How much GPA really matters

With every day more letters in response to seniors’ college applications arrive in Carrboro students’ mailboxes. With each one, some students will be able to rejoice and relax, while others will not. Some seniors will find out that they didn’t quite make the cut, and will head back to the drawing board to reconfigure their dream to fit their second, third or even fourth choice school. Maybe their dream school was looking for someone more well rounded, maybe their essay should have been edited one more time or maybe their GPA just wasn’t good enough.

The thought of someone’s future riding on a cumulative grade point average, accrued over the course of four of the most vulnerable and formative years of someone’s personal life, is inconceivable — yet some admission counselors consider it indicative of an applicant’s worth, and GPA is used to argue for or against thousands of students’ acceptance every day.

GPA is only one component of the application process; however, it is often used by a student as the metric to decide if you could realistically get into a given school. For example, someone with a 2.1 GPA would most likely not apply to Harvard, where an admitted students average unweighted GPA is 3.95. (Unweighted GPA is calculated on a 4.0 scale.)

This conditioned way of assessing the likelihood of being accepted into a school can build a defeatist mentality in students, often causing them to avoid applying to schools that seem like too much of a reach. The definition of a “reach” school varies from person to person; to one person it may be a school with a marginal acceptance rate, and to yet another it could be a school with an average GPA one point higher than theirs.

Although GPA is beginning to carry less weight on an application, this three digit number can sometimes be the difference of getting in versus not getting into the school of one’s dreams.

Due to the GPA’s trivial importance, schools are beginning to institute what they call “holistic reviews,” meaning they will look at an applicant’s qualifications collectively, and make a decision based on all parts in conjunction with each other. These holistic reviews are being created to ensure no single metric serves a large role in deciding a student’s admission or denial. This millennial way of assessment has given students some leeway in certain areas of their applications — such as GPA — where there was none before.

While GPA is becoming less signifi- cant to applications on the whole, things like a student’s ACT score, how many extracurriculars a student partakes in or how many service-learning hours a student has accrued are becoming increasingly more important.

As you apply to college, take a deep breath and consider your chances from multiple angles – not just on whether or not your GPA is “good” enough.