What is a good GPA?

GPA – grade point average is the scoring system used throughout the states to determine a student’s performance in each high school subject.

A good GPA is anything higher than the national average, which is 3.0. The higher your GPA the better chance you have of acceptance to your dream school.

Your GPA score will determine which school you can choose on your college application. Where you wish to go determines how high it needs to be. Read on to find out all you need to know.

  1. How is GPA calculated?
  2. What college are you dreaming about?
  3. Improving your GPA
  4. Not just about GPA

Having a ‘good’ GPA certainly makes life a little easier. But what is a good GPA and how do I get it? Here’s how.

The main thing to remember about your GPA is that you need to be higher than the national average which for the past decade is 3.0.

If you are hoping for a top 50 school, it needs to be much higher.
Also, taking classes that are seen to be easy won’t do you any favors on your college app.

How is GPA calculated?

GPA – Grade Point Average is an assessment of your performance both in high school and in college. In order to apply for college, you must have a GPA history. GPA is split from 1-4 (each number representing a letter grade from A-D.) There are breakdowns in between each number that shows A-, B+, B- etc. All your subjects are graded and then allocated a number. They are then averaged by dividing the total by the number of subjects you take.

We know how each grade is allocated but that’s not just as clear when it comes to calculating. Each school is different and may calculate grades differently. Your school may have alternative ways of scoring each student.

Two students who both have a 4.0 average may be judged differently by college admissions as one class is weighted and another is not. The college will look more favorably on the student with the weighted score as they are seen to have put in more effort, into a harder subject.

I have also written the following posts regarding SAT/GPA/ACT

Is GPA or SAT score more important?

Should I take both the SAT and ACT?

Are SAT subject tests hard?

There’s little or no point sitting classes that you are acing. Colleges want to see that kids are driven, and determined to succeed. Colleges look at all the information provided by your high school. They will know if you go to a particularly hard grading school and have a GPA of 3.4 that equally in another school could be a 3.9 or vice versa.

What college are you dreaming of?

So here’s where your GPA will start to matter. If your GPA is above the National Average of 3.0 well then you are doing well. All scores are used to work out the national average including those not thinking about going to college.

The difference is between the colleges themselves. If you have your heart set on an Ivy then a ‘good’ score of 3.0 – 3.5 GPA just won ‘t cut it I’m afraid. Most Ivies won’t even consider a GPA blow 3.75 and nearly everyone applying will have above even that so you need everything extra as well as a high GPA.
If you need this level of GPA you need to be consistently scoring ‘A’s but all achieved in the upper-grade classes. Everyone applying to an Ivy is excelling, their whole application is looked at with a fine tooth comb.

The majority of schools are in the 3.0-3.5 bracket. This is still no mean feat. It gives most students in this range a B-/ B average. However, the expectation to be sitting in all higher-level classes is not there.

Improving your GPA

If your GPA is above the national average, then you may be happy with your score and confident that you will get a place in your chosen school. However, there’s always room for improvement, and we don’t want to take our foot off the gas in the final stretch. Especially if you are not quite hitting the mark or have your heart set on a top 50 school. If you are not doing as well in one (or two) of your courses and they are lowering your GPA then enquire if you can resit this course over the summer. Consider taking some harder courses to up your average. Do some research and see if there are any additional study classes or help online or after school from teachers, either paid or possibly free.

At the end of the day, you get what you put in. Put a study plan in place that is actually going to work. There’s no point in designing a study plan with all the pretty colors and neat boxes, sticking it on the wall, and forgetting about it.

Draw one up that you are actually going to use. It’s better to study first and then do homework and assignments. It’s much easier to put off studying. I’ll do it all at the weekend. I’ll pull an all-nighter. This unfortunately is only beneficial for scraping through. If you want your GPA to get you to that dream college the only way to achieve that is with hard work.

Not just about GPA

So the bottom line is this. Yes your GPA is important. Some would say it is in fact the basis of your college application. Without a 3.5+ GPA, you’re not even going to make the maybe pile in the top college’s admissions office.

I have also written a post on taking the SAT first time senior year if you are interested.

But your GPA is only part of the application. There is so much more that colleges are looking for. Most schools are still considering and accepting SAT / ACT scores. You also have your letters of recommendation, and your essay prompt. You are selling yourself as the student that is going to change the world. Colleges are looking for success stories, for students that have a passion about a particular subject. And no, they don’t care what that subject is only that you are going to stand out because of it.
By all means, study hard. Raise that GPA as high as you can, get good scores on your SAT or ACT but don’t neglect WHO you are on your college application. College admission officers want to see a spark, a jewel. Be at the top of the acceptance pile, by being the best you can be.

Tara Cunningham

Tara Cunningham is a Mum and Graphic Designer. My children's education has always been very important to me. I feel that if you are willing to put in the time they will appreciate the effort. I hope that you find our thoughts and ideas useful and interesting.

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