GPA in College Admissions

Grade Point Average (GPA) has been the most important factor in college admissions.  It reflects a student’s capabilities, which are essential for success at university. It is intended to distinguish students.

However, grade inflation has complicated reliance on GPA. In 1966, 20.8% of high school seniors applying to university reported A averages.  Through the years, that percent gradually increased until, post-covid, 80.6% reported A averages. “We’re not trusting, frankly, of GPA these days.  Grades are definitely inflated and not as connected to true class performance as they used to be.” (John Latting, Emory Dean of Admissions) GPA does not seem to convey the distinction it once did and has been used by many universities to reject students who do not have an A average.  It has become challenging for colleges that rely on GPA to discern ability.

The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) began requiring SAT or ACT scores again.  UT Austin found that students who submitted scores were 55% less likely to be on academic probation (GPA under 2.0).  Submitters also had an average of .86 grade points higher, the difference between a 2.4 (in danger of academic probation) and 3.26 (mix of As and Bs).

Grade inflation has necessitated a reevaluation in college admissions. Admissions officers consider many factors to obtain a holistic view of an applicant’s capabilities and potential contributions. “Standardized test scores are a much better prediction of academic success than high school grades.” (Christina Paxson, President of Brown University) Extracurricular activities, leadership roles, community service, letters of recommendation, and personal essays also offer insights into a student’s interests, character, and resilience. These diverse criteria build a more comprehensive student profile.

While GPA remains a significant indicator of academic readiness, grade inflation has required college admissions processes to evolve, placing greater emphasis on other evaluations to identify capable students.

Thank you, Brian Eufinger, of Edison Prep in Atlanta, for some of these statistics, and Barak Moore, of Barak Moore SAT-ACT Tutor in New York, NY for the quotes.  

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