One of the most common, and most important, questions I ask prospective students is “what is your GPA.” But I’ll let you in on a secret. When you tell me what your weighted GPA is, I don’t know what it means.
Here’s the problem.
Last time I discussed weighted vs unweighted grades and what those terms meant. But what I didn’t tell you is that there is no uniform method for weighting grades. Some high schools give one extra point for an AP class. Some give one point for an honors class but two points for an AP class. Some give three points for an AP class. One high school I have worked with gives six extra points for an AP class. Some only give half a point for an AP class. And some high schools don’t use weighted grades at all.
When you tell me your weighted GPA is a 4.5, that may be great given how your school weights grades. But it might be an average GPA at some other high school.
Are you started to get an idea of the problem here? When a college gets a weighted GPA in from a high school they are trying to compare it to the weighted or unweighted GPA from another high school. And with no uniformity in how the weighting is done, they don’t know if you are a great or average student.
That is why the majority of colleges in this country strip all of the weighting out of your grades and rely on the good old 4.0 system. In other words, a 4.0 is as high as your GPA can possibly be.
Now you may be worried that, while your grades are good, they are not as good as that kid that took all of the shop and phy ed classes your school offers. Have no fear. Colleges are looking at your GPA but they are also looking to see what classes you took to get that GPA. You need good grades in serious academic subjects to be a good candidate for a selective college.
If you are interested in attending a highly selective college, and your high school gives you your weighted GPA, go to your guidance counselor to see if they can also give you your unweighted GPA. That way, we can all understand what we are talking about.