Is A 3.8 GPA Good For College Admissions?

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June 7, 2022
How Colleges View Your GPAWeighted vs. Unweighted GPAIs a 3.8 GPA Good for College Admissions?Colleges You Can Get into with a 3.8 GPA How to Raise Your GPAFAQs: 3.8 GPA3.8 GPA for College? You Can Do This

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/25/22

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. 

Is a 3.8 GPA good enough to get into college? 

“Good” and “bad” are difficult terms to use with GPA as they are subjective; one applicant might be over the moon if they received a 3.8 GPA, and another may burst into tears. As we will show, this is a high average. However, some universities may have freshmen with higher GPAs. 

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. 

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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 you can choose at high school include AP classes, the IB Program, and honors courses. 

The weighted GPA system aims to provide colleges with 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 grades in your courses 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 a student receives a mixture of A’s and B’s in advanced-level courses, their overall GPA may be lower than someone 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. 

Is a 3.8 GPA Good for College Admissions?

The minimum GPA needed to graduate and remain eligible for financial aid, experts say, is 2.0 on a 4.0 scale. So, is a 3.8 GPA good?

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 colleges and the difficulty of your courses. 

For example, Harvard’s average GPA is 4.18, so you’ll have to get straight As in nearly all of your classes to be a competitive applicant. 

Colleges You Can Get into with a 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 largest private universities in the country and is ranked 28th in U.S. News’ Best National University rankings. The average test scores and GPA of NYU’s admitted students are:  

3 bubbles outlining the Average GPA, SAT, and ACT scores of NYU's admitted students

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 34th in U.S. News’s Best National University rankings. 

The average high school GPA of Rochester’s admitted students is 3.75, and the middle 50% range of standardized test scores achieved are:  

3 bubbles outlining the middle 50% SAT section and overal ACT scores of the University of Rochester's admitted students

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; the university received $574 million in sponsored research awards

BU encourages its students to pursue collaborative research efforts and provides opportunities to gain innovative experiences and skills. BU is ranked 42nd in U.S. News’s Best National University rankings. The average test scores and GPA of BU’s admitted students are:  

3 bubbles outlining the Average GPA, SAT, and ACT scores of NYU's admitted students

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: 

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

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 or at 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 are struggling with a math concept, mention it specifically when you are with your tutor.

Go to Summer School

Look, 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 of your choosing at summer school. This means you can pick a subject you have struggled with and use a new learning environment to get the grades you need. 

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 compared to the 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 it is, what college you’re interested in, and what the average GPA of admitted students is. When compared to the average GPA achieved by high school students, 3.8 is certainly more competitive. 

However, if you are striving 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 many prestigious colleges that accept students with an average GPA under 3.8. Remember, colleges will look at your classes’ difficulty, so push yourself and take more challenging courses if your schedule allows it. Good luck!


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