3.8? 5.2? How Can Admissions Officers Compare GPAs Across High Schools?

June 1, 2015


High school students are often painfully and intimately familiar with the methods their high schools use to calculate GPA.  At times, attempts to manipulate GPA can have more influence on a student’s course load than the classes he is actually interested in!  Consider hypothetical students from three different high schools:


  • Alex has mostly As and Bs in a mix of honors and AP courses.  His high school gives extra weight to these core subjects, and his transcript shows a GPA of 4.7.

  • Sarah reports almost all As in honors courses.  (Her high school does not offer any AP classes.)  Her GPA, which includes only core academic subjects and is completed unweighted, comes in at 3.95.

  • Cami has earned mostly As in a very rigorous program at a high school that gives extra weight to honors courses, and even more to the multiple AP courses offered.  However, her school includes non-honors gym, band, chorus and Drivers’ Ed in the GPA.   Her GPA is “only” 4.3.


These are only three scenarios.  When we multiply it by the thousands of high schools in the United States, we can see how it might drive admissions officers crazy!  Understandably, each admissions office develops a way to deal with this issue.  Some colleges simply accept whatever you report.  Others assign their own 1-9 ranking comparing you with others from your high school.  Most competitive colleges will recalculate according to their own system.  Sometimes parents and students are misled by their high schools into thinking their GPA is

more impressive than it is.  It is important to know how a college will view your particular GPA. 


Let me help you make the most of your GPA when applying to college.  Call 847-660-8625 or fill out the “contact me” form at the bottom of the page.

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