GPA Applying to College

I’ve tried to research this but I’m still a little confused. Is my end of junior year GPA what I will be submitting to colleges? I’m planning to apply early decision, but if I applied regular decision, would it be my end of first semester senior year GPA?
If that’s true, my end of junior GPA is about 4.3. Is that too low for schools like Yale, or does GPA not even factor in that much? I know schools recalculate GPA.


It’s your most recent cumulative gpa, which is generally end of junior year. For RD schools, you will need to have your first semester grades sent, when available.

That means nothing without context. Colleges view your schools grading system and where this gpa ranks within your class


4.3 out of what?

Is this your weighted or unweighted GPA.

Yale doesn’t just look at GPA. They look at your whole application.

Yale doesn’t have early decision. They have SCEA…so you can’t apply ED to Yale.

Single-Choice Early Action is non-binding, meaning that you do not have to go to Yale if you are accepted. If you apply Single-Choice Early Action to Yale, however, you are not allowed to submit Early Decision applications to any school or to apply Early Action to any other private institutions.

If you apply EA or ED, your end of junior year grades will be what is sent with your application.

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Sorry, I did mean early action. 4.3 is my weighted GPA (5 APs). My school is public but very competitive. We have several Ivy League commits a year.

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How do you compare with those Ivy admits? Are you one of the top students at your school?

GPA is calculated very differently in different high schools in the US. As such it is very hard to know what a GPA of 4.3 means at your high school.

If you are at a very competitive high school, and if you are one of the top 2 or 3 students in the high school, then this would be information that we can understand. If you were perhaps top 5% overall, and top 1 or 2 in math, again this would be information that we could understand.

Yale will look at your grades. They will also look at what courses you have taken. They will also look at references, ECs, your essays, and many other things.

Yale is a reach for nearly any strong student. If you feel that it is a good fit for you, then apply.

However, make sure that you also apply to at least two safeties. A safety means that you know you will be accepted, you know that you can afford to attend, the school has a good program in your intended major, and you would be comfortable attending the school.

What is the weighting system used?

Also, would your course selection be considered among the most demanding by your counselor, and would your counselor indicate that you are one of the top few students encountered? These are check boxes on the counselor form that is used by many of the most selective colleges.

Basically, is that GPA top 10% for your competitive school?
Ae you considered outstanding academically AND in one other area?

I definitely am near the top. I make excellent grades in the classes I take. However, I’m realizing (I moved here about a year ago) that some of those in the top have taken more APs in their first two years of high school. Not super serious ones, but ones like AP art history and environmental science. So I’ve still pushed myself in core subjects and taken extracurriculars related to my intended major, but their APs are APs nonetheless.

I’m honestly not sure. i have tried to push myself to the best of my ability at every high school I’ve attended (I’ve moved throughout these past three years), but it’s hard to get a feel of what everyone is doing. is there a way to ask my counselor that question in a meeting I have scheduled for signing up for senior year classes? Or would it not be wise to ask her that outright?

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I would say that I am in the top 10% from my estimation. My school has several valedictorians (also dependent on ACT scores and volunteering hours), but I’m in the running for that, so I’m assuming I’m at least near the top.
As for the one other area, I’m very interested in creative writing. I’m editor-in-chief of my school newspaper, run a successful blog, and write for my school’s literary magazine (and am currently working to set up an elementary school creative writing camp through that lit mag). I’ve applied for newspaper internships and college English research this summer. Would that qualify as a strong area, or just something a lot of other students are doing?

By all means apply to Yale and any other schools you want and give it your all. Just keep in mind that a college like Yale is hyper-competitive with an acceptance rate around 5%. And since there will be many more worthy applicants than there are spots available Yale (and other top tier colleges) it must be considered a reach for any unhooked applicant.

Like every other student you will need to create a well balanced application list that has reach (like Yale and other top tier colleges) as well as match and safety schools that appear affordable AND that you would be excited to attend. It is easy to come up with the “big name” colleges but it will take more time and effort to find those match and safety schools you love. The good news is that there are tons of amazing colleges and universities out there.

Since you are at a competitive HS which sends students to top tier universities I would suggest that your guidance counselor would be the best judge of if you would be a competitive candidate for top tier colleges. You can work with your guidance counselor to create a well-balanced application list.

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1 or 2 Ap’s taken freshman year or your exact rank won’t really matter to adcoms.
What are you thinking of taking next year?
You could ask “How am I doing in terms of rank decile? WOuld you consider my schedule is “most rigorous”?” (Counselors generally check very rigorous or most rigorous and the most elit colleges want to see “most rigorous”; very few competitive schools rank nowadays but those who do may indicate decile.)
The writing angle is very good, especially if you plan to apply for English, media, or writing (look at all your colleges’ majors and choose what matches “writing” the best.)
I suppose Kenyon is on your list, as is Denison? Both would be low reaches due to selectivity (any college with a sub-20% acceptance rate is a reach even if you match their profile).

It’s great that you’ve been pushing yourself academically. As your school does have experience sending students to highly rejective colleges, I agree with @happy1 that you should get advice from them on strategies for your application.

If you need additional recommendations to help form a balanced list, let us know your budget and what your interests are for your college experience (fields, importance of Greek life of intercollegiate athletics, areas of the country, size of the institution, particular interests you want to pursue, etc.).

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My schedule for senior year is pretty rigorous (although very interesting classes, so I’m not dreading it): 1 honors class, 5 APs, and office working for my journalism teacher (so that I can continue to work on the newspaper past my school’s designated two years).
I am applying for a creative writing major / minor / concentration. I am looking at Kenyon, although I hadn’t heard of Denison before. I’m looking at quite a few other schools ranked for creative writing, but it’s difficult as many of them are very selective.

I’m not very picky whatsoever about the college experience…really my greatest concern right now is finding safeties / targets that aren’t highly selective but have great creative writing programs. (Religious or not religious is fine.) Schools I’m looking at are Emerson, Emory, Mizzou, Columbia, Brown, University of Washington.

What’s the budget? Has your family run any Net Price Calculators (NPCs)? If not, have your family run the NPC at Yale. It will then provide its Expected Family Contribution (EFC). If that EFC is affordable for your family, then great! If not (and for many families, it’s not), then you will have to focus on schools that offer merit aid and not just need-based aid. (Yale tends to be VERY generous in defining a family’s need, far more so than 99% of colleges. If they don’t think you have need, it’s extremely unlikely anyone else will either.)

U. of the South is a small school you might want to consider, while U. of Iowa and U. of Mississippi are two larger school that you might want to investigate. All of those offer merit aid.


Denison is easier to get into than Kenyon (though sub 20% acceptance rate).
There’s also Iowa Honors (not a great honors program but still interesting and access to Iowa’s creative writing faculty)