How is a GPA calculated, does it matter for your future, and what is considered a good college GPA? Check out these inspiring facts to see where you stand.
Whether you’re applying to college or in college, you probably know a thing or two about your GPA. But, what does your GPA stand for, does it really matter for your future and what is considered a good college GPA?
Calculating Your GPA
A GPA, or grade point average, is calculated by averaging all of your grades by a point system, typically on a scale of 4.0. This means that each grade is assigned a point, for example: A =4, B=3, C=2, D=1, and then they are added together and divided by the total number of grades to find the average.
There are generally two types of GPAs, a semester GPA and a cumulative GPA. Like their names suggest, a semester GPA is based on grades for that specific semester, whereas a cumulative GPA is all grades since the beginning of one’s school career, either high school or college.
Things to Know:
Most schools don’t include a F, Incomplete or Pass/Fail grade in their calculation. They still will show up on your transcripts though, so definitely try to avoid these kinds of grades.
Depending on your school, some only consider classes taken at that institution as part of the calculation. Others may look at all your coursework and units taken and factor that into their calculation.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math degrees tend to have the lowest GPA, whereas Music, English, and Language are higher. This is because the difficulty of the coursework and the subjective nature of grading for humanities versus number-based math and science.
Remember: Don’t take courses just because you think you’ll do well in them. Take classes that you’re genuinely interested in learning about to find your passion, challenge yourself, and keep you engaged. This way, you will be working towards your future goals rather than focusing only on your grades.
Does My GPA Matter?
This is a good and noteworthy question because you’ve probably been told over and over that your GPA is extremely important. The truth is – it really does depend.
If you want to go to graduate school or medical school after undergraduate college, your GPA is definitely considered during the application process. GPAs are one of various factors considered by the admissions team. Often times, it combines with an interview, a personal essay, and the assessment of how difficult your classes are.
But if you had a bumpy start, don’t worry so much because there are still ways to turn it around. If your grades were lower during your first two years of college and then you improved them in your junior and senior years, that’s a positive because it shows adjustment and progression, and many schools take this into consideration during the admissions process. Also, some graduate schools allow you to complete what’s called a post-baccalaureate program, where you can finish up necessary credits after completing your bachelor’s program, but before entering a master’s program. These courses can help you improve your GPA if it didn’t make the cut the first time around.
On the other hand, if you don’t intend to go into a graduate program, but rather you wish to enter the job market immediately upon graduation, your GPA could be helpful, if it is a good number. Most companies value the interview process more than a GPA, as well as work experience, but if you’re new to the job market and do have a good GPA, it can only help put you ahead of the competition.
What’s Considered a “Good” GPA?
The average high school GPA is a solid 3.0, which hasn’t changed for over a decade.
The average college GPA is a 3.1 – or B average. This number has increased over time because of grade inflation.
So, if your GPA is higher than that number, it could be beneficial to include on your resume as means to set you apart from the competition. If you don’t want to include your GPA on your resume, it is not required (unless your job is specifically asking for it).
There are so many other factors that go into consideration for both jobs and graduate schools. For example, your extracurricular activities, cover letter/entrance letter, volunteer service, letters of recommendation, previous work experience, and even the difficulty of the coursework you took.
How Do I Raise My GPA?
If you’re currently in high school applying for college, or in college and considering your future in either the workforce or graduate school and your GPA isn’t where you want it to be, there are ways to improve it!
Try these simple steps:
- Find out if any course you didn’t do well in is offered and considered during summer school and retake the course.
- Find out if any advanced or honors courses hold higher weights for your GPA, and if it’s a subject you know you can do well in, try taking that course.
- Work independently with a teacher or tutor if you need extra help in any area.
- Study more and don’t procrastinate.
- Consider applying to schools that don’t consider your Freshman year grades as part of the GPA. Schools like San Diego State and Chapman drop these from consideration. Or, apply to online, accredited universities like University of the People, which only require the completion of high school and/or the passing of an English exam for admission. For example, world renowned Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles is a student at University of the People, and she entered the college with just her high school diploma (and of course, some gold medals).
While GPAs are one way to assess your standing in a pool of the competition for graduate school or employment, it is only one measure of success that is considered.
If your GPA is not where you want it to be, you can always work at increasing it through tutoring, taking classes again, or applying to schools where your GPA isn’t even considered.
But remember, a GPA isn’t the end all, be all for your future. It’s important to grow your network, create a professional cover letter, add to your work experience, enroll in extracurricular activities, volunteer, travel, and spend time doing what you’re interested in to display well-roundedness and showcase your unique character. Academic excellence is always a good thing, but it’s not the only thing you have to offer!