Colleges by GPA: Find the Best Colleges for Your GPA

Grades are certainly important — but when it comes to college, just how important are they? More specifically, how important is your high school GPA is determining whether you will earn acceptance into the college of your choice? 

The answer? While your GPA will be an important factor for colleges, it isn’t the only factor, as admissions officers look for students who will positively contribute inside and outside the classroom.

As you may already know, your GPA (grade point average) is the average of all grades you’ve earned from freshman year until graduation. Sometimes, GPAs are calculated on an unweighted scale, which means they’re averaged with 4.0 as the maximum and 0.0 as the minimum. Other times, GPAs are weighted, which means they’re averaged with 5.0 (an A in an AP class) as the maximum and 0.0 as the minimum. Most high schools will list both on a student’s transcript. 

So, what do these numbers mean for colleges? In some cases, they can be your key to your dream school — or even your key to earning a big scholarship. In other cases, they’re just a piece of the puzzle. 

In this guide, we cover all things GPA: what is considered a good GPA in high school, how much does a GPA matter when it comes to applying to college, and what other factors besides GPA can help boost an application? After answering these questions, we’ll also give you a chance to sign up here on Appily and search colleges by GPA.


What is a Good GPA in High School?

What is a good GPA for high school? More importantly, what is a good high school GPA that will get you into college? The answer depends on the college. Most colleges like to see unweighted GPAs of 3.0 or above, but many will accept passing GPAs of 2.0 or above (a C average). If your GPA is hovering around 2.0 or sitting below 2.0, you want to do everything you can to raise your average. So definitely put in the time to study and get your grades up. 


What is the Average High School GPA?

Ultimately, what makes your GPA good or bad is how well it compares to the GPAs of your peers. So, what is the average GPA in high school? Studies conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) put the national average unweighted GPA right around 3.0, or a B average. Is this average good enough to get into most colleges? The short answer is yes, a 3.0 average will get you into most colleges — as long as your application is up to par or better. More exclusive institutions will likely require a higher GPA, while some schools may accept you based on a 3.0 high school GPA alone.


What are Colleges Looking for in an Applicant (Other than GPA)?

How much does GPA matter for college? It matters, but it’s just one ingredient in the recipe for admissions success. Instead of asking How important is GPA for college?, start asking What do colleges look for in applicants? You’ll find that the answer involves a lot more than just GPA. Having every part of your application look great (including GPA) is the best way to get accepted into your dream school. So, what do colleges look for in a student (besides GPA). Here are a few key things:

  • SAT Scores
  • ACT Scores
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • College Application Essays
  • Volunteer Work
  • Leadership positions


Explore Colleges for Every GPA with Appily

Ready to explore colleges that accept a GPA like yours? We have a comprehensive database to help you find and research schools. There, you can see essential data points like acceptance rate, average financial aid award, average test scores, and application deadlines, including those for rolling admission, early decision, and early action schools. 

Go ahead and search colleges now.