The whole weighted/unweighted thing . . .

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: The whole weighted/unweighted thing . . .
By Kiddielit (Kiddielit) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 09:45 am: Edit

Please forgive me if this has already been answered for the umpteenth time, but I need someone to explain -- not the difference between weighted and unweighted, I get that -- but the ramifications of the difference. That is, do high schools that weigh report both W/UW to colleges? Do colleges convert these scores somehow? My daughter's high school actually operates on a 5.0 scale with weighting for honors and AP which would give honors students 5+ GPAs. I know there has been controversy in the past at this school over rankings, because students who play it safe with study hall rank higher than students who pursue interests in unweighted electives. So how does this play out when it's time for applications?

By Hoosfun (Hoosfun) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 09:50 am: Edit

The colleges will not punish you for taking electives; they'll be looking at the overall strength of the academic program and the students success in such a program. It may, however, cause some problems if the secondary school designates class rank and honors by weighted GPA.

Usually both GPAs are reported, but as far as I know most colleges are only interested in the unweighted GPA.b

By Massdad (Massdad) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 10:01 am: Edit

You CANNOT generalize here. Each HS will do things differently. Each college will handle the data differently:

Some HS report both weighted and unweighted, some do not; some report two ranks, some report one. Some don't weight. Some don't rank. Some only count academic courses in GPA. Some do a lousy job explaining exactly what they actually do.

Colleges: Some prefer weighted; some prefer unweighted; some take whatever they are given; some recompute a gpa based on their own standards.

Bottom line: You can't do anything about this, other than make sure the school profile adequately explains what is done. Hint: ask for the profile. If it makes no sense to you, a parent, it will make no sense to an adcom member. Whether you can get your HS to change is another issue.

So chill out - you have even bigger things to be concerned about!

By Drusba (Drusba) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 10:06 am: Edit

High schools typically report on the transcript all your per semester grades, courses taken, whether they were honors or AP and an overall GPA -- sometimes just weighted, sometimes both weighted and unweighted. They also usually provide how they weight classes -- and college usually knows that anyway based on prior application history.

Colleges actually vary significantly on how they deal with grades. Some simply take what is provided as weighted GPA (and go on knowledge of the school to account for differences between schools). Others rely mainly on class rank. Many determine your unweighted GPA (on a 4 scale) for core college prep courses only (math, English, social studies, language, and lab science) and then add points under their own weighting system.

The issue of the student who plays safe just to get a high GPA is greatly overblown. First, most of your highly ranked students are going to be those who took a lot of honors/AP and got the extra points. Second, highly selective colleges, in evaluating a student, generally look at not just grades but courses taken to see if the student took a light or strong course load.

By Kiddielit (Kiddielit) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:07 pm: Edit

Thanks, all, for the replies. Massdad, I'm a little concerned. I didn't think I had any big worries at this point. Do you know something I don't know, or are you referring to things to come with teenage daughters (LOL)? Asking for the profile is a good idea. And btw, when does your daughter leave for Chicago?
Drusba, I forget -- where did your daughter decide to go?

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:40 pm: Edit

1. Should the reporting of grades by your high school concern you? Absolutely.

2. Should you worry about the profile? See above.

3. Should you be worried about other things involving your high school -like evaluations and rec letters? Most definitely.

If, at the end of the process, your high school did not botch at least one of the items listed, you ought to consider yourself VERY lucky.

If I had to do it again, I would double check EVERYTHING. I would not trust anyone from the GC office or teachers to send the forms out by the deadline. I reported earlier how my school used my prepaid envelopes to send OTHER students documents. I found out when the envelope was returned to our home for insufficient postage. The only solution: ask the school to give you back every piece of information and mail it yourself.

If feasible, insist to read EVERYTHING the school sends out, starting with the school profile. If you know any of the parents of the last year's senior class, ask them if everything went smoothly. Trust what THEY say, not the school nor the parents with children in the school. You will be amazed how the opinion of "old" parents might be different.

Lastly, while it is true that a hard schedule will be viewed favorably by adcoms, I do not believe that this favorable view could erase a lower GPA, and especially not a lower ranking. For the vast majority of schools, I really believe that the ranking reported by the high school is the most important item on your transcript. It is also virtually impossible for colleges to "rerank" the students. Maximizing the GPA and earn the highest ranking pays huge dividends!

By Massdad (Massdad) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:41 pm: Edit


Yes, there are so many complicated decisions facing you and family: finishing applications online or not, essays, retaking tests, overnight or not etc. Add to this boyfriends/girlfriends, financing the education, senioritis, graduation...

You have many things to decide that you can control to a degree. Why fret about what you can't control or influence?

Yes, D starts frosh orientation September 18. We'll leave the 11th to see some relatives en route and then leave early the 19th to drive back home for a class dear spouse teaches morning of the 21st. As our only child, life is about to change...

By Drusba (Drusba) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 01:04 pm: Edit

And in answer to your question, my daughter is leaving tomorrow for UIUC, college of engineering.

By Kiddielit (Kiddielit) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 01:15 pm: Edit

Happy belated birthday, Xig. Go get 'em at CMC.

By Digmedia (Digmedia) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 01:52 pm: Edit

We had one problem with weighted vs. unweighted with one of our state universities. On a form for "Presidential Scholar" at the school, the question asked for GPA on a 4.0 scale. Since my son's school does not weight grades, he put his unweighted average: 3.9.

We got a letter back later which said basically that his grades were too low for the Scholar distinction, and that the cutoff was 4.1.

Obviously, that is weighted and not "on a 4.0 scale." Oh well, he had no intention of attending there anyway.

Don't always assume that you're dealing with smart people.


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