Your GPA: Getting In for Geeks (Part 3)

Let's talk about your grades. Are grades important to you? They are to admissions officers. And no matter how fair or unfair they are, your grades communicate a strong message about how successful you might be in college.

So, right now, own your current GPA--whatever it is. What it reflects is the way you have performed in the classroom over the last few years. Most GPAs begin with first semester in ninth grade. Some schools weight grades--meaning you get extra points for classes that are considered tougher or honors classes; some schools consider all grades equally.

Whatever your scenario your school uses doesn't really matter as much as where you fall in the spectrum of GPAs at your same school. Also, you should probably count on the fact that many college admissions offices have practices that include refiguring your GPA, using their own system. For those that do, they sometimes take off the extra points (if you have a weighted system at your high school), and they usually don't figure in grades for religion courses or arts courses. But don't sweat any of that right now. What we need to figure out first is where you fall GPA-wise in the range of kids at your school. You can find the average student GPA for each particular school in the Admissions tab of the school's Noodle profile.

It is really helpful in guiding you to a place where you can understand what your statistical odds are to be admitted. Don't worry if your GPA is slightly lower, and don't be too confident if it's slightly higher than the average GPA of an admitted student from your school, but do use that info wisely in helping you choose where you'll apply

Your grades do not define you, nor do they define your potential at the undergraduate level, but college admissions officers do use them as one factor in trying to figure out if they should admit you. Obviously, the higher the better, but the number is only as important as the way you have risen to academic challenge all along.

And your grades also tell part of a story, but seldom the whole story. What do your grades tell about you? Do they explain some of your other commitments? Do they reflect your ability to pursue a topic in-depth? Do they show a progression from year to year?

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