# When K-12 math courses teach about averages...

… do they use calculating GPA as an example?

The reason is that there are so many posts where high school students give only a weighted GPA (“my high school does not give unweighted”) and seem to have no idea how to calculate an unweighted GPA, nor understand that no one outside of their high school will know what their high school’s weighted GPA means.

@ucbalumnus , it may be my inner cynical mind speaking, but I always read most statements of that sort to mean, “I’d rather use my WGPA because it’s higher than my UWGPA, and if I say my school does not provide UWGPA maybe I can pull a fast one on the AOs.”

I say this because often that statement comes from posters who have very good stats. That is not to say I dispute your theory that some students may not know how to calculate averages. However IIRC, I’ve seen students with high test scores and 4+ WGPA claim they don’t know their UWGPA.

I can’t imagine any student that has taken Calculus or even Algebra cannot figure out an UWGPA. Any student that cannot calculate their UWGPA has no business applying to T70 universities.

This started my day with a chuckle! I have a hard time understanding how a student can have high grades, be in AP Calc BC and not understand how to do simple addition and division. I think like EconPop said, they just don’t want to.

I must admit, we had to do a bit of research about how to convert my D’s grades to a 4.0 scale. Some places use A/90-100 = 4.0 but others seem to use A-/90-93 = 3.7 then above that is a 4.0. Once we realized every school has their own calculation we didn’t spend more time worrying which conversion to use. But it can get confusing when you start this process and are overwhelmed about all that you just don’t know!

Sorry! Slightly off topic from your point of simply understanding basic math principles, I know.

Re: #1 and #2

Yes, but then they could be deceiving themselves in terms of thinking that they are more competitive for admission than they actually are, particularly if their high school has very heavy or exaggerated weighting. For example, a student may think that their 4.2 weighted GPA makes a college listing a 3.8 average GPA a “safety”, not realizing that their 4.2 weighted GPA came from a 3.4 unweighted GPA that makes that college a reach.

Unfortunately, it also seems that the deception often “works” on posters responding to threads in the “college search & selection” and “what are my chances?” sections, since most of those replying take weighted GPA at face value without any information on how it was weighted.

Re: #3

Conversion of 100 point transcript grades to 4 point grades is a whole other topic where there seems to be no universal standard.

I think this is the case fairly often. There seems to be a disconnect between wants and reality. DD’s GC used to call it managing expectations. It’s almost like they want to justify why they belong somewhere and use any evidence in their reasoning, no matter how flawed. It’s no wonder why these posts lead to the “I didn’t get in where I want to go” posts of the spring.

Re: #5 and counselors managing expectations

If the high schools only give weighted GPA (particularly with heavy weighting), they do bear some responsibility for encouraging overreaching. The counselors should not have to fight against what the schools’ GPA reporting policy encourages.

^ So true. It seems it would be so simple to provide both unweighted and weighted (with an explanation of the weighting used) in addition to clearly explaining which to use in the college search process (when researching schools and comparing to the CDS vs completing the applications). My D’s school provides unweighted grades for each class but only the weighted GPA for each year. Yes, it was simple enough for D to drop in Excel and calculate the unweighted GPA on a 100 point scale (then do it again for the 4.0 scale), but I’m sure we were not the only ones asking the GC which to use for which purpose and wondering why we had to calculate it ourselves.

We never knew my DD’s HS GPA on a 4.0 scale.
My daughter moved schools after her sophomore year. The first high school was the US News #1 STEM public magnet school with a 0-100 grading system. We moved internationally for work, so the second was a German International School with an IB program that has a 1-7 grading system. We never knew what her 4.0 scale GPA was. Colleges admitted her anyway and gave her merit scholarships. The only glitch we had was our State Public U that had an automated system for scholarships based on self-reported data. An email to admissions cleared that up and she was also awarded merit.

There have been many “I don’t know” answers to asking unweighted. And not from students on a 100 or 7 point scale. They typically don’t even know how their weighted was calculated.

While I suspect Algebra classes don’t use GPA calculation as an example (as it’s typically elementary or junior high school) for calculating averages, I also suspect most of the students posting here would understand how to extrapolate what they learn to how to calculate it.

The part that is of concern is it doesn’t occur to them that they can do it and the culture of “just ask somebody”.

Similarly, or more, concerning are the “what schools should I apply to” psts. There really are some things you can and should do yourself.

Perhaps it may be also that some students learned how to solve the problem in the book or on the test, but not how to apply the concept to a different problem.

Or “what school should I apply ED to?” questions, despite the question implying that the one asking does not have a clear top choice that is what ED is supposed to be used for.