What Colleges Can I Get Into with a 3.5 GPA?

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July 13, 2022
What Do Colleges Think of a 3.5 GPA?Is a 3.5 GPA Good Enough for College?What Colleges Can I Get Into With a 3.5 GPA?Is a 3.5 GPA Good Enough For the Ivy League? How to Improve Your GPA

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/13/22

When it comes to college applications, one of the first things on people’s minds is GPA. Read on to learn what your GPA can do for you.

Many students have a 3.5 GPA and often wonder if it’s a competitive grade or not. If you’re wondering, “what colleges can I get into with a 3.5 GPA?” look no further. Below, we’ve broken down your chances of getting into college with a 3.5 GPA and some strategies for boosting your GPA. 

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What Do Colleges Think of a 3.5 GPA?

Essentially, your GPA tells colleges how well you did in your high school classes, and whether or not you’re ready for the post-secondary education that they provide. Therefore, it’s no surprise that your GPA plays a very important role in your chances of getting accepted.

According to a common GPA scale, the letter grade for a 3.5 GPA is somewhere in between a B+ grade and an A- grade. This roughly translates to an overall average of 90%. Therefore, a 3.5 GPA reflects great overall academic performance in your classes.

Is a 3.5 GPA Good Enough for College?

A 3.5 GPA is competitive for many selective universities. Some prestigious schools like UCLA and Georgetown, both ranked in the top 25 national universities, admit many students with a 3.4 - 3.6 GPA. 

What Colleges Can I Get Into With a 3.5 GPA?

Below, you’ll find information on what schools are reach, match, and safety schools to apply to with a 3.5 GPA. 

Reach Schools

Table outlining the average GPA, SAT and ACT scores, and acceptance rates of New York University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Michigan
Source: New York University, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Michigan

Match Schools

Table outlining the average GPA, SAT and ACT scores, and acceptance rates of University of Oregon, Bucknell University, and Howard University
Source: University of Oregon, Bucknell University, Howard University

Safety Schools

Table outlining the average GPA, SAT and ACT scores, and acceptance rates of Temple University, Texas Tech University, and San Francisco State University
Source: Temple University, Texas Tech University, San Francisco State University

The most selective universities have an acceptance rate of 15% or lower. Such schools would typically require a GPA of 3.7 or higher to qualify as “competitive.” But for many other schools where the acceptance rates are higher, a 3.5 GPA undoubtedly gives you an advantage for admission.

Is a 3.5 GPA Good Enough For the Ivy League? 

Ivy League schools may be in your plans if you're ambitious and at the top of your class. Known for their top-quality education and revered prestige, they are the dream schools of nearly every top student. 

However, Ivy League schools are infamous for their extremely rigorous selection process and low acceptance rates due to such academic excellence. So you might be wondering, is a 3.5 GPA good enough for the Ivy League

To give you an idea, the table below shows you the national ranking (done by US News & World Report) and the acceptance rate of each Ivy League school:

Table outlining the names, locations, national rankings, and acceptance rates of each of the eight Ivy League schools

 

The overall average of Ivy League school acceptance rates is 7.6%. An offer to Ivy League schools is hard to get, but it’s not impossible. 

So, is a 3.5 GPA good enough for Ivy League schools? On its own, it likely isn’t enough to provide the competitiveness you’ll need to get an offer. Of course, it is possible to get accepted with a stellar application. You’ll need to rely on other impressive achievements to improve your chances. 

Fortunately, even though a 3.5 GPA itself might not suffice, it isn’t far from a GPA that will. A GPA of 3.7 is enough competitiveness to win you serious consideration for an Ivy League offer.

How to Improve Your GPA

The best way to improve your GPA is to do well in your courses. You must be willing to work hard, face challenges, and have a persistent and tough mentality. It’s a mission that takes a lot, and you may run into challenges, but it’s certainly not impossible to accomplish.

Corresponding to a 3.5 GPA, the letter grade is around a B+ or A-. To boost your GPA, you’ll need to score an A or A+ in most of your courses. 

Here are a few key ways to improve your grades:

Manage Your Time 

How you handle your time is possibly the most important factor in determining your academic performance. Time management is a vital skill that many universities deem important, especially Ivy League schools. 

Here are some time management skills to practice: 

These might seem very basic, but they are crucial to your academic success.

Choose Your Courses Wisely

The best way to improve your GPA is to do well in your courses. You must be willing to work hard, face challenges, and have a persistent and tough mentality. It’s a mission that takes a lot, and you may run into challenges, but it’s certainly not impossible to accomplish.

Here are some strategies to apply to your coursework to boost your GPA: 

Your academic performance in later high school years is the most important for your GPA, so you should put a higher priority on your studies during those times. It might be tempting to spend your last year in high school doing something fun and unforgettable, but those plans can wait until you’ve gotten your offer of admission.

Final Thoughts 

If you’re still wondering, “what colleges can I get into with a 3.5 GPA?” here’s what you need to know. You might have some difficulty getting into an Ivy League school, but there’s a lot that you can do with a 3.5 GPA. Letter grades around B+ to A- reflect a very solid academic performance and consistently high effort. 

Overall, if you’re getting a 3.5 GPA in Grade 12, you don’t really have much to worry about academically, but you still need to do a lot to maintain it. And, if you wish to improve, you need to step up your efforts further. 

Fortunately, you are not far away from the best. It isn’t that easy, either, but as long as you put enough time and effort into your studies and ask for enough help and guidance, you’ll be able to achieve the academic performance you’ve always wanted.


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