The Skinny on GPA

Just_A_Mom

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Mmm, I didn't know that. Thank-you for that information. I will make sure to worry less about my gpa and more about how tough my classes are. (I know this thread isn't about me) so I'll just say that I've been taking a tough enough schedule that I can still get all A's (I've made sure the science, math, and english are all honors and AP). But if a more tough schedule and getting like a 3.9 or 3.8 will look better than should I be doing that? I think gpa still has some influence since the average gpa I believe for the classes is a 3.8. I don't want to take this thread away from being about JConnolly, but if someone could elaborate more, I'd appreciate it.

GPA by itself is a meaningless number. Do not even attempt to compare GPA's from students at different schools. High schools use different criteria in calclating GPA and the "weighting" of grades.

When someone comes on here and post's his/her GPA - that number doesn't begin to tell the story. The whole academic story is found in the transcript.

Service academies look at your class rank and your strength of schedule and your grades in core courses.
Do well in all of that and you probably have a decent GPA.
It isn't that you don't have to worry about your GPA - just realize that you aren't comparing apples to apples when comparing GPA's.
Select colleges know this and they actually have developed methods where they take apart a student's transcript and reacalculate GPA's so they can compare the academic progress of applicants.

Some kids with high GPA's have padded them by doing well in electives and taking college prep level core courses instead of challenging themselves with honors classes.
Others kids will have a lower GPA but the transcript shows they have challenged themselves consistently with honors and AP classes, especially in math and science.
It is entirely possible to have a kid with a 4.0 who earned it by taking a lot of easy classes, while a kid with a 3.5 earned it by honors and AP classes.

I am not sure where you saw the average 3.8 gpa number, if it did come from the Naval Academy then it is most likely a compliation of their statistics from recalculating transcripts.

Your goal is not to worry less about your GPA but to do well in high level classes challenging yourself especially in math and science. Pay attention to your class rank. The Naval Academy wants you in the top 20% of your class.
 

USNA69

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I am not sure where you saw the average 3.8 gpa number, if it did come from the Naval Academy then it is most likely a compliation of their statistics from recalculating transcripts.

I doubt very seriously if it came from USNA.

The Naval Academy wants you in the top 20% of your class.

As a minimum.

The only time the Academy uses GPA is if the school does not rank students. Then they will use the GPA, if available, to guesstimate a class rank.

Also, the school ranking is as important as the candidate's ranking.
 

hornetguy

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My understanding is that each school has a ranking for its difficulty and that is combined with your class rank as part of the Ac Comp score that they compile for everyone.
 

USNA69

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USAFA is slightly different than USNA and WP but I agree with what you stated in re USNA.
 

Just_A_Mom

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My understanding is that each school has a ranking for its difficulty and that is combined with your class rank as part of the Ac Comp score that they compile for everyone.

In "each school" I take it you mean high school -
Admissions knows the profiles of each high school.... average SAT scores, grading scale, how many kids go to 4 year colleges, the strength of curriculum.

They know if you are coming from a Prep high school that sends 95% of grads to 4 year colleges (and half of those to ivies) vs. a suburban high school that sends 60% vs a rural high school that sends only 30% to college - they also make adjustments in your class rank for this - if you come from a highly selective Prep high school your class rank may be far lower than the 20% "cutoff" - but if you come from a small rural high school they probably expect your class rank to be higher than the top 20%.

It is a juggling process to try to compare lots of kids from lots of different high schools with lots of different curricula and lots of different grading systems.

You job as a high school student seeking admission is to take the highest level of classes you can( esp math and science), while doing the best academic work that you can.
The service academies will not penalize you if your school doesn't offer AP courses or high level courses like calculus, however if your school does offer them and you choose not to schedule them - they will probably ask you why.
 

kpmom2011

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others things too

Don't forget the varsity athletics. It seems that all the academy apps want to see a student that can maintain a high GPA while involved in athletics and outside volunteer work.
 

Just_A_Mom

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kpmom2001:

you are so correct.
This thread on GPA was started as a continuation of the "Waitlist....." thread on the USNA forum.
I was attempting to show Aeroman why GPA's are a meaningless number as far as determining if a candidate is scholastically qualified.

So, yes, to take it one step further - athletics and leadership activities play a very important role in admissions. Furthermore, if you attempt to explain to your BGO (or other admissions rep) that you passed on Calculus your senior year because you are on the soccer, basketball, track team (or insert your favorite, time comsuming activity here) then you probably won't get much sympathy - even if your GPA is a 3.8.
 

USNA69

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Another reason USNA does not look at GPAs, and I am surprised ZAP has not jumped in here, is another reason that it does not paint a correct picture. Is a 3.75 GPA such because A. The candidate received all 'B's his freshman year and nothing but 'A's since, B. The Candidate receive all 'A's until his senior year, and then received all 'B's, or C. The candidate has basically maintained all 'A's throughtout high school except for that nagging repeating 'B' in math? Same GPA, three completely different candidates.
 

jamzmom

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One of the answers will be, "Well, if you want this appointment, get yourself down to the nearest college & get it taken care of". That was a scary time in son's life & cost me $600 bucks. :thumb:

My advice? Skip the AP Stats & go for the highest math you can get.
 

USNA69

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I will get zapped for antedotal data but here in NC we do double period single semester courses and there is something about Calculus that causes SAT math retakes to soar. My larger increases have always come right after or at the tail end of calc.
 

ChipAyten

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Yep, and, trust me, there are not too many good answers.

Hows "I am more of the humanities student." too bad the federal service academies are engineering and math/science oriented.

Communications major :thumb:
 

USNA69

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Hows "I am more of the humanities student." too bad the federal service academies are engineering and math/science oriented.

Yep, heard it. In all it's variations.

Used to explain low math SATs also.

More than once; couldn't take calculus AND that third language I really had to have.
 

Just_A_Mom

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Hows "I am more of the humanities student." too bad the federal service academies are engineering and math/science oriented.

Communications major :thumb:

Two points:
1. The service academies are all engineering/technical schools. Every student is required to take calculus and physics as part of the core program.

2. Even humanities students can take calculus. Higher level math teaches you how to think. The Service Academies want kids who can think. With almost every high school offering calculus now (not so 30 years ago) it is hard to find a competitive candidate who has not had calculus. If admissions comes down to two equal candidates except that one took calculus and the other did not, the one with calculus gets the nod.
Most business schools require calculus now. Notre Dame required every entering freshman to have had or be prepared to take calculus - yes even football players. Anyone who is applying to a highly selective univeristy should have calculus to compete for admission. Service Academies are highly selective.
 

ChipAyten

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Stupid limits and those derivatives and x-squizzles >_< If required to take calculus why not require cadets and midshipman to take modern and classic literature classes as well? Higher level reading and verbalization is the basis of all thought (all of our cognition is done with words.) In my opinion reading teaches you to think just as well, or if not better than math can. And not just thinking, reading developes a deeper understanding of the world. You can program any software to plug and chug formulas but it can never understand what it is doing. Which is why I believe humanistic artificial intellegence can never be achieved.

Sorry, went a little off topic there, I am a big psychology buff. Just my point is dont neglect one field of thought for another. While assuming someone with a better math than SAT is more suitable for one of the service academies.

And remember, calculus is still a college level course. Dont penalize an applicant because they wanted to take AP English and U.S. History over AP Physics or Calc. while doing just as well as the Phys/Calc student.
 
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The Commissioner

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I attended a university where at least half the students were enrolled in the College of Engineering. They could be easily stereotyped as math strong, humanities weak. Fast forward past graduation and well into the career and many of them tell me they wish they had taken more humanities courses, and especially more writing. They saw their careers limited because they didn't have the highly developed communications skills necessary to sell their ideas.
 

hornetguy

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why not require cadets and midshipman to take modern and classic literature classes as well? Higher level reading and verbalization is the basis of all thought (all of our cognition is done with words.) In my opinion reading teaches you to think just as well, or if not better than math can.

It's called English 211 here. ;)
 

USNA69

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Sorry, went a little off topic there, I am a big psychology buff. Just my point is dont neglect one field of thought for another. While assuming someone with a better math than SAT is more suitable for one of the service academies.

And remember, calculus is still a college level course. Dont penalize an applicant because they wanted to take AP English and U.S. History over AP Physics or Calc. while doing just as well as the Phys/Calc student.

Yep, a little off topic. Our role here is kind of like that of the American soldier and sailor, we are not here to form policy, only to implement it. The point JAM was making, even though it is in the off-topic forum, is that USNA does not consider GPAs. They don't.

Being a very competitive technical school, USNA seeks out ways that one candidate will rise over another. By the nature of the beast, math and science are more important than English and history. They are looking for validation that all candidates can get through the basic engineering program. Throughout my life, I have heard of a lot of college students who dropped out of the engineering program and obtained a liberal arts degree. I have never heard of a single opposite situation.


I attended a university where at least half the students were enrolled in the College of Engineering. They could be easily stereotyped as math strong, humanities weak. Fast forward past graduation and well into the career and many of them tell me they wish they had taken more humanities courses, and especially more writing. They saw their careers limited because they didn't have the highly developed communications skills necessary to sell their ideas.

Which is why a SA degree is so valuable. It is a very well rounded education. Engineering students will be well-versed in the humanities and vice versa.
 

ChipAyten

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The same premise applies to jobs in both the civilian and military sector. For example, many law firms would rather have a potential employee to have a strong background in english through undergrad and be a good orator and writer. The law is easy to teach. Considering modern day urban warfare being able to communicate and understand what people are thinking is essential. Especially when you are in command of a platoon patrolling through a town whose inhabitants would rather you not be there.

From an Army direct combat MOS standpoint calculus and advanced engineering courses will help you minimally when taking fire. Yes they teach you to think, but so do many other classes. And taking a majority of math classes also train you to think in a way that is very formulated and regimented based only on following a set procedure. This could be detrimental to an officer in the army whose job is not Black and White and must adjust their thinking depending on their situations.
 
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