right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Upcoming changes to the way we log in on College Confidential. Read more here.

Which is better? Most rigorous or higher GPA?

Jh123Jh123 1 replies1 threads New Member
If you are not aiming for top 20 schools (but more in the 30-100 range), is it better to take the most rigorous load or less rigorous load with higher GPA?
For example, unweighted GPA of 3.6-3.7 in the most rigorous course load or 3.9-4.0 unweighted in a less rigorous load (ie: 4-6 APs rather than 7-9 APs)
56 replies
· Reply · Share
«13

Replies to: Which is better? Most rigorous or higher GPA?

  • 4gsmom4gsmom 783 replies26 threads Member
    It's such a "chicken or the egg" issue. We had an admissions officer answer that with "high GPA in rigorous courses" when asked.
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34799 replies392 threads Senior Member
    If you're able to be realistic, aim for some balance. Rigor doesn't mean the easy APs, it means cores and what's related to your possible major. Fine to mix it up. Where you take something easier (or honors,) do aim for top grades.

    But don't miss what the right combo of ECs is, for you and your plans. Learn enough about your targets to understand what does matter in your record.
    · Reply · Share
  • skieuropeskieurope 39771 replies7241 threads Super Moderator
    edited November 21
    Which is better?
    Most rigorous with higher GPA
    ie: 4-6 APs rather than 7-9 APs
    It will all be viewed in context. 4-6 APs across all core subjects in courses like Calc AB, English Lit, USH, Physics will be viewed differently than 7-9 in lighter weight courses like Human Geography, Stats, Psych, ES.
    edited November 21
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34799 replies392 threads Senior Member
    But I do think the fact OP is aiming at a broader selection of colleges makes a difference.

    Though 30-50 can still have high expectations, there will be great colleges in the 30 (or so) to 100 range that want to see you stretch, can take on the higher challenges, are a thinker, etc. Not just the rat race of more AP and solid A grades.

    And a lot depends on what your major may be, how you use available opportunities around you.

    4-6 AP is fine. Slacking is a different extreme.
    · Reply · Share
  • PrdMomto1PrdMomto1 210 replies5 threads Junior Member
    I would aim for the most rigorous course load you can handle while still maintaining good grades.
    · Reply · Share
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 3104 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Merit aid seems reserved for those with the highest gpa, not necessarily tied to rigor, fwiw
    · Reply · Share
  • SJ2727SJ2727 1991 replies6 threads Senior Member
    This was a question we asked too. My daughter ended up with a lower GPA for taking more rigorous courses (she did 5 APs, with a sprinkling of Bs for classwork grades but mostly 5s in the actual exams, and took a number of honors courses). She got into her first choice college, at the lower end of the T30. To add the obvious though, these colleges do holistic reviews - a classmate of hers with better GPA and rigor (and tbh, we thought better ECs) was rejected. Based on her experience (only one kid of course), a 3.6-3.7 GPA in most rigorous, with a good rest of application, should be totally fine for the range of schools you're talking about. Subject to your standardized test scores, I'd expect you'd be a match for many of those.
    · Reply · Share
  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 1990 replies72 threads Senior Member
    Ideally, of course, you'd want the most rigorous courses and the highest GPA possible.

    But, if it has to be an either/or question, then rigor over easy GPA is the path you'd want to take. For one, taking rigorous courses will prepare you better for the college irregardless of where you'll end up at. College admission is one thing; surviving and graduating is another. Secondly, the college adcoms aren't going to just take a quick glance at your GPA; they'll thoroughly inspect and analyze the courses you took to determine your academic fitness level.
    · Reply · Share
  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1467 replies20 threads Senior Member
    I always find it funny that people assume that they would do better in a “less rigorous” class. A class like physics or economics can be easier for some using Calc vs algebra. What about history? Analyzing the impact of an event and be easier than remembering a bunch of dates/names/places.
    · Reply · Share
  • RichInPittRichInPitt 1259 replies17 threads Senior Member
    4gsmom wrote: »
    We had an admissions officer answer that with "high GPA in rigorous courses" when asked.

    Similar to the “is it better to have a A in an honors class or a B in an AP course”. The inevitable answer is “we prefer an A in the AP course” when this comes up at T30 info sessions.

    It’s a matter of increments and degrees. “Only” 6 AP course instead of 11 is very different than none instead of 5. A tenth of a point in GPA is different than three tenths.

    Both are important and I don’t think there will ever be a “right answer”.

    In your specific scenario, I think the 5 or 6 solid AP course while maintaining a 3.9+ would be best. Once you get over 5 or 6 the incremental value to rigor decreases, especially if it’s at the expense of grades.
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34799 replies392 threads Senior Member
    Lol, a core history AP isn't less rigorous.

    I think OP is asking a simple question, based on wondering if he CAN get an A in a rigorous class. I don't think it's a hypothetical question.
    · Reply · Share
  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1605 replies30 threads Senior Member
    I think the point is challenge/push yourself with the more rigorous courses and you might actually be up to the challenge (i.e. get out of your comfort zone).
    · Reply · Share
  • Tigerwife92Tigerwife92 44 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @Jh123 is the objective to get admitted or to get admitted with merit?
    · Reply · Share
  • Jh123Jh123 1 replies1 threads New Member
    @Jh123 is the objective to get admitted or to get admitted with merit?

    To get admitted (for the higher ranked schools) and for lower on the list (to be admitted AND get merit aid)

    For example, what would be better for a school like Ohio State or UC Irvine? Higher GPA and less AP courses OR lower GPA and 2-3 more AP courses. Would it matter if the major is STEM or history/philosophy?
    · Reply · Share
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5686 replies1 threads Senior Member
    I think that each student has to take whatever course load makes sense for them. Then find a school that fits what they have done.

    Some students can handle a long list of AP classes. Some will find this too stressful. Personally I was fine with any math or non-biology science class my school could throw at me, but I would have died in AP literature or AP Euro.

    Ohio State is a pretty big university. I have to think that they have room for any student who does does well and gets a lot of A's and not much else, regardless of whether they were getting A's in honors classes or B+'s in AP classes.
    · Reply · Share
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 3104 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Agreed. A large public school generally relies on GPA very heavily.
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79014 replies701 threads Senior Member
    Jh123 wrote: »
    For example, what would be better for a school like Ohio State or UC Irvine? Higher GPA and less AP courses OR lower GPA and 2-3 more AP courses. Would it matter if the major is STEM or history/philosophy?

    Higher GPA in harder courses is always the answer.

    Note that some choices of AP courses may not look better to an admissions reader. Skipping precalculus to take AP statistics, skipping physics to take AP environmental science, or skipping foreign language level 3 or 4 to take AP human geography would not necessarily look better.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity