How to Calculate and Improve High School GPA

How to Calculate and Improve High School GPA 

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Co-authored by Renae Hintze


What if instead of a paper with an “A” written on the top, your teacher handed you $103,800? Wishful thinking right? 

Actually, no. Because that A on your paper is actually worth…

Your grades are potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in money toward college… and the best part about it? You don’t need to have a 4.0 GPA.

In fact as you will learn later, even an 11th grade student with a 2.6 GPA still has hope! So let’s talk about how to calculate and improve High School GPA.

How to Calculate High School GPA

Weighted GPA and Unweighted GPA

The standard formula for calculating High School GPA is this:High School GPA formulaHowever, as you may know, there are 2 different KINDS of GPA:

  1. Weighted
  2. Unweighted

Ok, so what’s the difference? Mainly, they assign different grade point values to each grade you receive. Here’s a quick, eyeball comparison of the two!Weighted GPA vs

What does this mean for how I calculate my High School GPA? 

First and foremost you need to know what your High School goes by. That will determine the GPA that shows up on your transcripts to college. THEN, you need to know what the college you’re applying to is looking for in terms of High School GPA.

Which brings me to my next point.

Using a High School GPA Calculator

There are several High School GPA calculators out there that you can use. To try one, check out CSU Mentor’s High School GPA calculator.

This particular GPA calculator calculates both your weighted AND unweighted GPA — see here?CSU Mentor High School GPA CalculatorWhen you’re calculating your High School GPA, it’s also important that you keep in mind the colleges you plan on applying to…

Because different colleges look at different things! The majority of schools look at unweighted GPA. Some schools look at both. UC Berkeley, for example, looks at both weighted and unweighted GPA in their admissions.

As a rule of thumb, you should always aim for a high unweighted GPA. But you’ll want to research the college you’re interested in.

Go to their website or call their admission’s office to ask about weighted and unweighted High School GPA for admissions.

5 Tips for How to Improve High School GPA

Remember when I said you could get $103,800 dollars to University of Alabama or a full tuition + room and board scholarship to Alfred State College in New York? 

Well these scholarships are ONLY available if you maintain a strong GPA. Lucky for you it is NEVER too late to increase your GPA.

Starting strong is always optimal but if your student is getting ready to apply to college with only a 2.6 GPA, don’t give up just yet!

Check out step 4 to learn how even they can increase their GPA in order to get a piece of that scholarship pie.

1. Start Strong

Your first 2 year of High School set the foundation for your High School GPA. To make them count, students need to:

Essentially, you want to avoid damage control (a bad grade that you have to scramble to raise). Some colleges will drop your Freshmen grades, but don’t get stuck pulling straws — put in the work NOW so you don’t have to later.

2. Get a Tutor

What's going on Baxter?This is a classic scenario with High School students their Freshman year (and one we actually experienced with Baxter Chapman!). Odds are your student may say something similar, even if their grades aren’t doing so hot.

Ok, so how do I know if my student needs tutoring? 

Look for the 6 signs that your child needs tutoring.

But if my child is smart enough, can’t they just figure it out on their own? 

Well, first-off, tutoring isn’t just for students who are struggling. Think of it this way: Even the most accomplished novelist still needs an editor to go over their work. Even the most accomplished athlete still hires a personal trainer.

How expensive is tutoring?? 

Let me show you something.

improve high school GPA

 

Here’s an example of what it can mean to pay for academic tutoring: With a little help, your student can boost their High School GPA and unlock hundreds of potential scholarships and college admissions.

3. Talk to your Teachers

Trust me when I say you should always, always, always talk to your teachers about how to do well in their class. It’s a no-brainer — It’s THEIR class, and THEY are the ones giving you grades for the assignments. Plus, they want you to succeed.

Here’s a few ways you can utilize this:

  • When you get a bad grade, ask them to show you what you did wrong. (Pro-tip: Use our Teacher Evaluation sheet! :))

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 9.23.49 AM

  • When they mention an upcoming assignment or test, stay after class to get more info — ask What can I do to receive a high grade on this?
  • If you don’t understand a concept or instructions, RAISE YOUR HAND. And if you still don’t, stay after class to sort it out

Any time your teacher says something more than once about a quiz or assignment, write it down. They’re not just talking for their health!

This goes for anytime you have something clarified or ask for further instructions from your teacher. Write it ALL down. You can reference it later if you forget it.

4. Re-Take Classes for Better Grades

Bad grades happen. If you get one, don’t give up! There are several ways for you to ditch that ugly letter and get a newer, shinier one to take it’s place:

  • Re-take classes during the school year (Talk to your counselor about fitting in a make-up class in place of an elective)
  • Make it up in summer school
  • Work with a teacher to bring up individual assignment grades

Now typically, students apply to college early in their Senior year of High School. While senior grades DO still count towards your admissions, colleges will definitely look at your GPA for Junior year.

What happens when you finish out your Junior year with a 2.6 GPA? Is all hope lost?

Not at all! Check out this miniature case study:casestudy-breakdownWondering what other automatic, merit-based scholarships are out there?

Check out the top 10 Merit-Based Scholarship schools.

5. Rack in bonus points where you can

Here’s the thing. If you took a class in Middle School that was taught at a High School level, there’s a chance you can pull that grade up to your High School GPA. But you ONLY want to do this if you got an A.

It makes no sense to pull up a B if you could try again for an A, right?

How do you do this?

First, check to see if you earned any A’s in High School level courses. If you did, talk to your counselor about pulling that bad boy up!

The Benefits of a High School GPA

Remember how I showed you that you can pay $196 a month for tutoring and receive $887 in the same month?

That’s because of the ASU Presidential Merit Scholarship that you would AUTOMATICALLY receive when you applied to Arizona State University with a High School GPA of 3.6 and at least a 1350 on the SAT.

In fact you could even earn $1,966.50 per month to the University of Alabama with a 3.5 GPA and a 1400 SAT score.

If a 3.5 sounds too high, remember that you don’t NEED a high GPA to earn scholarships. In my example above, Johnny Student only had a 2.6 GPA to start raised it to a 3.0 with some grade improvement strategies, and still received a total of $48,000 towards his college years.

Want to learn even more? Check out our free scholarship webinar here! 

Conclusion

To summarize, your GPA can earn you hundreds of thousands in money for college. When your teacher hands you back an assignment or quiz with an A on it, it’s like they’re handing you money. So rake in the green by using this tips for how to calculate and improve your High School GPA!!

To review, what I talked about was…

1. How to calculate High School GPA:

  • Unweighted GPA and Weighted GPA
  • How to use a High School GPA calculator

2. How to improve High School GPA:

  • Start strong (build a foundation with freshman and sophomore year)
  • Find out how your High School’s GPA is scored
  • Talk to your teachers (They want to help!)
  • Re-take classes for better grades

3. The Benefits of a High School GPA!

Want more help? Try our # 1 private tutoring program guaranteed to take away your stress and maximize your scholarships.  Click here to start today!

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students raise their grades, improve their test scores, get into their dream college with thousands in scholarships, and learn digital age skills they are not teaching in schools so they can reach their wildest of dreams. I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. On my free time I travel (been to 35+ countries), rock climb big walls, and go to music festivals! Let's become friends! Follow me via Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter!

Comments 61

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  1. Right now I have a Gpa of 2.8 unweighted and am a Junior in the second semester of highschool and I was wondering if there is any way I could pull my grade up to 3.6 unweighted.

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      Yes, but it would require some work. If it is in your budget I would highly suggest getting a private tutoring and some professional guidance. Otherwise, keep reading our blog articles I follow the steps we provide! Make sure to get some after school help from your teachers as well! Best of luck to you!

  2. I am a senior in high school. I have one more semester to go. Can I raise my cumulative GPA from a 2.1465 to a 2.300 in one semester?

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      That may be difficult. May I ask why, though? What schools are you trying to be accepted to? What is the objective you have? You may realize it is not necessary. Please reply, and I can help further!

  3. Hi there!
    My name is Ellie and i am a junior this year. I had a good freshman year, a horrible first semester of sophomore year, an ok second semester of sophomore year, and am working really hard my junior year to be back on top. I have have a GPA of about 3.67 but I need to raise it about 2% to ensure my place in the college of my choice. Help?
    Thanks!

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  4. Hi I have 2.8842 gpa and I’m starting right know junior year I have six A’s and one B can I raise my gpa during junior and senior year ? Does college look to senior year ? Does senior year matter ? I want to apply to VCU and George mason university can you help me please thanks you 🙂

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  5. Hello I have 3.0 right now and I’m in my 1st semester of my sophomore year if I get all As this whole school year would I be able to have a 3.5 or 3.9 at the end of the school year.

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  6. Im a Junior in high school with a 3.3 gpa uw and 4.2 w, if i plan on getting all A’s this year with hard work and dedication how much do you think i could raise my gpa by, im in the top 20% of my class and i want to do better to get into UNC!!!

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      Hi Sam,

      Receiving all A’s this year could definitely give your GPA a significant boost. Plus, if you can go back and look at what past grades brought your GPA down from a 4.0, you may be able to pinpoint a class that it is possible for you to re-take and receive an A for.

      I also strongly recommend that you do research specifically on UNC and what their admission requirements are. You can call the university to speak to a college admissions advisor, who can give you information in regards to what the average GPA and test scores of accepted students were this past year. Then, shoot for those numbers on your own. You should also ask them what “other” qualities they look for in student applications.

      If they require an essay to be submitted for their admissions, google past essays from students who were accepted into UNC and see what kind of writing they did. What subjects did they tackle? What approach did they take? What are common elements in their writing?

      In the future it will be immensely helpful for you to research a company before they interview you. This will increase your chances of being hired by that company. In the same way, you should research the specific school you are applying to before you apply.

  7. I have a 2.6 unweighted and a 2.9 weighted I’m in my first semester of my junior year of high school. What do I need to do to get to a 3.0 by the end of high school

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      Hi Thomas,

      Right off the bat, it’s tough to say. There is no blanket answer for how to raise everyone’s test scores and/or GPA… it depends on the student and their individual situation. We have a couple resources I can direct you to that may help you understand your situation a little better! The first is our free College Readiness Celeb quiz. Answer more specific questions about your grades, test scores, etc. and find out which College-Ready celeb you most resemble. Second is this article we wrote recently on the tough questions we get asked by students who are preparing for college: Am I Ready for College? 4 Tough Questions Answered. Check out the infographic under Question 2: Is there time to bounce back after a bad semester? It shows a student who has just finished his last semester of junior year with a 2.6 GPA and how he raises it to a 3.00. As you have mentioned, you also have a 2.6, but you’re already in better shape than the example because you’re not yet ending your junior year.

  8. I took Geometry Honors in 8th grade and got a B. It is dragging my GPA down, and it sucks because I didn’t even take it in high school. Do you think there is any way I could retake it this year and replace it with an A? I am currently in 10th grade. This is a great article, thank you!

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      Hi Julianna,

      Yes, it is possible that you could re-take it. I would schedule an appointment with your High School advisor to talk about your options as far as correcting a grade that was received prior to High School. If the grade is currently factoring in your overall High School GPA, then you should be able to adjust it.

  9. I am senior in high school. My gpa is 3.3125. I don’t think I will be able to get into a good college. My class ranking is 58 out of 340, which means that i am not in the top ten percent, which means i don’t receive the scholarship money that comes with that. Is it too late to get my gpa up before I apply to college?

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      Are you a first or second semester senior? We answer this question, “If I’m a senior with low GPA/Test Scores, do I still have a chance?” in our article: Am I Ready for College? 4 Tough Questions Answered.

      If by “good college”, you mean an elite university/Ivy League like Stanford or MIT, you would need to raise that 3.3 GPA to increase your chances of getting in. It would also depend on your test scores. In your first semester of senior year, there is still time to move some classes around, depending on what brought your GPA down. In your second semester, you’ll want to consider taking community college classes to raise your GPA and work with the advisors at that college to eventually transfer over to an Elite/Ivy League school.

      As a third option, there are other colleges out there who WILL accept you with a 3.3 (Again, your test scores are also going to factor into this) For one, University of Arizona awards merit-based scholarships (Scholarships that are automatically awarded based on your GPA and test scores) for a 3.0 GPA. You can take a look at some other scholarships offering in our article: Top 10 Merit Based Scholarships. If you’re eligible for the scholarships at a college, you’re most likely a good candidate for admissions.

  10. Hi! I have a 3.3 GPA right now and I am an upcoming junior in high school. I will be taking two AP courses and one pre AP course. If I do well junior year, how high do you think my GPA will raise? Do pre AP courses affect my GPA the same way AP courses do?

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  11. Hello, I am going into my sophomore year in high school and my GPA is a 1.25. What grades should i get and what can i do to boost my GPA up?

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      Hi Davina,

      First, I’d like to share with you our new College Readiness Celebrity Quiz! It’s free, and it will give you an idea of where you stand as far as being ready for college and what steps you can take to be on the right track: http://bit.ly/amireadyforcollege

      I also recommend that you look into getting some tutoring. One-on-one tutoring allows you to troubleshoot and pinpoint the EXACT areas you are struggling in and bring your grades up through a customized study approach. Check it out at this link here: http://student-tutor.com/academic-tutoring/

      Thanks for reading!

  12. Hi , I have around a 2.0 gpa & I am currently a sophomore about to be a junior this semester , I would like to know if it is possible for me to receive a 3.0 & higher in my remaining years ? The ending of freshman year & sophmore year was a low point in my life & I wanted to know if I can fix it and turn it all back around

    Thank you

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  13. Hello, I have a weighed GPA of a 3.7 and a unweighted of a 2.9. I’m a Junior going into my senior year and I’m taking 3 AP courses for the summer. I want to know is it to late to raise my GPA. However I am going to take 3 more after I’m done with the first 3. I want a 3.5 unweighed so I wanted to know if its too late to get that. I’m also taking IB courses when school starts

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      Hi Selena,

      Thanks for your comment! We’ve had such a large amount of students asking for feedback on their college readiness that we decided it was time we did something besides answer your questions here. Sooo we are creating a new resource that should be ready soon for you to use. We’ll shoot you an email when it’s ready and it should help to answer your questions!

  14. Im not sure what my gpa is right now. I going into my junior year. As a freshmen, I took all honors classes except for french. My average in all the classes was a B+ and in french it was an A-. In my sophomore year, I took all honors classes except for french as well. My average in all the classes was a B- except for math (i got a 79 percent average). For my junior year, I am taking honors pre calc, academic french, academic english, academic physics, academic human biology, and honors gov and economics. Sophomore year really tripped me ( and i was sick a lot ) so I dropped down to a lot of academic classes. I plan on shaping up junior year so that I will go back to honors classes my senior year. I am in band as well if that helps at all XD. I also do a lot of extra curricular activities like marching band, lacrosse, and piano.
    My question is –>
    1. what is my gpa
    2. what do i need to get into the University of Pittsburgh (average 4 year gpa, sat score, etc.)
    3. I am going to work really hard my junior year, but i am just scared that whenever college admission season comes, I am not going to get into the school I want so “easy” and that my parents would be disappointed at me.
    4. I am taking an honors pre calc course during the summer to ensure i will do better in math my junior year compared to sophomore year. I am also taking sat prep.
    5. Am I ok? … I am just really scared because I didnt do so well my sophomore year so my gpa probably dropped and i am taking a lot of academic classes my junior year and no ap classes.
    6. what can i do more to make my “profile” look better for the college i want to go to?

    Thank you

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      Hi Christy,

      I’m glad you’re reaching out to us. We are in the process of creating a new resource that will help to answer your questions, and if you’re OK with it we can shoot you an email when it’s ready!

  15. Hi, I’m Izzy!

    So I had an outstanding Freshman year and finished with a GPA of like 4-point-something and I was really proud of myself. But now that Sophomore has hit me, it has taken me on a rocky road… But I’ve been on all Honors (with the exception of Math,) and/or AP classes. I actually got recommended for AP English but decided not to take it because I fell behind in my History this year and need to catch up on that my Junior year. *Yea…*

    ANYWAYS,I guess my point is, my GPA will not be great this year… We’re in the middle of exams right now so I don’t have my final grades, but I’m assuming my GPA will turn out to be something like a 3.7… Is that bad? I’m SO nervous about what’s gonna happen especially because I am not doing well in my Math class and have a really bad feeling about our exam which is this Tuesday, AH, HELP ME!

    1. OH, and I forgot to mention… I want to Major in English and Minor in Theatrical Performance or Music… (I might think about switching things up and Majoring in Music and Minoring in English, I don’t know hahaha.) But I still want as good as a GPA that I can get so I’m more likely to get scholarships and all that; because I live in North Carolina and I am most likely to go to an our-of-state college, and my family does NOT a=have a lot of money, so I need all the scholarship opportunities that I can get.

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        Hi there Izzy,

        Thanks for the comment. 🙂 We are working on a new resource that will help to answer your questions (due to the large volume of questions we’ve been receiving.) We would be happy to shoot you an email when it is finished!

  16. im a freshmen and have two C’s and those two c’s are in my honor classes . so basically I’m wondering if thats going to affect my overall grade later on ?

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      Hi Sarah,

      Fortunately we are working on a resource that will help to answer these questions for you. Let me know if you’d like us to shoot you an email when it’s ready. 🙂

  17. I have a 2.9 GPA right now and I’m a sophomore, I’m taking 2 honors classes this year and 2 regular classes, exams are coming up in a few weeks, I’ve already taken care of my missing work but I’ve recently been getting low test grades in one of my honors classes, and in my other honors class I have high test grades but 70s – low 80s for homework, which has brought me down from a 95 to an 88. Is there anything I can do?

    1. Hi Lucas,

      Laura jumping in here. I used to teach Honors Math & AP Psychology at a high school in Arizona and am also certified in California.

      So it sounds like you are asking about maybe how to perform better on exams? Do you feel like you understand the homework but then do not do as well when it comes to the test time?

      One thing I can advise is that since you are getting low 80’s for your homework grades, it would be a good idea to schedule more time in your planner for the homework. It sounds like there is some room for improvement there! And that will help you better understand the material AND have better things to review before it comes time for a quiz or test (reviewing past homework is a smart test-studying strategy).

      I would also recommend going to your teacher’s “office hours” to ask extra questions if he/she offers that.

      Then, of course, tutoring will help too! Maybe there are just a few concepts here or there that you haven’t fully mastered that are ‘messing things up’ as you work on some problems or assignments. Sometimes a tutor can help your process through that and fully ‘get it’ when it is hard to in a packed classroom where the teacher has to keep going fast on to the next thing to squeeze it all in.

      And if you feel you get test anxiety, here is a helpful article just on that! http://student-tutor.com/blog/how-to-overcome-test-anxiety/

      I hope this helps! 🙂

      Laura

  18. Hi, i have a 2.8 (10-12) GPA (the GPA required to apply to colleges) and i am a Junior, what grades should i get this semester to get a 3.0? I plan on going to UCLA and UC colleges.

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      Hi Nihaar, to answer your question I would first need to know all of your current grades that make up your GPA. As you saw in the example above with Johnny raising his F to a C by retaking his course over the summer, there is the possibility to gain some extra points toward your GPA before you graduate.

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          Hi Nihaar,

          It sounds like your GPA has dropped since your last comment. Unfortunately in your senior year this is going to limit the amount of colleges you have a chance at.

          If you have your sights set on a more elite university, I recommend that you take the community college route. Take a year to raise your GPA, and then apply to the university you originally wanted to get into. Community colleges may also provide you resources on how to successfully transfer schools.

  19. Hi Todd, thanks for the article. I wanted to point out the many varieties of GPA scales. While most are based on a 4.00 scale, many also give a 4.33 value to an A+. Honors and AP courses vary from 0.5 to 2 quality points. That’s why some schools grant max 6.0 GPAs. You posted a link to a decent GPA calculator, but I’d also suggest you take a look at http://www.afouro.com, which allows students to use a huge variety of common GPA systems. That’s all!

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      Author

      Great comment David, thank you for clarifying. Thank you also for sharing another GPA calculator — I’ll have to play with it more myself but so far it looks like a very useful resource for students.

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      Author

      With a 3.6 GPA there are plenty of scholarship and college opportunities, but it really depends on what you are looking for in specific. For example, UofA offers merit-based scholarships to students with 3.0 GPAs if they are accompanied by a certain standardized test score. Different universities have different standards for what GPA, test scores, and other factors influence their admissions decisions. If you wanted to be accepted into a more elite university, it may not be high enough. It is all relative.

  20. Knowledge is power; or so they say, but is it really true? You could have knowledge on subjects no one else does, but if you cannot utilize it properly, what is its value? Before, I was concerned by how one assignment, one added B to my overall grades; would drop my GPA, from a 4.0 to a 3-point something. I have come to realize now, that no matter how hard I try, it does not matter. My GPA does not influence my future, so much as the amount of stress I undergo while concerning myself with it. However, the lack of care towards anything, even the most frivolous of matters (let alone the topic of grades), can turn out from simple laziness, to the loss of important opportunities. Many students say that they would choose their current happiness over their GPA; only if it would last a little longer. But then I question: is it not the reason behind our efforts in school, so that we may have a better, brighter future? If we do not receive that, even after working so hard in high school, won’t we lose hope, and not try anymore?

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      Author

      I have to agree with you to a great extent that in the end GPA does not matter. In fact, after you get into college no one even asks you about your GPA again unless they just want to compare themselves to you in some arbitrary way. 😄

      There is SO MUCH MORE to life and happiness and success than grades and GPA. That is 100% true.

      On the flip side, if you do want to increase your chances of getting into certain colleges, it is true that they use this score as a criteria to make their decision. Therefore, if you want to increase your chances, it serves to reason to work toward increasing the score.

      Beyond that, it is important to take all factors of one’s own goals, desires, stress levels, and future plans into account and weigh out just how much they should focus on this score.

      Ultimately it is a personal decision.

      We just want to provide the best info we can for those who do want to increase it.

      And I so value you sharing your thoughts and insights here. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your personal insights! Wonderful to hear.

  21. I have a 3.3 GPA and I want to know if that’s a good GPA. Also, I want to start applying for college but I failed the first semester for Anatomy. Is there a possibility to start applying for college without a half of credit for science?

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      Author

      Based on some research, the average high school GPA (overall) is a 3.00. So you’re just slightly above average with a 3.3. What schools are you looking to get into, and for what major or program? This would help determine where you stand as far as the science credit.

  22. I have a 2.6 gap and I’m a junior in high school I’m taking elective classes and I’m hoping to get bs $ As in them for two quarters and then my senior year I plan on taking more elective classes. Will I have to take the community college route or do you think I’ll be ok.

    1. Post
      Author

      Jack,

      Sorry I did not answer your comment sooner. Please don’t hesitate to give one of our Academic Advisors a call: (844) 508-8867. From there we can determine the best way to proceed in your situation. Thanks for reaching out!

  23. I’m a senior in highschool and i’m starting the college application process is their still hope for money and acceptance with colleges if i have a 1.9 GPA?

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      Matt, there is hope but you will need to take the community college route. I suggest you create some goals for yourself, write them down, do well in community college,and then transfer to a public university. There are also plenty of private based scholarships you can apply to. Hope this answers your question!

  24. I love this article! Knowledge is power when it comes to GPA’s. Even the best need support, from athletes to famous musicians, there is always someone checking in and making sure that they’re doing exactly what they need to in order to succeed. Great article

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      Author

      Yes this is very true! I myself have mentors to hold me accountable. If you are looking to get into an elite university having a tutor to help guide you a long the way is essential for long term success! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the article.

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