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Articles / Applying to College / Why So Many 4.0 GPA's on SuperMatch?

May 30, 2012

Why So Many 4.0 GPA's on SuperMatch?

Question: How are average GPAs computed for purposes of College Confidential's Supermatch College Search?

The College Search lists at least 31 colleges with Average GPAs of 4, the highest unweighted GPA possible. If they have average GPAs of 4.0, more than half of their incoming freshmen must have high school unweighted GPAs of 4.0 and GPAs must be rounded up, as it would be mathematically impossible to have such an average otherwise.


Do Olin, WUSL, MIT, Pomona, Notre Dame, Rice, Northwestern, Duke, Chicago, Yale, Columbia, Amherst, Dartmouth, Harvard, Stanford, Williams, Claremont McKenna, Carleton, Tufts, Cornell, Vassar, Middlebury, Swarthmore, Wesleyan, Brown, Bowdoin, Haverford, Cooper Union, Washington and Lee, Wellesley, and Georgetown ALL have freshman classes containing a large majority of students with perfect high school GPAs as reported? This seems impossible to me. If they do not, why are they listed as having Average GPAs of 4?

I am particularly interested in the answer to this question because my son has an ACT of 35 but will have an unweighted 3.9 after his junior year due to several grades of B+ in AP classes.

You've raised a good question, which I relayed to the Hobsons honchos who created SuperMatch.

From that, I've learned that the "elite" colleges you've named do not provide an official average GPA to prospective students and their families. Thus, any time some critical piece of information is missing from a school profile (GPA, SAT's, ACT's), the SuperMatch team employs a formula that estimates the missing data based upon the available data.

But, as you've pointed out, when it comes to certain hyper-competitive colleges, this formula is slightly flawed. GPA's at Amherst, Swarthmore, MIT, et al are very high but they're not THAT high! And your son, with an unweighted 3.9, will certainly be in the running everywhere he applies.

So I've passed your query over to the Hobsons SuperMatch team and they are returning to the drawing board ... thanks to you.

If you keep an eye on SuperMatch you will see a change in the near future ... possibly an "est." next to the GPA (meaning "estimated").

I hope that helps and I also hope that SuperMatch was able to direct your son to colleges and universities that meet his other academic and preference selections, even if the GPA part was a tad confusing.

(posted 5/30/2012)

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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