Chance Me: WPI

I am considering applying Early Action II for WPI and was wondering if I could get any input on whether or not I have a shot at getting in. I am a prospective biochemistry major and currently go to a public high school in New Hampshire.

Here are my stats…
-GPA (my school only does weighted): 4.11
-Class Rank: 28 out of 241
-SAT: 1380
-ACT (not planning on submitting): 30
-SAT Subject Molecular Bio: 710
-I have taken majority honors classes in the past four years and have taken 5 AP Classes in total (Comp Sci, Bio, Environmental, Chem, and Physics)

And here are some of my extracurriculars…

  • Part-time job: Worked at a grocery store my sophomore and junior year and as a restaurant hostess senior year
  • School Newspaper (10,11)
  • Marine Science Team (Team Captain position held Junior & Senior yr) (10,11,12)
    -Science Olympiad (11,12)
    -Yearbook Club (10,11,12)
    -Senior year internship in an AP Biology class (similar to a TA position) (12)
    -Model United Nations (11,12)
    -Volunteer at local library with technology help (10)
    -Science National Honors Society (11,12)

I have stayed on the high honor roll for all four years of high school and have three recommendation letters (one is from my guidance counselor and I have two strong letters from teachers I have recently had).

Thanks for the help!

Weighted rankings are difficult to compared as secondary schools use many different systems. WPI’s unweighted GPA average is 3.89 on a four point scale. Weighted averages are somewhere over 4.

Historically, it appears admissions rates are stronger for early action students than the regular decision candidates. It is also true that students not accepted on early action are usually not deferred to the the RA group.

EA appears to be a good choice with the above historical background.

Do a lot of research on the project based program so you can write your best application. Let them know about you beyond a list of courses and test scores. See “10 Things to Know About the WPI Plan” at for an outline of the process. Put that Biochem brain to work!

What other majors and programs are you looking into?

@retiredfarmer I’ve seen that 3.89 average GPA for WPI, but I haven’t found a source indicating that’s an unweighted average. I know it says on a 4.0 scale, but that’s the scale used for weighted GPAs as well. Because you can’t get 5 points for an ‘A’ in a regular class. So all classes use a 4.0 scale, but AP/Honors get that extra point.

As a point of comparison, Rose-Hulman lists an average GPA of 3.98 on a 4.0 scale. Yet 20% of enrolled students had a GPA below 3.75. Even if the distribution was binary (80% had exactly a 4.0, 20% had exactly a 3.74), the avg GPA would be 3.94. Note that 6.4% of their enrollees had a GPA below 3.50.

Which is why I don’t know that WPI’s 3.89 is an unweighted average.

@sfSTEM - in other threads, you said you are a senior. Are you still contemplating a college decision at this date? Or have you made a decision? If you are still making a decision, and need input, please reach out to my biology/biotech daughter who just wrapped up her freshman year - wpigirl23


By a scale of 4, we usually mean that the scale STOPS at 4. When courses are “weighted,” selected individual courses of an honors or advanced nature are given a higher number than the regular, “unweighted” courses. This means that an “A” in selected advanced courses are assigned a higher number than the one that shows on a transcript. An “A” in a weighted course is not added as a “4.0,” but “weighted” to a number larger than a 4 whereas a true “4.0” scale stops at 4.0.

Here is the admissions problem:
The weighting systems used from one secondary school to the another are not always uniform. This makes comparison difficult when thousands of secondary school applicants are being compared. As a rule, admissions offices do not try to compare GPA’s of students who are rated on different scales.

Like most professions, admissions are not as easy as it first appears. An element of subjectivity always steps in. Familiarity with a given secondary school can be helpful. Recommendations from teachers in key subject areas, character observations of teachers are helpful. Standardized test score do not really fill the gap, but demonstrated project work can really help at WPI. How about that essay? The “average” test score of entering WPI students is somewhere above a 4, but not really relevant.

Point of interest:
A few Universities will boast of an average entering GPA which is higher than 4.0. Now you know what the means. Do not use that score as a basis for comparing universities.

@ChillDad Thanks! However, I’m actually a parent of a current 10th grader/rising 11th grader. He’s not on College Confidential, but I participate here to learn more about college stuff. He’s not focused on colleges yet, but my wife and I see WPI as a great place for him. We love the 3 classes per term, and the hands-on nature of the project approach.

His interests are in computer science, robotics, computer engineering. We live in San Francisco.

@retiredfarmer Thank you. I initially saw the phrase “using 4.0 scale” on the common data set as indicating unweighted GPA as well. Like you, I though 4.0 would be the highest score. But when I came across that Rose-Hulman average GPA, I realized that it was weighted. At least, it was there.

In addition, I know schools will calculate their own weighted GPAs. Maybe a high school gives an extra point for an honors class, but the college only will do that for AP courses.

Having a consistent approach on GPA calculation across colleges would be very helpful for families. In this case, I’m still unsure what approach WPI is using. But we’ll press on regardless.

@sfSTEM - Sorry, I mistook you for the OP. If you have questions moving forward, again don’t hesitate to reach out to me or my daughter, whose roommate is a CS/Data Science major. Also, if your son is interested in getting a “virtual taste” of WPI, you might look at its summer Frontiers program for rising juniors/seniors. My daughter’s participation in a comparable program at WPI is what sold her on the school. They have an info. session scheduled for next week - Wed. 5/27 at 12 (EST)


Call the WPI admissions office and ask. I did a few years ago and was assured they did not incorrectly post their average GPA on their report. Most universities do not, but if it is higher than 4.0, weighted scores were clearly included. I am an alumnus and used to work there.


Just reading the Rose Hulman website and I came across a familiar name: Charles O Thompson. It turns out he was the first President of Worcester Free Institute of Technology (today WPI) in 1868. Evidently the “free” part of WPI was a problem so he resigned from WPI in 1882 citing financial reasons and became became the first president of Rose Hulman. WPI still has a student award in Pres. Thompson’s name. Thompson was a Dartmouth graduate as was his replacement at WPI.

As I grow older, history, particularly of science and education, grow more interesting.