USAToday: Most colleges don't care about GPAs

<p>USAToday's Mary Beth Marklein wrote an article that is sure to spark some controversy:</p>

<p>Grades</a> pointless? Some colleges don't care about GPAs</p>

<p>The subhead for the story is, "Admissions officers at the nation's top schools say they barely look at an applicant's GPA," which has a different spin than the headline. The most elite schools are indeed less formula-based than other schools and try to take into account accomplishments outside the classroom.</p>

<p>Even at the Ivies, though, the Academic Index takes class rank into account, which in turn is determined by GPA.</p>

<p>If you look at admission scattergrams that plot GPA and SAT/ACT scores with admission results (such as those produced by Naviance), there's certainly a correlation between GPA and acceptance at just about every college and university. Correlation doesn't imply causation, of course - it could be the colleges have other ways of admitting smart applicants, and those applicants just have high GPAs too. </p>

<p>What do you think? Words of wisdom or dangerous advice?</p>

<p>Or, overly exuberant headline writing by someone other than Marklein? :)</p>

<p>Wow. An article that says next to nothing, and a headline that says something startling that isn't quite supported by the few facts in the article. What a disastrous combination!</p>

<p>If you read between the lines, I think you find it implied that the admissions committees at selective colleges and universities are doing what deans have been saying they do: they are reading applicants' transcripts rather than getting hung up on applicants' GPAs.</p>

<p>I certainly get the feeling that these deans had more to say than what has been quoted. Specifically, I think they probably said they pay little attention to GPA because it is easily manipulated, but they still pay close attention to an applicant's course of study and to the grades he or she earned.</p>

<p>My son has been accepted to every school he has applied to so far (10 of them) most likely because of his SAT and ACT scores (2000 and 28) and also extra curricular activities. His GPA (3.2) has kept him from getting much for merit scholarships. So I do agree that the schools may look more at the test scores than the GPA but I believe you need the whole package for the scholarships.</p>

<p>The headline of the thread is also incongruous with the OP's content.</p>

<p>In general, I don't pay much attention to USA Today articles. Most articles seem to skim the surface of the subject without delving into the subject matter.</p>

<p>@Sikorsky: True. It's been established repeatedly that it isn't possible to compare GPAs with more than fragments of objectivity. Grading policies and rigor of classes with given titles are, well, also not seamless, but at least they tend to be fairly standardized.</p>

<p>In the "High School Life" section there is a thread called "How does your school add weight for Honors/AP classes" or something like that. The methods of calculating are all over the map. I can see where colleges would just look at the transcript to see what classes were taken and what grades were earned in the class to determine the readiness for college work. It would be quicker than recalculating all the GPAs to some single standard. If you have a 4.0 student in a system where the top students might have GPAs in the 5s then the GPA is only important in that system. I would think that grades and rigor of curriculum is very important to colleges. GPA being a less standardized and therefore reliable indicator not as much.</p>

<p>The headline may be technically true, but misleading. They may not care about the GPA printed on the transcript, but that is different from not caring about courses and grades.</p>

<ul>
<li>Some schools recalculate GPA their own way.</li>
<li>Some schools look over the actual courses and grades on the transcript.</li>
<li>Some schools use class rank instead of grades or GPA.</li>
<li>Some schools are open admission and really do not care about previous grades.</li>
</ul>

<p>The funny part is that the article references that grades may not be that important for some schools, which morphs into the headline that says "some colleges don't care about GPAs", which morphs into the title of this thread "Most colleges don't care about GPAs".</p>

<p>This thread is a good example of headline inflation.</p>

<p>'Headline inflation' - great term!</p>

<p>Definitely headline inflation! Interestingly, another parent (who hasn't gone through the college admissions process yet) cited this article, and was excitingly telling everyone that GPAs don't matter anymore. I hadn't seen this article yet, but told her that she was misinformed and the article wasn't accurate. Based on our experience last year, and son applied to 16 colleges, most of which are highly selective, the main two things that matter are the numbers - GPA and test scores. If you make that cut, then the rest (essays, ECs, awards, etc), come into consideration.</p>

<p>This is incredibly timely discussion for me. I have a designed a college comparison spreadsheet for kids I help. I left off GPA b/c it simply too subjective. Kids will include their electives to inflate GPa, some schools do not weight, and in the end the colleges are using their own calculations while looking at the high school profile. </p>

<p>Indeed the GPA is important it's just not a simple answer.</p>

<p>Hi Sportsmom42-
interesting you say it is all about the numbers. My Senior daughter has experience it to, but the question at what is good enough??? She had one stat not quite as strong as he others and it has haunted her. The following is not meant to brag but to make point and ask question...</p>

<p>Stats-
Top 50 USNWR High School
Top 5 percent (most granular percentile reporting) about 1050 students in class.
Will finish with 11 AP classes (all 3 or better)
3.96 UW and 4.55 W GPA</p>

<br>


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<p>Obviously her Standardized test scores are her chink in her app, if you call them a chink.</p>

<p>We hoped that the holistic application would outweigh the standard test scores. However all the standardized scores are pretty much 25th Percentile for all the top 20 schools. (Meaning that they are not 5th percentile)</p>

<p>She applied Early Decision to Northwestern and we were floored that she was Rejected, not even deferred. SO, I ask, how can 25th percentile score have kept her out?? We had hoped that although not in the upper end, that they would have been enough to get her other characteristics to shine and come out on top! So now she is gathering other acceptances and scholarship and will need to weigh everything out in April. </p>

<p>Best of luck to everyone.
Gschlact</p>

<p>GPAs don't matter.</p>

<p>Man bites dog.</p>

<p>Essays must not have been that excellent. :/</p>

<p>Just my opinion- The average GPA is around 4.0 for the admit class of the elite universities. Assuming 40,000 apps (which is a large statistical population) it just seems to me that if GPA wasn't a consideration then there would be wider dispersion from the near perfection GPA. (mean)?</p>

<p>This article is poorly written in my opinion. The intent to confuse is also apparent. GPA "might" not matter, but grades still do.</p>

<p>What is with these sensational headlines or thread titles recently (this and the "no MCAT" threaD)</p>

<p>For me it's a relief to hear GPA isn't as heavily weighted as I presumed..</p>