I was listening to one of my favorite college admissions podcasts yesterday as the hosts talked about calculating your GPA. (I’ll post the link to the podcast page at the end of this post so you can listen too.)
After your done calculating your GPA based on how your high school figures it out (things like “weighting” grades for honors, AP and IB classes), then look to see how one or two of the colleges you’re interested in calculate your GPA.
This second part is important. As you’re looking at colleges to apply to, they will often talk about an average GPA, or more often, the GPA of “the middle 50%” of admitted students. This means that 50% of admitted students had their GPAs in the given range, with 25% of students having a higher GPA and 25% having a lower GPA. You’ll want to know how your GPA fits in their range.
Here’s what I would add to what the hosts of The College Prep Podcast said: calculate your GPA with only your academic classes, that is, the classes that the colleges are going to use to figure out your GPA. Though this is by no means standard across colleges, it generally means taking out your PE grades (sad for some; a relief for others!), your religion class grades (required at some religiously affiliated high schools), and sometimes elective classes that don’t fit into one of the Big Five academic class areas – English/Language Arts, Math, Social Studies/History, Foreign/World Language, Science. Some schools will look at art and music classes in your GPA, others may not.
Just to make things even more interesting, you might ask what grades they look at from what years. Emory University in Atlanta doesn’t use your freshmen year grades when they compute your GPA. The University of Washington, and many other schools with December of earlier deadlines, are not going to have your senior year grades to add to your GPA calculation.
The only way to know how the college is calculating your GPA is to ask! Ask admissions counselors and that will help you to see exactly what they’ll be looking at when they review your application.
Please go ahead and listen to Megan and Gretchen as they talk about how to calculate your high school GPA. It’s a quick 10-minute listen and well worth your time.
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