GPA refers to your grade point average. For most high schools, this is a cumulative average from grades nine through twelve. In some cases, if you earned high school credit for courses you attended in middle school, the grades you earned in those classes will be included in your GPA. The most widely recognized system is a 4-point system that assigns a number to each grade. For example, an A will earn you 4 points toward your GPA, a B is equivalent to 3 points, a C is 2 points, and so on. Schools may choose to add half points for + or -, or add additional points to honors or advanced placement classes. It is a good idea to track your GPA as you progress through high school. Your high school counselor or registrar will be able to get you a copy of your transcript, which will contain your GPA. If you do not fully understand your school’s grading system, make sure you get a copy of that policy as well.
GPA is also one of the tools used by colleges to determine your eligibility for admission. Each college varies greatly, but as a general rule of thumb, the more difficult it is to get into the school, the higher the GPA required. Generally, state schools do not demand as high a GPA as competitive private schools—but that isn’t always the case. At the University of Texas in Austin, for example, with minor exceptions, if you didn’t graduate in the top ten percent of your high school class, you have very little chance of getting in.
For a communications degree, the GPA required will depend on the school chosen. Here are examples of admission requirements for two different schools:
University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication: Generally regarded as having one of the top programs in the country, the University of Pennsylvania is a private university. Costs run high, but financial aid is readily available. Admissions requirements are rigorous, with most students in the top five percent of their high school graduating class. Admission to the undergraduate communications program is generally completed at the end of a student’s freshman year after completion of three prerequisite courses in communications.
University of Kansas: Located in Lawrence, Kansas, this is another top school in communications. As a state school, the cost is reasonable ($7,400 tuition and fees for state residents), and freshmen can have direct admission to the program if their high school GPA is at least a 3.7 on a 4.0 scale. If you do not meet the minimum guideline, you can apply for admission to the school of Mass Communications at the end of your freshman year.
GPA is only one of the criteria used in college admissions. If you are still in high school, work hard to maintain the best GPA you can. If you are a senior who is ready to apply to colleges and your GPA isn’t high enough to gain entrance into the college or university of your dreams, consider attending a two-year school and improving your GPA before applying as a transfer student next year.