The University of Michigan has announced that they will no longer be recalculating grade point averages for freshman and transfer admissions. To understand the significance of this announcement you need to understand how college’s typically recalculate GPA.
Recalculating a GPA can mean one of several things. Some colleges eliminate the grades from all courses that are not considered core courses. Under this system, grades in classes like music, phy ed, health, theatre, are not counted in the GPA used by the college for admissions purposes.
Another way to recalculate GPA is to eliminate all of the score increases that high schools give for honors, AP and IB classes. Here is how it works. If you high school gives a 4.0 for an “A” in a typical class, they may give a 5.0 for an “A” in an honors class and a 6.0 for an “A” in an AP class. Each high school awards these higher grade points according to their own policies and there is no uniformity in these policies. At some high schools, there is no extra GPA bump for an honors course or an AP course. At other schools, the bump is substantial.
To account for these variations among high schools, colleges will typically recalculate your grades using a standard method. So, the “A” you received in AP chemistry is going to be brought down to a 4.0. After rescoring all of the grades in excess of 4.0, the colleges recalculates your GPA. Under this method, everyone applying to that school will have a GPA of 4.0 or less since there are no bumps given. Colleges still consider whether you have taken AP and IB classes but for purposes of the GPA, they are not given extra credit.
Now, back to the University of Michigan. Their announcement means that they will not decrease the high school grade point averages submitted to them. Thus, if your high school gives 6 points for an “A” in an AP class, you will have a better GPA than the high school that only gives 4 points for an “A” in an AP. In essence they are encouraging high schools to inflate their grade point averages to look better for admissions to the University of Michigan.
This helps the University of Michigan since they no longer have to take the time to recalculate all of those GPAs. But for all of the students applying to Michigan, your chance of admission now depends, in part, on how many “bonus” points your high school gives for each grade. And that is no way to handle admissions.