What Colleges Can I Get Into with a 3.5 GPA?

Which colleges accept a 3.5 GPA?
April 29, 2024
6 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/26/24

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.

What Colleges Can I Get Into With a 3.5 GPA?

A 3.5 GPA is a respectable score for a high school student. Even for a middle schooler, a 3.5 GPA is great. But to prepare for college, you’ll need to be aware of what to expect when applying to your desired schools. 

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

List of 3.5 GPA Colleges

Here is a list of the top 50 best-ranking colleges that accept a 3.5 GPA. Even if they’re not Ivy League, these are some good options to apply to!

College Average GPA
Yeshiva University 3.41
University of Miami 3.7
Santa Clara University 3.67
Lafayette College 3.53
Southern Methodist University 3.68
Trinity University 3.68
Bucknell University 3.62
Occidental College 3.63
Connecticut College 3.7
Union College 3.5
Whitman College 3.68
Muhlenberg College 3.44
American University 3.7
Purdue University Main Campus 3.67
Furman University 3.61
Texas Christian University 3.68

College Average GPA
Chapman University 3.7
Rutgers University New Brunswick 3.3
Texas A & M University College Station 3.68
Elon University 3.65
Fordham University 3.67
University of Portland 3.66
Providence College 3.47
Hobart William Smith College 3.55
Drexel University 3.67
Wofford College 3.7
Seattle University 3.62
University of San Francisco 3.57
Fairfield University 3.67
Saint Joseph’s University 3.65
St Mary's College of Maryland 3.45
Westmont College 3.59

College Average GPA
Centre College 3.62
Oberlin College 3.67
Drake University 3.7
Virginia Military Institute 3.65
Clark University 3.69
St Olaf College 3.68
Gonzaga University 3.67
St Lawrence University 3.6
Westminster College 3.57
University of the Pacific 3.58
Syracuse University 3.69
The New School 3.59
Manhattan College 3.63
Rochester Institute of Technology 3.7
Quinnipiac University 3.39
University of St Thomas 3.63
Wheaton College 3.48
University of Puget Sound 3.56

Reach Schools

New York
Emory University University of Michigan
Average GPA 3.70 3.89 3.9 - 4.0
Average SAT score 1470-1570 1470-1560 1350-1530
Average ACT score 33-35 33-35 31-34
Acceptance Rate 8% 11% 18%

Source: New York University, New York University, Emory University, U.S. News, University of Michigan

Match Schools

University of Oregon University
of San Francisco
Temple University
Average GPA 3.46-4.06 3.7 3.4
Average SAT score 1140-1370 1210-1410 1120-1370
Average ACT score 24-30 27-31 24-31
Acceptance Rate 86% 71% 80%

Source: University of Oregon, U.S. News, University of San Francisco, Temple University

Safety Schools

Cleveland State University Indiana University Northwest San Francisco State University
Average GPA 3.3 3.1 2.5 (California residents)
3.0 (Non-residents)
Average SAT score 900-1170 950-1170 Not required
Average ACT score 18-25 20-25 Not required
Acceptance Rate 85% 80% 91%

Source: Cleveland State University, Indiana University Northwest, San Francisco State University, College Board, US News

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.

Do you want to know what your chances are of getting into college? Check out our College Admission Chances Calculator and see what your odds of getting into college is!

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 on an unweighted scale. Therefore, a 3.5 GPA on an unweighted scale (or even on a weighted scale) 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 Rutgers University, both ranked in the top 50 national universities, admit many students with a 3.4 - 3.6 GPA. 

The answer to what a 3.5 GPA is roughly equivalent to is about 90%. This is a commendable GPA overall!

Is a 3.5 GPA Good Enough For the Ivy League? 

Source: The Daily Pennsylvanian

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:

School Name National Ranking Acceptance Rate
Princeton University 1 6%
Harvard University 3 (tie) 3%
Yale University 5 5%
University of Pennsylvania 6 7%
Brown University 9 (tie) 5%
Columbia University 12 (tie) 4%
Cornell University 12 (tie) 7%
Dartmouth College 18 (tie) 6%

The overall average of Ivy League school acceptance rates is about 5%. 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: 

  • Attend All of Your Classes: Classes are the best places for learning, so take the opportunity. After class, review your notes and what you’ve learned. 
  • Start Tasks Early & Be Aware of Deadlines: Spend the most time on assignments that weigh more. The more something weighs, the more time you might need to spend to do well on it. 
  • Don’t Procrastinate: Not giving yourself enough time will put you at risk of missing assignment due dates or test preparations, and the quality of your work could also decrease.
  • Eliminate All Distractions: When you’re studying, put aside everything else until you’re finished with your academic schedule.
  • Utilize Your Teachers’ Office Hours: When you study, you’ll likely run into questions you’ll need help with, so you must also allocate enough time for solving those problems. When you need help, make sure you reach out as soon as you can.

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: 

  • Take Relevant Courses: Make sure you select the subjects that show you’re good in the undergraduate program you applied for.
  • Take Courses that Play Into Your Strengths: What subjects are you good at? These courses won’t just be a relatively easier way to boost your GPA but will also show that you have diverse skills, knowledge, and interests.
  • Take Challenging Courses: Do not stockpile your schedule with easier courses as a cheap way to increase your GPA. Selective universities, especially Ivy League schools, want applicants who can take on challenges and perform well despite the difficulties. 

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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