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What Is A Good GPA In High School?

Your GPA (Grade Point Average) is one of the first things US college admissions teams will look at when deciding your strength as a candidate for their school. 

At top universities that are more competitive than usual (such as Ivy League schools) the average admission has a perfect GPA.

What Is A Good GPA In High School?

Building your GPA takes years and is a marathon not a sprint, but understanding how important it is in the early years of high school can help pave the way for success. 

You might be wondering what a good GPA is in high school – especially if you’ve set your sights on a particularly competitive school – and this is what we’ll find out in our article today!

What Exactly Is A GPA?

Your GPA is a score that is normally scored on a 4-point scale that illustrates how well you’ve performed academically in high school, and is mainly used in the US.

Although US universities don’t publish their official GPA criteria, they do have thresholds when it comes to scores and won’t consider candidates whose GPAs are on the lower side. 

Because academia makes up around 40% of your application, good grades are essential, and this is why your high school GPA is so important. 

A good GPA indicates a well-rounded, hardworking and dedicated student who does well in a classroom environment. 

Universities may take a look at your GPA from as far back as the age of 14, so it’s critical you keep your GPA in mind from your freshman year of high school, with solid grades that you maintain throughout your high school year.

Universities will also be looking for improvement over the years so they can see you’ve consistently worked hard to achieve a good GPA.

So What Is A Good GPA?

3.0 is the average high school GPA and this makes up approximately 35% of students who – for one reason or another – don’t apply for college.

But for college applicants, the average GPA is about 3.5 and 4.0.

If you would like to attend prestigious colleges like MIT, Stanford, or any colleges in the Ivy League, then they will be looking for a 4.0 GPA.

Things get a little complicated however when we consider weighted and unweighted GPAs. Unweighted GPAs exist on the 4.0 scale.

These mean they don’t take into account the difficulties of certain classes, which can put you at a disadvantage.

This is why the most selective US colleges opt for the ‘weighted’ GPA system, which paints a clearer picture of the average achieved across a range of students, and is measured on a 5-point scale, rather than a 4-point scale.

Because admission rates at these selective colleges normally fall in the single-digit range and GPAs for admitted students sit at around 4.0, opting for more challenging classes is crucial to boosting your GPA and your chances of getting into universities like Yale, Harvard, or other competitive universities.

What GPA Do Ivy League And Other Top Colleges Look For?

The GPA expected from Ivy League schools and other prestigious colleges are well above average.

Most Ivy League students leave high school with a GPA over 4.0, and this is mainly because every Ivy League school considers a weighted GPA rather than an unweighted GPA. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most prestigious schools in the US, and the average weighted GPA of successful candidates.

SchoolAverage Weighted GPA
Columbia University4.14
Cornell University4.05
Brown University 4.05
Dartmouth College4.07
Harvard University4.15
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)4.15
Princeton University4.14
Stanford University4.13
University of Pennsylvania4.10
Yale University4.10
What Is A Good GPA In High School? (1)

How To Work Out Your GPA

A GPA turns the percentage or letters that normally illustrate your grades into numbers and then finds out what the average number is. 

For example, if you’re taking five classes and you have achieved A grades in two classes and B grades in three classes, then those two As will each convert into 4.0 and the Bs will convert into 3.0.

When you add these two figures together and divide them by five, you get a GPA of 3.4

What Is A Good GPA In College?

A good GPA in high school may actually translate into underwhelming performance in college. After all, expectations for your GPA can vary not just by college but by department and majors too. 

When trying to determine a good GPA, ask yourself what GPA you would like to put on your resume once you’ve graduated from college.

Unless your major is famously difficult, a GPA below a 3.5 isn’t going to go over well with future employers. 

A good GPA in college also includes honors designations. Students often graduate ‘cum laude’ (‘with praise’ in Latin) when they achieve a GPA of 3.5 to 3.7, ‘magna cum laude’ (‘with great praise) when they achieve a GPA of 3.7 to 3.9, and ‘summa cum laude’ (‘with highest praise)’ when they achieve a GPA of more than 3.9

If you would like to apply for graduate school you should concentrate on maintaining a good GPA throughout college, as most graduate programs look for a GPA of at least 3.0, while the more competitive programs would like a GPA of at least 3.5.

So Is GPA Important?

GPA is important, especially for college admissions teams.

Achieving a 4.0 in high school gives you a good chance of being accepted into most state universities, but a lot of Ivy League schools and other competitive colleges look for a perfect GPA.

However, it’s important to remember that your GPA is a single aspect of your academic record, and colleges and grad schools also place great emphasis on achievements such as work or volunteer experience that is relevant, letters of recommendation, and personal essays. Good luck!

Final Thoughts

If you would like to attend an Ivy League college or any other prestigious university, then challenge yourself with your choice of courses.

Although it may seem like it, colleges aren’t looking for total perfection.

Rather, they’re looking for students who have pushed themselves academically and show signs of continuing to do so once they graduate high school.

Simon Lewis

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