If you are a student in a Bachelor’s or a Master’s program, your GPA is something you have to be very concerned about. Let’s try to understand what a GPA is and how it can influence your college life and future prospects.

What Is GPA?

First of all, let’s define a GPA.

A grade point average (GPA) is a score that represents a student’s academic performance.

It is also one of the first things colleges will pay attention to determine the strength of a candidate. We covered the topic of acceptance rates before. College GPAs are very important and can influence students’ job prospects, chances to get into grad school, eligibility for scholarships, and so much more.

How to Сalculate a GPA?

The grades you receive (regardless of the system, be it numerical, letter-grade, or percentage one) correspond to quality points. A quality point is a number on a 4.0 scale between 0 and 4 (or a multiple of 4).

The highest grade you can get depending on the system (A, 10, 5, 100%, and so on) will equal the highest number on that scale—4.0.

A GPA converts the letters or percentages into numbers, then finds their average. Here is a typical letter grade and percentage grade to GPA conversion table:

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Letter Grade Percentage Grade GPA (4.0 Scale)
A+ 97-100 4.0
A 93-96 4.0
A- 90-92 3.7
B+ 87-89 3.3
B 83-86 3.0
B- 80-82 2.7
C+ 77-79 2.3
C 73-76 2.0
C- 70-72 1.7
D+ 67-69 1.3
D 65-66 1.0
F Below 65 0.0

Here is an example:

A student takes 6 classes and receives A’s in two of them, B’s in two of them, and a C in one of them. According to the table above,

  • The two A’s will each translate to 4.0.
  • The two B’s will each translate to 3.0.
  • The B- will translate to 2.7.

Simple calculations give us this: 4.0 + 4.0 + 3.0 + 3.0 + 2.7 ÷ 5 = 3.3.

So, the student’s average college GPA is 3.3.

What Is a Good GPA?

The question “What Is a Good GPA?” can be answered differently, as it depends on the level of education. It is easier to get a good GPA in high school than in college or university, so a GPA should always be considered depending on the context. BTW, there’s a great article about degrees and education costs: check out how much a Ph.D. cost.

What Is a Good GPA in High School?

According to the National Center for Education and Statistics, the average high school GPA is 86%, or 3.0, or a B average, which is also the minimum requirement for many college scholarships.

However, the decision is made by each college individually, and while some colleges are willing to accept everyone who wants to apply, most prestigious academic institutions require GPAs of 3.5 or higher.

What Is a Good College GPA?

A GPA can impact college life in several ways. First of all, the GPA expectations in college can vary by major and department, so depending on your specialization, you may be expected to study really hard and get good grades during the entire course of your studies, or your major may be less demanding.

Second, a good GPA makes a student eligible for financial aid programs, scholarships, and other financial support. Many colleges have a policy that requires a student to keep their GPA at least above the average GPA minimum (2.0); otherwise, financial aid may no longer be provided. There’s a useful blog post about student loan forgiveness scams and how to avoid them.

Besides, if your long-term goal is to do a doctorate and go to grade school, you have to make sure that your GPA is never lower than 3.0 or even 3.5 (that’s the minimum).

Finally, in many universities, a good GPA is a must for entering a certain club or association, and it’s a condition to be eligible to participate in some extracurricular activities like volunteering in college. So to the question “What is a good GPA in college?” the correct answer is the more effort you put forth, the more opportunities you’ll have.

Unweighted vs. Weighted GPA

There are two ways GPAs can be calculated: on an unweighted and on a weight scale. It is essential to know the difference. An unweighted GPA is what it means: regardless of the difficulty of the subject, an A is always a 4.0. 

In the case of weighted GPAs, the difficulty of a subject is taken into consideration. Besides, another evaluation scale is used—from 0 to 5.0. Therefore, an easier class where you got an A will be graded as a 4.0, and a more demanding class that you completed with an A will be marked as a 5.0.

Does GPA Really Matter?

As we’ve just covered, your GPA matters as much as you want to succeed by both being able to apply to top colleges and keeping up with your studies. For instance, the Ivy League colleges already expect a perfect GPA upon admission, and you will hardly be able to stay there for long if you don’t pay full attention to your studies.

Average GPA (weighted) of Accepted Students at Top Schools

University Average GPA (weighted) of Accepted Student
Princeton University 4.14
Harvard University 4.15
Columbia University 4.14
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 4.15
Yale University 4.10
Stanford University 4.13
Cornell University 4.05
University of Pennsylvania 4.10
Brown University 4.05
Dartmouth College 4.07

Surely enough, there are other things that colleges take into consideration while reviewing applications: personal achievements, volunteer experience, motivational college essays, letters of recommendation, etc. Yet, remember that colleges focus on studies, so GPAs will always come first.

Final Thoughts

We hope that in this article, we’ve answered the most common question, “What is considered a good GPA in college?” as well as many other GPA-related questions. Now you know all about GPAs, what good GPAs are, how to calculate a GPA, how important it is to get a good GPA if you want to apply to a top college, and all sorts of things. We hope that this information will help you evaluate your chances during college preparation and application and keep you focused and motivated during your college years.

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