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09/04/2019

What’s a good gpa?

QUESTION
What’s a good gpa?
I am a sophmore in high school with a 3.8 gpa. I’m in all average classes and will be taking an honors course next year. My family says that I’ll have no problem getting a scholarship, but compared to a lot of other people I know, my gpa doesn’t look that great. With a 3.8 would I be able to get into good schools like NYU or even Columbia?

ANSWER
That’s a pretty solid GPA, assuming you’re on a 4.0 scale. It shows that you’ve worked pretty hard to score mostly As, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it looking bad.

However, if you’re looking at a scholarship to Columbia or NYU, that might be a good deal harder. I doubt they’ll deny you financial aid, especially as private universities, but a scholarship would probably be difficult unless you have an outstanding application. They’re big-name schools, so you’d probably need to have strong participation in extracurriculars, probably some awards, possibly lots of community service, etc. for a scholarship. But it IS possible to be admitted.

A couple things could help. I know Columbia has a high school summer program where you can take classes for a month-ish on campus; I did it between my junior and senior years of high school. Because it’s run by Columbia themselves, they’ll take the written evaluation that you get very seriously. I wouldn’t be surprised if NYU had a similar program. Also, getting to community service/National Honor Society is beneficial. High SAT/ACT scores will help as well.

I guess one question I have is this: Why NYU or Columbia? It’s possible I’m somewhat delusioned from having attended a well-known school for four years, but do you think those schools are a good fit for who you are? My dad, as a professor, is big on suggesting that students attend smaller schools that offer excellent educations, even if they aren’t as famous. For example, Harvey Mudd College in California is supposed to be excellent for sciences, but relatively few people know about it.

I really enjoyed being at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for my undergraduate years and I’m pretty sure I’ll miss it after I graduate at the end of the month. I found a department that I enjoy (linguistics) and the sheer diversity of classes available. But I also found a community of people that accepted me for who I was, so I was able to be transparent socially. I think those factors are worth considering as you look at schools. Besides, graduate admissions officers don’t look at the name as much as they do your coursework, grades, recommendations, and essays.