September 10, 2015 - Posted by Assignment Reviews

What Grades do Colleges Look At? – All Grades are Not Created Equal

Students who plan to attend college monitor their GPA’s closely. Those GPA’s represent the average of all the grades of all the courses they have taken during their entire high school career – grades 9-12. Most colleges have a minimum GPA that they want to see in the students they accept, so, yes, a total GPA is important. But beyond that, the question of what grades do colleges look at becomes a bit more complicated.

All Grades are Really Not Equal

If you are applying to a college that is really known for its math and science programs, then, while your overall GPA is a consideration, you grades in math and science courses will be put under far more scrutiny. If, for example, you have an over 3.25 GPA but the GPA of your math and science coursework is 3.85, you will become a far more serious candidate. The school may want to see a minimum of an overall 3.5, but your obvious excellence in math and science will bend that “rule.” So, the answer to what grades do colleges look at can vary significantly based upon the school and what your declared major is.

What Grades do Colleges See?

The answer to this questions is pretty standard – only your grades from your high school work. Colleges do not really care about your academic record from middle school, because it really may not reflect the student you have become. Middle schoolers are notoriously at different levels of maturity, and the student who gets only mediocre grades in middle school may be that same student who matures a great deal and becomes a stellar students in high school. The opposite is also true, of course.

Do Colleges Look at Freshman Grades?

Again, the answer is yes, of course. However, again, this must be a tempered “yes.” Again, many freshmen are still immature and have yet to take their school studies seriously. Their grades may be quite mediocre as a result. However, if, over the course of the 4 years in high school, a student’s grades steadily improve, so that by the time they are applying to college, their most recent year or so reflect really superior grades, then a college will look at that very favorably. Obviously, the student has matured and has developed the right attitude toward academic studies. So, if you have pretty poor grades as a freshman, do not despair. Apply for that college you really like, even though it publishes a desired GPA higher than what you have.

Here’s the Takeaway

Overall GPA does matter when you apply to college. On the other hand, colleges do look more carefully at that transcript, to determine the following:

  1. Is your GPA in courses that relate to what you have stated is your desired major strong?
  2. Does your academic record over 4 years demonstrate that you have become a strong student or remained a strong student during your two final years in high school? These are predictors of how you will perform in college.

And the big takeaway? Do not let a lower than desired GPA stop you from applying. There are other considerations.

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