Monday, November 21, 2011
Grades vs. GPA
While writing this post, I have selected three files from the EA applicant pool that all have the same UGA GPA of a 3.32. Why did I select this GPA? Because it was the first random GPA to pop into my head. I then reviewed the transcript for each file and looked at the GPA listed on the top of each transcript. The first applicant has a GPA listed on their transcript as a 3.44 transcript GPA, the second has a 4.01 transcript GPA, while last one has a 4.45 transcript GPA. As you can see, what a high school has as a GPA may vary greatly from what UGA has calculated (that last one has a difference of 1.13!). Why is this, you may ask (yes, I know you are asking it right now). As I have said several times before, UGA is looking at your actual posted grades in your academic classes, whether it is semester or block or trimester, and then calculates an admissions GPA based upon these course grades.
In other words, UGA Admissions does not look at the GPA listed on your high school transcript! You can take a Sharpie pen and mark through it for all that I care, because we do not use it! And the reason why? Because most school districts in the country determine their own method of calculating a GPA, adding weight here or there, using X classes or Y classes, etc. I have even seen an Honors PE course before where the weighted grade was added into the transcript GPA. I am fine with that, as every school district has the right to calculate a GPA however they want, but please do not confuse what we list as a GPA for our purposes as what you would see on your transcript.
In the UGA Admissions Office, we try to look at all the grades in an equal method, whether you apply from Arizona or Athens, GA. We look at your academic core grades to understand how many A's, B's, C's, etc. you have earned, and then go about determining a GPA (for more details on how we calculate an admissions GPA, see an earlier post I wrote about calculating GPA's at UGA. We give out our mid-range GPA so that people will have a general baseline for where applicants fall within a certain understood range, but the reality is that you need to have a common method of calculating GPA's (as UGA does) in order to get a true understanding of the situation.
So when you submit a comment like "I have a 3.32 GPA, ...", I have no real understanding what that GPA is. My suggestion? Start looking at your grades within the A/B/C/D/F categories, and try and understand if you are a mostly A/a few B student, a mostly B with a few C's student, and so on. Go ahead and figure out what your UGA GPA would approximately be. Because the next time I hear someone say "My son is a 4.0+ student", and when I reply stating that they must have all A's, I hope that I do not see a look of confusion. Remember, it is grades that we look at on a transcript, not a GPA posted on the top corner!