Is A 3.8 GPA Good For College Admissions?

Red apple sitting on a stack of books
November 22, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 11/22/23

If you’re wondering, “How good is a 3.8 GPA?” or what a 3.8 GPA is weighted to unweighted, this guide has all the answers. Read on to learn more about what your GPA means for you. 

If you are worried about your GPA and college, this article will explore how colleges view your GPA and how you can improve it. We’ll also provide some colleges you can get into with a 3.8 GPA and tips for getting accepted.

Is a 3.8 GPA Good?

A 3.8 GPA is considered to be a very good GPA and suggests students' academic performance is strong for getting into college. A 3.8 GPA is a 3.8 out of 4.0 grade Grade Point Average. It indicates that you've earned a predominantly A- average in your courses.

The average GPA achieved by high school students is 3.0. If you achieve a 3.8 GPA, your grades are likely above many of your peers. However, classing a 3.8 GPA as “good” depends on your chosen college and the difficulty of your courses. 

How Colleges View Your GPA

Grade point average (GPA) indicates the average value of your final course grades. When colleges look at your GPA, they are not looking at the number alone; admissions officers view your GPA within the context of your coursework difficulty. This is where the difference between weighted GPA and unweighted GPA comes to the fore. 

Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA

A weighted GPA represents the average value of your final grades in a course while considering its difficulty. The more challenging course options at high school include AP classes, the IB Program, and honors courses. 

The weighted GPA system aims to give colleges a clearer idea of a student’s college readiness, measured on a scale from 0 to 5.0. 

Blue circle showing Weighted GPA Measuring Scale of 0 to 5.0
Weighted GPA Measuring Scale

Unlike a weighted GPA, an unweighted GPA indicates the average value of your final course grades without factoring in their difficulty. For example, an A in an advanced course gives the same GPA as an A in a regular course.

Thus, if students receive a mixture of A’s and B’s in advanced-level courses, their overall GPA may be lower than those who received straight A’s in regular courses. Unlike weighted GPA, unweighted GPA is calculated on a scale from 0 to 4.0. 

Blue circle showing unweighted GPA Measuring Scale of 0 to 4.0
Unweighted GPA Measuring Scale

Most colleges don’t have a preference for either option. However, they will recalculate your GPA on an unweighted scale to determine a final figure. 

Colleges For 3.8 GPA

You may be wondering, “What colleges can I get into with a 3.8 gpa?” Let’s take a look at a few options.

New York University (NYU)

NYU is renowned for its innovative academics and international focus. It has degree-granting campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai and 11 study-away sites worldwide. NYU is proud of its diverse and international student body from 133 countries. 

NYU is one of the country's largest private universities and ranked 35th in the U.S. News’s Best National University rankings. NYU’s admissions requirements include:

  • Common Application
  • Official score reports 
  • One or two teacher evaluations
  • English language testing (if applicable)
  • High school transcript 
  • $80 application fee 
  • Official records of all college work that you have received academic credit for  
  • Mid Year Report 

To fulfill NYU’s standardized testing requirements, you must submit one of the following options: 

  • SAT
  • ACT
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma
  • Three SAT Subject Test scores
  • Three AP Exam scores
  • Three IB higher-level exam scores if not an IB Diploma candidate
  • Other international examinations

If you apply to the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and the Tisch School of the Arts, you can submit a portfolio or audition instead of test scores. 

The average test scores and GPA of NYU’s admitted students are:  

Metric Average Score/Grade
GPA 3.7
SAT 1470 to 1570
ACT 33 to 35
  • 1470 to 1570 Middle 50% range of SAT scores
  • 33 to 35 Middle 50% range of ACT scores
  • Average GPA is 3.7

University of Rochester 

The University of Rochester is described as “​​one of the smallest and most collegiate schools among the nation’s top research universities.” Nearly 90% of its students remain on campus throughout their four-year programs, and there are 280 student organizations to join. 

Rochester offers smaller class sizes and significant collaborations with faculty members. With no curricular requirements, every student can dictate their own learning experience. The University of Rochester is ranked 47th in the U.S. News’s Best National University rankings. 

Rochester’s admissions requirements include: 

  • Common Application or Coalition Application
  • $50 application fee 
  • Secondary school transcript
  • Teacher recommendation 
  • School report/counselor recommendation
  • Mid-year report 
  • Final transcript (when available)
  • College transcript 

The average high school GPA of Rochester’s admitted students is 3.76, and the middle 50% range of standardized test scores achieved are:  

Metric Average Score/Grade
GPA 3.76
SAT 1390-1540
ACT 31-34

Boston University (BU)

Located in the historic city of Boston, Boston University has over 33,500 students from more than 130 countries spread across three campuses. BU is known for its innovative research; it received $574 million in sponsored research awards

BU encourages its students to pursue collaborative research and provides opportunities to gain innovative experiences and skills. BU is ranked 43rd in the U.S. News’s Best National University rankings. 

BU’s admissions requirements include: 

  • Common Application, Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application
  • High School Transcript
  • Senior Year Grades
  • Counselor Recommendation and School Report Form
  • Teacher Evaluation
  • Standardized Tests (Optional)
  • College of Fine Arts Requirements
  • Accelerated Medical Requirements

If you are applying to the College of Fine Arts, there are different admissions requirements. 

The average test scores and GPA of BU’s admitted students are:   

Metric Average Score/Grade
GPA 3.8-4.0
SAT 1442
ACT 33

Of course, these aren’t the only colleges that accept a 3.8 GPA or where your GPA would be competitive. If you’re wondering what other schools you can get into with a 3.8 GPA, here are some others: 

  • Georgia Institute of Technology 
  • University of Illinois 
  • Ohio State University 
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • University of Washington-Seattle Campus

Remember, your options aren’t limited to just these schools with a 3.8 GPA. Getting into schools with higher average GPAs is possible if the rest of your application is perfected and well-rounded. You can also take several steps to raise your GPA, which we will discuss now. 

The University of Miami

The University of Miami is in sunny Coral Gables, Florida, ranked 67th in the U.S. News’s Best National University. It’s a private institution that was founded in 1925. In the past year, the University of Miami had a total undergraduate enrollment of 12,504, and the campus size is 239 acres.

The school has an acceptance rate of 19%. Here are more admission statistics for recently admitted students:

Metric Average Score/Grade
GPA 3.8
SAT 1380-1500
ACT 31-34

Here are the admission requirements for the University of Miami:

  • Common Application
  • High school transcript
  • Test scores (Optional)
  • School report
  • Essay
  • Letter of recommendation 

Because admission requirements vary yearly, remember to check the school website for updated information!

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University is located in University Park, Pennsylvania, and ranked 60th in Best National University. It is a public institution that was founded in 1855. In the past year, it had a total undergraduate enrollment of 41,745, and the campus size is 7,958 acres.

Penn State University has an acceptance rate of 12.6%. Here are more admission statistics for recently admitted students:

Metric Average Score/Grade
GPA 3.11-3.80
SAT 1110-1320
ACT 24-30

Here are the admission requirements for Penn State:

  • Common Application
  • High school transcript
  • Essay
  • Test scores (Optional)
  • Self-Reported Academic Record

Make sure that you check the school’s website for updated admission requirements.

Baylor University

Baylor University is a private institution located in Waco, Texas. It was founded in 1845 and recently had a total undergraduate enrollment of 15,213. The campus is 1,000 acres, making it a large campus for all their admitted students. 

Baylor University was recently named a Research 1 (R1) institution and is one of only 146 research universities representing the top research universities in the U.S. 

Baylor University has an acceptance rate of 38.9%. Here are more admission statistics for recently admitted students:

Metric Average Score/Grade
GPA 3.72
SAT 1266
ACT 28.6

   Here are the admission requirements for Baylor University:

  • Common Application, ApplyTexas, or goBAYLOR
  • High school transcript
  • Test scores (Optional)
  • Self-Reported Academic Record
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Essay

As you can see, Baylor is one of the easier universities to enter than the ones we’ve listed.

Purdue University

Purdue University is a public institution that was founded in 1869. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 37,949, and the campus size is 2,468 acres. It has recently been ranked 43rd in Best National University as well.

Purdue University has an acceptance rate of 50%. Here are more admission statistics for recently admitted students:

Metric Average Score/Grade
GPA 3.6-4.0
SAT 1210-1450
ACT 27-34

 Here are the admission requirements for Penn State:

  • Common Application
  • High school transcript
  • Test scores 
  • Essay

Purdue University is very selective and accepts about half of all applications! 

How to Raise Your GPA

Improving your GPA is no easy feat; it takes time, dedication, and effort. However, there are several strategies you can use to boost your GPA. 

Meet With a Tutor

If you need more help with a class or two, consider scheduling sessions with a tutor. Tutors can help you improve your GPA and give expert advice about how to work more efficiently. You can also learn how to solve problems you have been struggling with. 

You can find a free tutor in places like your school, the library, or a private admissions consultant

These sessions should be as productive as possible, so identify areas you are not confident in and work through them. For example, if you struggle with a math concept, mention it with your tutor.

Go to Summer School

It may not be the most exciting option, but going to summer school can help boost your GPA if you are prepared to sacrifice some of your holidays. 

Summer school offers you the luxury of smaller class sizes in a more relaxed environment, which is helpful for everyone, especially those students who struggle during the regular school year. 

Additionally, you can focus on a subject you choose at summer school. This means you can pick a subject you have struggled with and use a new learning environment to get the needed grades. 

FAQs: 3.8 GPA

Do you still have questions about what colleges you can get into with a 3.8 GPA? Read on to learn more. 

1.  Am I Guaranteed to Get Into Colleges that Accept a 3.8 GPA? 

Your GPA will never guarantee you a spot at any school, but a strong GPA can strengthen your application. If the average admitted student has a GPA lower than 3.8, your GPA at that school is considered more competitive. 

2. How Good Is a GPA of 3.8 Compared to Other High School Students? 

A 3.8 GPA is considered relatively high compared to most high school students' average of 3.0. 

3. Can You Get Into Harvard With a 3.8 GPA? 

Whether a 3.8 GPA can get you into Harvard or not depends on the rest of your application. Although Harvard is an incredibly competitive school, high test scores and a well-rounded profile can help increase your chances of acceptance. 

However, you should try to raise your GPA even more if you plan to apply to Harvard. 

4. If Admitted Students at a College Have GPAs Higher Than 3.8, Should I Still Apply? 

There’s no reason not to apply to a “reach” school or two. After all, there’s still a chance you get accepted with a GPA slightly lower than that of the average admitted student. However, you should ensure you apply to some schools you’re more likely to be accepted with your current GPA.

5. What’s the Difference Between a Weighted 3.8 GPA and an Unweighted? 

A weighted 3.8 GPA takes the difficulty of your courses into account and is typically measured between 0 to 5.0. An unweighted GPA of 3.8 is considered “higher” because it’s on a 4.0 scale. 

6. Can I Bring Up My 3.8 GPA to a 4.0? 

It’s possible to bring up a 3.8 GPA to a 4.0 with enough time and effort. It might be challenging to raise your GPA if this is your last semester, but two semesters or more should be enough time to get close to a 4.0.

3.8 GPA for College? You Can Do This

So, is a 3.8 GPA good enough to get into college? 

In short, it depends on numerous factors:

  • Which type of GPA is it?
  • What college are you interested in?
  • What is the average GPA of admitted students?

Compared to the average GPA achieved by high school students, 3.8 is certainly more competitive. 

However, if you strive for a 4.0 GPA, meeting a tutor and attending summer school are excellent ways to work through any issues and achieve higher grades. 

NYU, Rochester, and BU are a few examples of prestigious colleges that accept students with an average GPA of around 3.8. Remember, colleges will examine your classes’ difficulty, so push yourself and take more challenging courses if your schedule allows it. Good luck! 

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