GPA and College Admissions

Your grade point average (GPA) is one of the most important factors colleges look at when reviewing applications for admission.  Grades in college prep courses were the most important factor weighing in to the admissions decision according to a National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC).

Selecting the right courses to prepare your for college is equally important.  Advanced Placement (AP) courses are viewed as superior to regular courses on a student's high school transcript, and core offerings such as history, math, English, science and foreign language will generally carry more weight than elective courses.  Ultimately, curriculum and GPA need to balance out on the student's transcript.

Earning straight A’s in the easiest classes is not enough to earn acceptance into top colleges. To gain admission into a competitive or Ivy League college, you must take Honors or Advanced Placement classes.  Any good educational consultant will be able to assist you with this process.  Have the consultant check their average GPA for incoming freshman so that you have a goal in mind.  The consultant should be able to develop a step-by-step plan for you to earn admission into your school of choice.

It’s also important to look for opportunities to increase your grades.  Ask your teacher about extra credit assignments or consider working with a tutor.  Taking Advanced Placement to demonstrate your ability to complete higher level coursework, and take the most advanced classes that your high school offers related to your future career path.

GPA for College Admissions:

The more prestigious of college you choose, the more you will have to raise your GPA.  For Ivy League or very selective schools, you will need a GPA of 3.5 or higher taking AP classes for core subjects.  As a general rule, schools and universities want to see that the student was able to balance coursework, volunteer work, and extra-curricular activities without a large impact to GPA.

If your GPA is just not high enough to get into the college you desire, you might try focusing additional efforts in these areas:

Extracurricular Activities:

Students can come across better-rounded in their college applications by participating in activities that show extra effort, commitment, and interest in areas related to their desired major.  If you are interested in studying accounting or engineering, join the Math Club.  If you are studying law, you might consider joining the Debate Team.  Consider volunteering with your local community center, retirement home, or religious organization.  Look for leadership role in your school clubs or in student government and be sure to list these on your college application.


While each college or university is different, many place importance on the level of commitment needed to participate in high school sports teams.  Often the level of commitment needed to succeed in sports while balancing a heavy course load provides excellent material to include in your personal statement required by many colleges.

College Testing:

Students applying to multiple colleges may need to take both the SAT and ACT.   Fortunately, you can take the SAT and ACT many times.  Working with an educational consultant is a great way to improve your standardized testing scores.  Dr. Bishop has assisted many students improve their standardized testing scores by significant margins.


Most college applicants will need to plan on obtaining 3 references for the admissions process. Again, a good educational consultant will be able to assist you identify and approach these individuals.  It’s important to establish good relationships months before you will need a recommendations letter.

While many applicants will simply identify 3 teachers, it is recommended to find references that will demonstrate different sides of personal and academic life.  Often friends, family members, and associates will be able to connect you with community leaders and other individuals that would make top references.  Alumni from the school you are applying too often make good references as they will be able to speak to having the characteristics needed to perform well at the school.  However it’s important that you actually to some type of work under the reference as a volunteer, employee, or as a student so that the recommendation has credibility. 

College Essays:

Another way to present yourself favorably on the college application is to create an essay that demonstrates the best of your writing ability.  Working with an educational consultant is the perfect way to ensure you have a great essay to include in your application.  The consultant should work with you on choosing a topic, outlining the essay, giving suggestions for improvement, and proofreading the final product.

While having a great GPA is critical, applicants should focus on all of these areas described in this post.  An educational consultant such as Dr. Bishop can assist you in evaluating which area you should focus on and develop a plan for improving your overall likelihood of gaining acceptance into your top college choice.  To schedule an assessment please call Dr. Bishop directly at 813-454-1050.