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Articles / Applying to College / Admissions Dean: Many Colleges Recalculate GPAs

Admissions Dean: Many Colleges Recalculate GPAs

Elena Loveland
Written by Elena Loveland | Nov. 11, 2019
Admissions Dean: Many Colleges Recalculate GPAs


Everyone knows that your grade point average (GPA) is one of the strongest aspects of a college admission application. But questions remain about whether colleges review your weighted or unweighted GPA -- or if they create their own weighting system once they review your transcripts.

Unfortunately, there is no one answer to these questions because every higher education institution does things differently, but in many cases, colleges will employ their own weighting systems to your grades.

"Many colleges — including Lawrence University — recalculate GPAs as a way to compare students from different high schools, curricula, and grading scales from all over the country," explains Ken Anselment, dean of admission and vice president for enrollment and communication at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis.

"At Lawrence, for example, we create an unweighted academic GPA on a 4.0 scale that considers course performance in English/communication arts; mathematics; languages; natural sciences; history/social sciences," Anselment says. "We also note in our calculations how many of those academic courses are so-called rigorous courses (e.g., International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, honors, etc.)."

Similar methods are employed at other schools across the country, says Laurie Kopp Weingarten, co-founder and director of One-Stop College Counseling in Marlboro, N.J. "Part of what independent education consultants do is visit colleges and speak to admission officers about their processes. Based on all the conversations I've had with admission officers, there is no standard method standard way of analyzing GPAs," she notes. "Many colleges will recalculate the GPA to suit their needs (including or omitting non-core classes, weighing/unweighting the GPA so that there's one standardized approach for everyone) while others use the GPA right off of the transcript. Some want the weighted GPA; others will use an unweighted GPA but separately assess the rigor of the classes."

Because there is no standard way for colleges to assess GPAs, the best thing to do is just aim to achieve the best grades you can so you have the highest GPA possible.

"What I tell my students is, "Focus on the core classes (English, Science, Math, History, Foreign Language and Religion if it's a religious high school) and try to get the highest grades you can," says Weingarten.

Written by

Elena Loveland

Elena Loveland

Elena Loveland has been a writer and editor covering higher education and college admissions for 18 years and is the author of Creative Colleges: Finding the Best Programs for Aspiring Artists, Designers, Dancers, Musicians, Writers, and More. Creative Colleges has earned recognition in the College Bound Teen, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Gate and U.S. News and World Report's Annual College Guide. Loveland has spoken at the Independent Educational Consultants Association and the University of the Arts, as well as several high schools about college admission for creative students. She has worked for the National Association for College Admission Counseling as editor of the Journal of College Admission and for NAFSA: Association of International Educators as editor-in-chief of International Educator magazine. As an independent journalist, Loveland.s work has appeared in numerous publications such as American Careers, Dance Teacher, Hispanic Outlook on Higher Education, International Educator, Pointe, Teen Vogue, University Business and the U.S. News & World Report's Annual College Guide, among several others. She has a master's degree in English and has been an adjunct instructor at three higher education institutions. Loveland provides private college admissions consulting to families upon request. She lives in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

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