different standards in terms of GPA requirements. In this article, we’ll break down how colleges calculate GPA, what admissions officers are looking for, and why your GPA is one of the most significant pieces of your applicant profile. Translating your GPA scale Every high school has a different method of calculating GPA, but most American universities subscribe to the 4.0 standard. This means that your letter grade in each class will translate to a scaled score that is then multiplied by the number of credits the class is worth; the resulting number is your cumulative GPA. However, not every high school uses a 4.0 GPA system. Particularly in charter or independent schools, grading might be calculated on a scale of 0–100 or a grade letter system not attached to a numerical value. In these cases, you can use the below table to translate your grades to the 4.0 system. 4.0 A+ 97–100 4.0 A 94–100 3.7 A- 90–93 3.3 B+ 87–89 3.0 B 84–-86 2.7 B- 80–83 2.3 C+ 77–79 2.0 C 74–76 1.7 C- 70–73 1.3 D+ 67–69 1.0 D 64–66 0.7 D- 60–63 0.0 F 0–59 Some schools also use a 4.3 GPA system. In these instances, an A+ corresponds to a 4.3 instead of a 4.0, but the rest of the scale above will remain the same. Grading systems aren’t just about scales, however. Some schools won’t include nonacademic classes like physical education (PE) when they calculate total GPA, while others might, and some schools don’t give out pluses or minuses as part of their grading system. Weighted vs. unweighted GPA If your school offers Advanced Placement (AP) classes, you’ll have two GPAs to keep track of: weighted and unweighted. Weighted GPAs are a school’s way of rewarding students for taking extra challenging courses, usually calculated on a 5.0 scale instead of 4.0, with a 5.0 corresponding to straight As in all AP classes. In this way, a high weighted GPA demonstrates how well you performed in your classes and how difficult those courses were, to begin with. You’ll have a place on your college application to list both GPAs, but keep in mind that most colleges refer to unweighted GPA when describing their average GPA statistics for admitted students. Class ranking and GPA Colleges recognize that every school is different, and a 4.0 at one school might mean something very different than a 4.0 at another school. This is why they take into account other academic factors when considering your GPA. For instance, many colleges will look at your class standing or percentile (e.g., [...]