The website of your dream college does not say what unweighted GPA a student has to have to get accepted into it. And it’s making you wonder if applying to the school will only waste your time and application fee — you are in the dark as to whether or not your unweighted GPA is good enough for an acceptance letter.
In terms of the college application, a good unweighted GPA can vary from one institution to the next. Selective schools prefer perfect or near-perfect GPAs. The national average GPA for high school students is 3.0. Any lower unweighted GPA is below average and can make college application difficult.
About to build a college list and you want to make it as balanced as possible? Don’t stop reading now!
This article will let you know, once and for all, what unweighted GPA is good enough for various colleges and universities, competitive and less competitive alike.
We will also talk about how to determine the GPA your top-choice school prefers, thus allowing you to send your application to it with confidence and a positive outlook.
But before anything else, let’s answer this question many high schoolers feel too shy to ask…
Unweighted vs. Weighted GPA: What’s the Difference?
Simply put, the main difference between an unweighted and weighted GPA is whether or not the difficulty of one’s coursework is considered. An unweighted GPA, the highest of which is 4.0, does not take into account the level of coursework. Meanwhile, a weighted GPA, which can range from 5 to 12, does.
There are high schools that use the unweighted GPA scale. Needless to say, there are also high schools that use the weighted GPA scale. It goes without saying that different high schools have different preferences.
Each scale comes with its own set of pros and cons.
For instance, one of the most obvious perks that come with an unweighted GPA scale is that no high school student is put at an advantage or a disadvantage. That’s because every coursework, whether hard or easy, has equal value.
Those who are taking standard-level classes only and have high grades and those who are taking challenging high-level classes but have not-so-high grades could end up with the same unweighted GPAs. It’s a good thing that admissions officers check out academic rigor when evaluating applicants.
Meanwhile, what’s so great about the use of a weighted GPA scale is that it encourages high schoolers to take advanced courses, thus making them more college-ready. However, computing one’s weighted GPA can be complicated!
It doesn’t matter to colleges and universities whether it’s a weighted GPA scale or an unweighted GPA scale that your high school uses.
Especially if the one you are about to apply to has a holistic admissions policy, you can have peace of mind that your GPA will be put into context by having the rest of your application considered.
Related Article: Is B+ a Good Enough Grade for a College?
What Unweighted GPA Do Colleges Require?
Most US colleges and universities do not have a published minimum GPA requirement. This is especially true for institutions with a holistic admissions policy. However, as a general rule, the more selective or competitive the school is, the higher the GPAs of applicants who get accepted into it.
It’s true that the high school GPA is a good starting point for admissions officers to start evaluating an applicant’s secondary education performance and have a general idea of the chances of succeeding in college.
However, it is not the only factor that speaks volumes about the college readiness of an aspirant.
Admissions officers know this, which is why the majority of colleges and universities follow a holistic admissions policy. Simply put, it entails assessing applicants by considering many different vital parts of their applications.
So, in other words, their GPAs, standardized test scores, class rank and academic rigor are not the only ones taken into account.
What a lot of institutions do, instead, is publish the average high school GPA of admitted first-year students.
This is good for schools as it allows them to demonstrate the fact that they are competitive and tend to attract some of the brightest students in the land. And this can make them more appealing in the eyes of students and their parents.
Thinking about whether or not your unweighted GPA is the same as the unweighted GPAs of applicants accepted into your dream school? All you have to do is check out the institution’s CDS.
Short for the Common Data Set, CDS is a collaboration between various entities that have something to do with secondary and postsecondary education in the US. They range anywhere from high school counselors, college ranking sites to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
The goal of CDS is simple: to improve the quality and accuracy of data available to college-seeking students.
Accessing the CDS of the schools you have in mind and checking out various data points will give you a much better idea of whether or not they should be included on your college list.
Below, you will come across a table showing the percentage of admitted first-year students into some colleges and universities according to unweighted GPA. The included schools are as follow:
- Harvard University – arguably the most popular Ivy League school
- Stanford University – a prestigious school often mistaken as an Ivy League
- Georgia Institute of Technology – a high-ranking public school
- Stony Brook University – a moderately selective school with a 44% acceptance rate
- Columbia College – a less selective school with a 97% acceptance rate (don’t confuse with Columbia University)
|GPA RANGE||HARVARD||STANFORD||GEORGIA TECH||STONY BROOK||COLUMBIA|
|3.75 to 3.99||18.02%||27.50%||10.75%||27.85%||24.00%|
|3.50 to 3.74||4.00%||3.10%||2.45%||20.58%||19.00%|
|3.25 to 3.49||1.79%||0.40%||0.94%||8.22%||15.00%|
|3.00 to 3.24||0.32%||0.30%||0.61%||3.77%||9.00%|
|2.50 to 2.99||0.11%||0.00%||0.38%||0.69%||13.00%|
|2.0 to 2.49||0.00%||0.00%||0.24%||0.15%||2.00%|
|1.0 to 1.99||0.00%||0.00%||0.05%||0.00%||0.00%|
|1.0 and below||0.00%||0.00%||0.00%||0.00%||0.00%|
As you can see, according to the table above, the majority of applicants that receive an application letter and eventually enroll at Harvard University, Stanford University and Georgia Institute of Technology, all of which are highly selective institutions, have a perfect 4.0 unweighted GPA.
This means that your chances of gaining admission into them get lower the farther your unweighted GPA is away from 4.0. However, it’s still possible that any one of these elite schools will accept you despite your GPA if some other parts of your application make you outshine the applications of others.
Related Article: What Makes College Good a Good Fit
Just Before You Apply to College
Most colleges and universities do not have minimum GPA requirements. However, checking out their CDS, in particular the Freshman Profile section, you will have an idea that these institutions for higher education tend to admit more applicants with unweighted GPAs that are within a certain range.
But just because your unweighted GPA is lower than the GPAs of the majority of first-year students your dream school admits doesn’t mean that you don’t stand a chance.
Keep in mind that the majority of colleges and universities in the US have a holistic admissions policy.
So, in other words, it’s not just your GPA that their admissions officers will consider when evaluating you but also your admissions essays, recommendation letters, extracurriculars, work experience, volunteerism and others.
Needless to say, an acceptance letter might still come your way if your overall application is a winner!
Are there colleges with no GPA requirements?
Some institutions do not require applicants to meet any minimum GPA requirement. However, they might require applicants to prove they are ready for college-level courses. For instance, some colleges with no GPA requirements might admit only those with a certain test score or some work experience.
Who applies to colleges that require no GPA?
Students who are not happy with their high school GPAs could benefit from applying to institutions with no GPA requirements. The same is true for those who have earned a GED certificate instead of a high school diploma. However, it’s a good idea to make the rest of their applications stand out.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.