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What's a Good GPA? GPA Requirements for College

A Plus Green

When you start applying to colleges, your GPA or grade point average is one of the first things a college admissions counselor will study. Schools generally have more applications than they have spots on campus, so they’ll use factors such as your GPA, standardized test scores (if required), sports, and activities to decide who will be accepted. Many universities have waived standardized test scores for admission through 2022, so they will be looking more closely at students’ GPAs when they’re evaluating applications.

Your GPA is a quick gauge of how well you’ve done during your high school career. It’s also an important indicator of how well you’ll likely do in college. So, having a good GPA means you’ll have more options when it comes to choosing a college that’s right for you. Good grades also can lead to scholarships to help pay for college, so it’s definitely in your best interest to do your best from day one of high school to earn a good GPA.

What is a Good GPA?

Having a “good” GPA really depends on which colleges you would like to attend. If you have your hopes set on attending a highly selective four-year university, you’ll want to stand out from other applicants. A good way to achieve this is to have a GPA of around 3.8 or higher. To earn a GPA that high, you’ll need to get mostly A’s in your classes in high school. If you already have a GPA that high, way to go!

Fortunately, there are many excellent schools in North Carolina and around the country where a GPA of around 3.0 (mostly B’s in high school) will get you accepted and on the path to earning a degree.

Remember that college admission calculations change from year to year, depending on how many students are applying and how their GPAs compare to one another. Students can look up average secondary GPAs for many schools with the CFNC College Search tool. This can give you a better idea of whether your GPA will be competitive at the schools you’re interested in attending.

How Do Weighted and Unweighted Courses Affect Your GPA?

In high school, students can earn higher than the standard 4.0 GPA by taking Advanced Placement (AP) and Honors level courses. Depending on your school, you could receive an extra .5 to 1 full point for taking a weighted course instead of an unweighted course.

So, if you take AP Statistics and receive an A in the class, your weighted grade will earn you 5 points instead of the standard 4 points toward your weighted GPA. That means you could graduate with a weighted GPA that’s higher than 4.0, which is very impressive!

Can Taking High-Level Courses Improve Your Chances of Getting into College?

The weighted GPA system encourages and rewards students for taking challenging courses in high school. College admissions officers will be very interested in the difficulty of the coursework you’ve taken during your high school career. If you’re getting A’s in AP-level coursework, that’s a good sign that you’ll do well in college-level coursework.

If you’re taking advanced-level courses, but your GPA is lower than another applicant who’s taking all unweighted classes, you will still be the more competitive applicant because you’re taking more challenging courses. However, if math isn’t your thing, don’t take a bunch of AP math classes that will tank your grades. The weighted scale won’t magically transform a bad GPA into a good GPA.

Should a Student With a Low GPA Give Up on College?

Absolutely not! For one reason or another, you may have had a difficult time in high school and were not able to achieve the GPA requirements for some colleges. Don’t let that stop you from pursuing higher education if you truly want college to be part of your future!

Use the free CFNC College Search tool to make a list of schools you’re interested in attending. Complete an amazing college application to make you stand out. Use your college essay as an opportunity to discuss why your GPA may not be the best reflection of who you are as a student and why you believe college is the right place for you.

Consider enrolling at your local community college to earn an associate degree in a two-year academic program. This will give you the opportunity to earn a degree and improve your GPA, in case you want to transfer to a four-year college or university to earn a bachelor’s degree. Discuss your plans with your academic advisor to make sure your classes will transfer to the four-year schools you may want to attend.

Apply to College

Now that you have a better idea of how your grades and GPA requirements for colleges could affect which schools you get into, it’s time to start applying to colleges!

The CFNC Application Hub is a helpful resource for students to submit applications, send official high school transcripts, and monitor the progress of their applications all in one convenient location. CFNC is an important resource to support students and parents on the journey to higher education!

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