2 years ago
Admissions Advice

GPA Advice

Hi, I'm currently a freshman and my GPA is 3.83, unweighted. I'm worried about how to bring it up, as I want to impress top colleges which usually accept students with 3.97+. Although I know GPA isn't the only factor in college admissions, I want to be able to show admissions officers that I am able to handle rigor/excel in difficult courses. Does anyone have tips when struggling in harder classes/better study techniques for advanced math courses?

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Accepted Answer
2 years ago[edited]

I don't have any studying advice for you with harder or math courses but I think you should not focus so much on an arbitrary UWGPA goal like 3.97.

It would be better for you to work with a high school counselor or someone that understands college admissions to help you figure out how to map out your HS courses and set goals for your ECs, Sports, Community Service and other Leadership roles.

As top colleges get more and more competitive, the criteria shifts away from the academic stats like GPA/Test Scores, and more toward your Essays, ECs, Intellectual Vitality and Personal Character.

College like Harvard and Stanford have so many perfect GPA applicants that GPA itself is not the best measure of ones ability to succeed in college. I say this because over the last 10 or 20 years, there has been rampant GPA creep and all GPAs are now suffering from grade inflation. A 3.97 at one school doesn't mean a 3.97 at another school. And unlike a standardized test like the ACT or SAT, someone with a 3.97 might only look good on paper, and not have evidence that they actually mastered anything well because they didn't challenge themselves with APs/IBs or college courses. So someone with a 3.80 who took 10 APs and got 4s and 5s on their AP exams, is a better applicant than someone who took 2 APs and has a perfect 4.0 but didn't take the AP exams. Context is everything.

And where you attend HS makes big difference. If you live in a big city and attend a huge HS, there might be 100 kids with a 95.00+ GPA out of 100.00. And if you apply to Ivy league school with a 95.00 (3.80 UWGPA) you might have little chances of getting in. But if you attend an elite private boarding school and are a recruited athlete, you might get into an Ivy with an 88.00 (3.52). I think many CV members on here think the playing field is level and they just have to check off the boxes and they have a decent chance of getting in to their top choice. But that's not true at all. It realistically might be 10 times harder to get into an Ivy, Elite or Top Liberal Arts college coming out of Public HS vs a Private Boarding School regardless of which City or State you live in. Why I mention this is because 90% of people applying to top colleges don't even realize that the playing field is so unfavorable for them, yet they keep on applying to the same hard schools year after year, class after class, repeating the same disappointment over and over like Ground Hog Day the movie. I looked at my Public HS Naviance scatter plots and in the past 6 years, like 50 people applied to Princeton, Brown and Caltech and Williams.NOT 1 single person got in. The data is all there. So I decided not to apply to those schools because why???

The better move would be to have a more realistic view of where you can get into and apply to more targets or hard targets and maybe on a a couple reaches for the heck of it. But if you apply to all 8 Ivys, Stanford, Duke, MIT, UChicago and only have a couple safeties like State schools, you may be setting yourself up for a whole bunch of whoop @ss unless you are the class Valedictorian, school president, 1st chair violinist, editor in chief of the newspaper, captain of the State Champion sports team, and community service leader extraordinaire, like having a 40%-50% CV chancing rating for that school. If most of your top choices are schools where you have 15-25%, it's time to find some more schools.

Try to be the best version of yourself everyday and pursue things that are important to you and things that you can thrive in and show evidence of success in them. If you are shy introverted person, challenge yourself to be more outspoken and join the Debate team or the Constitutional Law competition. Try out for a sports team that leverages what you are good at. Be brave, fearless and don't worry about failure. Things will fall into place if you have the right attitude.

One of my dad's favorite quotes is "water always finds its level". What that means is that you will end up where you are supposed to and sometimes the hardest lesson in life is to accept that journey might be more important than reaching the destination. It's nice if you can have both but for some it's not always possible.

Hope you can create a game plan that is both achievable and rewarding in your process to become a competitive college applicant in 3 years.

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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