Does Your High School GPA Matter?

Instructor: A Ray Tatum

A. Ray has taught junior high, high school and college English and has a master's degree in curriculum.

Grade point averages have stressed students for years. Does GPA really matter? This article explains the importance of high school GPA for college or a career and offers some learning resources that can help you raise your grades.

The Importance of GPA

A student's GPA is a major criteria that colleges and employers look at to evaluate a person's potential. GPA indicates how hard a student has worked, how much he or she knows, and where his or her strengths and weaknesses lie. Whether you are a still in high school, applying for colleges, or looking for work after graduation, your GPA will likely affect your future prospects.

Colleges Care

When applying to a college or university, an unknown person is overlooking your paperwork to determine if you are the right fit. Assessing your GPA is one of the ways they do that. The larger or more selective the university, the more likely a strong GPA is needed for acceptance. For many schools, grades in college prep courses are the number one criteria used by admissions in deciding who's in and who's not.

Your high school GPA may be more or less of a factor depending on the type of school you are applying to. Large colleges tend to have stricter cut-offs according to numbers, and GPA is often the most important number. Small schools, junior colleges and state universities may have a more holistic approach to selection, so for these types of schools, GPA may not be as important. To learn more about how colleges make these decisions, take a look at the lesson How to Evaluate College Admissions Criteria.

Employers Care

In the case of high school graduates who are entering directly into the job market, prospective employers often consider GPA to get a feel for what kind of worker he or she may be. According to a survey of companies cited by Forbes in 2013, a majority stated that they do screen applicants by GPA. These companies see GPA as a crucial indicator of whether a person is able to perform the duties of the job.

However, not all employers treat GPA equally. GPA is more likely to be taken into consideration for larger companies. Smaller companies may be less interested in GPA than their larger counterparts. In addition, other criteria can play a role in hiring decisions, such as internships, volunteer work, previous work history, and even interviewing and job application skills.

If you are currently in the job market, check out our course How to Choose a Career. You'll find tips for navigating the application process, including preparing for an interview, setting realistic goals after graduation, and learn about how your school history relates to your chosen career.

Tips for Raising Your GPA

Remember, high school GPA includes all classes starting in the freshman year. Yet, while it's always easier to start with a good GPA, it's never too late to improve one. Students may find that improving their study skills can have a positive effect on their overall academic performance. This lesson on how to improve study skills gives students some tips that can help get their GPA where it needs to be for their chosen college or career. also offers a number of courses that can help high schoolers raise their grades. Check out our library of high school courses, which use lively video lessons to instruct students in subjects ranging from freshman to senior English, writing, math, history, science, and even advanced placement prep courses. Each course comes with lesson quizzes and practice final exams to help you assess your progress. You can even submit questions to the instructors if you need assistance.

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

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