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Articles / Applying to College / College Mistakenly Bumps Up GPA

Dec. 5, 2017

College Mistakenly Bumps Up GPA

Question: I was admitted to my first choice university less than a week after I applied, and I accepted their admission offer. However their honors program is a separate application, and as I was applying for honors, I noticed that they used my weighted GPA as my unweighted GPA. (Ex. [not my actual gpa] instead of 4.0/6.0, they put 4.0/4.0) This was an error on their part and not mine, but I don't know whether I should tell them or not. I'm afraid of having my admission rescinded due to a mistake on their end. What should I do? My GPA is lower than the minimum for their Honors program, but I will still attend the school if I don't get into Honors.

Congratulations on your acceptance and also on being honest enough to be worried about this apparent GPA snafu.  From the way you ask the question, it doesn't sound like you're worried about your acceptance to the university itself being rescinded, only your potential Honors acceptance (right)?


Although the mistake was on the part of the college and, because of it, you might be able to slide into the Honors program in spite of somewhat sub-par grades, you should alert the college to the discrepancy. You wouldn't want to be admitted to Honors and then have the rug pulled out from under you later on, if the error comes to light. Granted, if the mistake was made by the college and then you begin in September as an Honors student, it's unlikely that you'll be booted out of the program once it's under way. But, even so, I don't recommend starting your college career with this confusion hanging over your head.

Of course, it's also possible (albeit unlikely) that the "revised" GPA was NOT a mistake. Some admission offices have their own formulas for computing a student's GPA, and so it's conceivable that your unweighted GPA was reconfigured by the the admissions team. If your strongest grades were in core academic subjects and your weaker ones were in electives (music, art, health, etc.), then the university’s recalculation protocol may have left you with a higher GPA than the one you thought you earned. While I wouldn’ t bet my mortgage money on this theory, it’s still worth mentioning.

In any case, you should contact your admission representative (the staff member who oversees applicants from your high school) and tell him or her what you’ve told “The Dean.” If you do find that you aren’t admitted to the Honors program because of your (actual) GPA, you can probably reapply as a freshman. Most colleges allow strong students to enter Honors after proving themselves in their college classes, even if they weren’t accepted straight from high school. And also some students who were not admitted to Honors initially decide that it doesn’t really interest them after all, once they’re on campus and get a closer look.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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