If you’re beginning your journey towards the college selection and application process, you’re likely pondering the question of what is a good high school GPA from a college admissions counselor’s point of view. This seems like a simple enough question, but the complexity of the answer may surprise you. If you’re a student asking this question, you most likely have the goal of arriving at a better understanding of how high a GPA you really need to get into the college of your choice.
The answer to that question will differ depending on your unique situation; many factors can influence the answer:
- Which college(s) you aspire to attend
- How rigorous the combined total of your high school coursework is
- Whether or not your GPA is weighted
- How competitive admissions are at the college of your choice
What Is the National Average GPA in the USA?
US News gives us some interesting statistics on typical high school grade point averages. The average female student’s GPA is 3.10, while the average male student’s GPA is 2.90. These statistics give you a realistic benchmark for evaluating your own GPA, but think of this as a starting point. There are additional considerations you will want to keep in mind.
If your school uses weighted GPAs, comparing your weighted GPA against these benchmarks can give you the wrong impression about where you really stand.
How Admissions Counselors Standardize High School Grade Point Averages
The existence of weighted GPAs can make it challenging to compare some students’ work against the national average. This is because the rating scales are different. To successfully compare a weighted GPA against the average, it’s necessary to understand the system by which your desired school computes high school grade point averages.
The National Center for Education Statistics and some academic institutions use what’s known as Carnegie units to create a standardized comparison system. This system is based on classes featuring 120 hours of classroom instruction. To accurately compute the number of Carnegie units you’ve taken, you’ll need to have access to both your grades and the corresponding information regarding number of course credits for each class. The NCES has an article called “How is grade point average calculated?” that has more information you may find helpful on this topic.
What’s a Good GPA if You’re Seeking Admission to a Selective Academic Institution?
If you want to attend an Ivy League school, you’ll want your GPA to be as close to 4.0 as possible. If your high school uses a weighted system that includes additional credits for advanced placement or IB classes, ideally your GPA would be over 4.0.
A perfect 4.0 GPA is not essential for admittance to Ivy League schools. Your odds of gaining admittance to a highly selective school are still quite good if your GPA is above 3.7. While it is possible to attend a selective school if your GPA is below 3.7, you’ll have to show impressive results in other areas of your application.
If you’re a student who’s hoping to get into an excellent college, it’s important to keep in mind that your high school GPA is only one aspect of your complete college application package. While your grade point average is critically important, other factors like your standardized test scores, recommendation letters, essays and extracurricular activities are also crucial. We hope this information is helpful to you in understanding what is a good high school GPA.