2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Do colleges look at the hundredths digit of your GPA?

I'm just wondering, do colleges really care about the hundredth digit of your GPA? For example, would there be a discrepancy between someone with a 3.91 and similar ECs and test scores as someone else who has a 3.98?


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
2 years ago

Short answer: Yes, colleges look at your digits.

Long answer: The reason colleges will see your hundredth digit of your GPA is if that is the convention your school uses for grades versus the 1000th digit or rounding to the 10th digit. So far at the 2 High Schools I've attended my 1st school used 1000th digits for both the Weighted and Unweighted GPA on a 4.0 scale. And my 2nd school used 100th digits for a 100% scale so it published numbers like 94.80, or 96.60. or 95.70.

Most schools will evaluate you against the peers from your school or your school district who are applying to the same school. So if there are 5 people applying to Carnegie Mellon or Williams College, the CMU or Williams AOs will see whatever your HS counselor sends in the form of transcript for your peers in addition to a school profile report which breaks down how GPA and grades/grade weights are calculated.

Some schools like UC schools or Stanford, recalculate your UC gpa and Stanford gpa so what ever they do as their own convention takes precedence. I personally don't know if they use 10ths or 100ths.

The good news is that most school do not have some magical cutoff because grades both UWGPA and WGPA come in all shapes and sizes and there is no singular number that both American and International schools uses.

Case in point, you can go to 3 top boarding schools that all have a different scale, 1 might be a 100 pt scale, the other a 7 point scale and the last an 11 point scale. And then within each school, there might be grade inflation, grade deflation or a curved system where grades are assigned based on quartiles or quintiles so that that only 20% of the class get an A, B, C or Passing grade something like that. It's impossible to normalize all the tens of thousands of grade reports applicants submit. So the best that AOs can do is holistically make a judgment call.

Someone from Deerfield Academy might have a 93.00 GPA out of 100.00 and someone from Choate Rosemary Hall might have 3.98 UWGPA and a 4.35 WGPA and someone from Harvard Westlake might only have a WGPA of 4.30. So unless the Admissions Officer is familiar with each school's grading, reputation, course rigor and teaching methods, someone might pick the Choate applicant first, the HW applicant second and the Deerfield applicant third.

But the truth is that the DA student is the gem in this case since only 5% had a GPA of 93 and above, 25% of HW students had 4.30 GPAs, and about 30% of Choate seniors had a 3.98% UWGPA and above.

The analogy I will use is that every time a college admissions officer reads a file, it evaluates the applicant from a pool of other diamonds from that school or that school districts. Finding the perfect student is an iterative process that begins and ends often by looking at each student holistically against its own immediate competition.

So I hope by using my detailed example you can see that there is no hard rule about GPAs that work for all applicants. The best advice I can give you is to make sure that there are no holes, gaps or deficiencies in your academic and EC narrative.

Good luck.

2 years ago

Colleges rarely have a specific GPA cutoff, they are more so looking for what that GPA means. I would say there is a big difference for someone at my school who has a 3.91 and a 3.98 as that would be several (six or so) B's throughout high school vs one or two as my school is on quarters. However, if the person with the B's was taking 5 AP classes, they would have a much better chance of getting accepted. Since GPA is so specific to every high school and colleges are really looking at applications holistically, I would avoid getting bogged down in the tiny changes in your GPA and focus on creating a narrative that shows that you challenged yourself and thrived, or failed and were able to pick yourself back up.

Short answer: yes, they look at it to understand your narrative as best they can, and depending on how your school grades, a 0.07 like you have as an example is a huge difference.

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