Grades are certainly important — but when it comes to college, just how important are they? More specifically, how important is your high school GPA is determining whether you will earn acceptance into the college of your choice? The answer? While your GPA will be an important factor for colleges, it isn’t the only factor, as admissions officers look for students who will make a positive contribution both inside and outside the classroom.
As you may already know, your GPA (grade point average) is the average of all grades you’ve earned from freshman year until graduation. Sometimes, GPAs are calculated on an unweighted scale, which means they’re averaged with 4.0 as the maximum and 0.0 as the minimum. Other times, GPAs are weighted, which means they’re averaged with 5.0 (an A in an AP class) as the maximum and 0.0 as the minimum. Most high schools will list both on a student’s transcript.
So, what do these numbers mean for colleges? In some cases, they can be your key into your dream school — or even your key to earning a big scholarship. In other cases, they’re just a piece of the puzzle. In this guide, we cover all things GPA: what is considered a good GPA in high school, how much does a GPA matter when it comes to applying to college, and what other factors besides GPA can help boost an application? After answering these questions, we’ll also give you the chance to sign up here on Cappex and search colleges by GPA.
What is a Good GPA in High School?
What is a good GPA for high school? More importantly, what is a good high school GPA that will get you into college? The answer depends on the college. Most colleges like to see unweighted GPAs of 3.0 or above, but many will accept passing GPAs of 2.0 or above (a C average). If your GPA is hovering around 2.0 or sitting below 2.0, you want to do everything you can to raise your average—or make sure that the rest of your application is stellar.
What is the Average High School GPA?
Ultimately, what makes your GPA good or bad is how well it compares to the GPAs of your peers. So, what is the average GPA in high school? Studies conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) put the national average unweighted GPA right around 3.0, or a B average. Is this average good enough to get into most colleges? The short answer is yes, a 3.0 average will get you into most colleges — as long as your application is up to par or better. More exclusive institutions will likely require a higher GPA, while some schools may accept you based on a 3.0 high school GPA alone.
What are Colleges Looking for in an Applicant (Other than GPA)?
How much does GPA matter for college? It matters, but it’s just one ingredient in the recipe for admissions success. Instead of asking How important is GPA for college?, start asking What do colleges look for in applicants? You’ll find that the answer involves a lot more than just GPA. Having ever part of your application looking great (including GPA) is the best way to get accepted into your dream school. So, what do colleges look for in a student (besides GPA). Here a few key things:
- SAT Scores
- ACT Scores
- Extracurricular Activities
- College Application Essays
- Volunteer Work
- Leadership positions
Explore Colleges for Every GPA with Cappex
Still have questions like how do colleges look at GPA or what are colleges looking for in applicants? We have answers. We also have a huge database to help you find colleges by GPA and determine the best fit for you. Research the list of colleges by state below, and sign up for a Cappex account to make your college search a success.