So, does your GPA really matter? And what’s with all the different ways to calculate it? We’ve got your answers.
What is GPA?
|Letter Grade||4.0 Scale|
Grade point average (GPA) is a way that schools, universities, and employers compare students to each other that is consistent. It measures your average grades in school by assigning each grade a point value. The College Board explains it as follows: “Colleges report GPA (grade point average) on a 4.0 scale. The top grade is an A, which equals 4.0. This is the standard scale at most colleges, and many high schools use it.”
Seems simple, right? Unfortunately, what we just describes is one of multiple methods used in the United States alone. Take the “weighted GPA” for example. This scale gives more points to some classes that are more difficult, like AP, honors, and advanced courses.
An ‘A’ in a normal history course would be 4.0 points towards an average; in an AP History course, that same ‘A’ grade would receive 5.0 points.
Beyond the weighted GPA, there’s also point-based systems, letter grade rankings and more. But don’t worry – the normal GPA scale shown to the right is used by most colleges and high schools in the United States.
Does GPA matter?
Your GPA can influence a lot of things – college admissions, scholarships, eligibility for loans, good student discounts on car insurance, the ability to participate in honors societies and other extra-curricular activities, and so on.
Yes, GPA does matter. Is it the only thing that matters? Absolutely not. To get into college, many universities consider dozens of factors, including ACT/SAT scores, extra-curricular activities, admissions essay, and extenuating circumstances.
But a good high school GPA will help increase your chances of getting into the college you want, just like a college GPA can help you get into a good grad school.
How to improve your GPA?
If you feel like your GPA needs some work, you’re not alone. Start by creating a plan – focus on one or two classes that you can improve in, and then work to make that happen. The more that you try and tackle at the beginning, the less likely you are to succeed.
It’s important to figure out what is making things difficult for you. Are you distracted when you’re in class? Is your class moving too fast for you? Are you not understanding your teacher’s instructions? Some kids will struggle in elementary school because they can’t see what is written on the board, and when they are moved to the front of the room, their performance improves. The same could be true of your struggles – if you identify and address them, your GPA can improve.
Every problem is unique, but solutions can be found. Teachers can be surprisingly helpful and willing to work with you to help you improve. If you are willing to work hard, you can raise your GPA!
For those who are struggling to keep up in class, online courses – like those offered by Independent Study – can provide the option to work at your own pace.