How To Calculate High School GPA for College

GPA:  A three-letter acronym that high school students stress over when college admissions season start. Rightly so, because colleges take into account your GPA when they review your application.

But do you know that colleges do not take the GPA you received in high school at face value? We’ll show you how to calculate high school GPA college-admission style so you’ll be aware of how universities and colleges come up with your real GPA.


Why not just consider my GPA as it is?


The folks over at admissions do not just want to know if you’re a good student. They want to know if you are a good student among your peers. Besides, they need to compare you with all the other students applying for admission. What they do is use this formula that takes your grades and test scores and translates it into a rating. With this method, they can size you up against all the other applicants.


How will it affect my GPA?


Your weighted GPA sums up all your course ratings to show an average. What colleges do in their method is to remove all your non-academic courses from your GPA and only compute ratings from your core subjects. Meaning those A’s from cooking class and woodworking cannot be included in your GPA computation. Without the fluff of your electives, your grades will tell them how well you did in Math, Foreign Language, English/Language Arts, Social Studies and Science. Thus, your GPA might actually be higher or lower than what you received at your high school.


What’s the deal with my “weighted” GPA?


Some high school classes are much harder than others. Courses in Advance Placement (AP) and Honors require more work than regular ones. For this reason, your school gives more weight to ratings in these courses. For example, The A in your Remedial Algebra is not the same as the A in AP Calculus. High Schools give an extra percentage in calculating AP and Honors classes because of the extra rigor.


But take note: college admissions will be stripping the weighting of all your courses anyway. No, it doesn’t mean that all your APs and Honors courses will go to waste. These colleges will take this into account; but in their own sweet way.


So how do they really calculate high school GPA?


Actual systems vary from one college to another. However, an average process will go something like this:


1.  Removal of non-academic courses from consideration. No gym, theater, cooking, sports, music, shop classes. Don’t worry; they are for consideration in another part of your application.


2. Giving points to your core academic courses. How well did you do in Science, Math, Foreign Language, English and Social Studies? Colleges consider these courses the best measure of your academic abilities.


3. Adding points based on the rigor of coursework. What AP/Honors classes are available in your school? How many of those were you in?


4. Adding points based on student performance vs. peers. What is your class rank versus the number of students in your class?


5.  Giving considerations. If you had a rough time in ninth grade but went on to get better grades in the following years, colleges will take this into account. An upward trend in your grades is good news. They will also be considering excessive absences, illnesses and family issues.


But of course, your assessment does not end with the GPA calculation. A lot of things will still be considered for admission: Your SAT or ACT score, transcript, application, essays, recommendations and extracurricular involvements. Admissions will also be looking at your electives to get hints about your interests which may validate parts of your application.


The process of calculating your GPA in another way can actually work in your favor especially if your electives are weighing down your high school GPA. It also helps that you become aware of which areas you’d prioritize to make the grades that really count for admission. Learning this system works to your advantage as an applicant.


You may want to check out this high school GPA calculator for an estimate. If your school uses letter grades or percentages instead, you can convert your grades with this GPA Calculator High School 4.0 Scale.

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