6 Things Your Teen’s High School GPA Tells Colleges

By Huntington Learning Center

Ask any teacher how much grades really matter in high school and you’re certain to get the same answer: a lot. 

When teens get to junior year and start getting their college applications together, it becomes especially clear that grades are at the top of the list of factors that just about every college and university considers when evaluating applicants. Colleges want to know that the students they accept into their school are well-prepared to succeed. Yes, those SAT and ACT scores are important to colleges, but when evaluated alongside the GPA. Still, on its own, the GPA speaks loud and clear about your teen as a student. 

Here are six things your teen’s high school GPA says to the colleges and universities to which he applies: 

  1. How much your teen cares about school – Whether completely true or not, your teen’s grades make an impression that lasts. Low grades across the board could send the message that your teen was apathetic in high school, whereas high grades imply that school is something that your teen gave a lot of attention.
  2. Grasp on the subject matter – Obviously, grades are an indicator of how well students understand each subject. To the college admissions officer, high grades show that your teen met teachers’ expectations throughout the duration of those classes and acquired the knowledge needed to master the material.
  3. Your teen’s effort – While there will be times that your teen tries hard in a class and the grade doesn’t reflect that, generally, good grades don’t come without sincere effort. If your teen has a strong GPA, that tells colleges he tried and persevered even through challenging classes.
  4. Long-term potential – Visit any college’s admissions website and you’re sure to find some statement about its goal of admitting highly qualified students with the ability to succeed in their academic environment. Your teen’s grades are a big consideration for colleges for the simple reason that they want to admit students with high potential.
  5. Preparation for school and life success – The next time your teen claims that grades are just a letter/number, remind him of this fact: to colleges, grades are an indicator of future success. That certainly doesn’t mean your teen will fail in college if his grades aren’t the greatest today, but an admissions officer could be concerned that he isn’t prepared for the rigors of college academics.
  6. Commitment to putting in the work – Getting good grades is the result of several things: effort, knowledge of the subject matter and dedication to demonstrating that knowledge to a teacher. When your teen earns a high GPA, that tells colleges that he was committed to going to school, studying and doing homework. 

Urge your teen not to make the mistake of assuming that colleges value SAT and ACT scores more than grades—it simply isn’t true. Both are important, of course, but high scores on the SAT or ACT will not compensate for a low GPA. 

Encourage your teen to work hard in school by taking AP or honors classes (that is appropriate for your teen’s skill, of course). If your teen recently received a less-than-stellar report card, don’t wait to correct the problem, as every report card counts toward the GPA. Huntington can help. Contact us to learn more about how we can develop a customized program of instruction to help your teen address any academic challenges and raise those grades before the next report card.