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Everything You Need to Know About GPA and College Acceptance Rates

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Written by CB Community
A top question on the minds of most prospective college students is: What GPA do I need to get into college?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t a simple number. It’s something closer to well, it depends. The national average for GPA is 3.0. So if your GPA is above a B average, chances are some universities might accept your application. But GPA isn’t the only factor that college admissions teams take into consideration. In fact, each university has its own set of admission requirements.
This might include taking a look into what types of classes you’ve taken. And whether those classes were easy or challenging. It might also include what extracurricular activities you were apart of. Additionally, they consider if you’ve held any leadership positions.
Standardized test scores are another common admissions requirement that generally varies by school. But you can find out how rigorous a college application process is. The best way to do so is to check the college’s acceptance rate. Also, you can predict whether your application will be accepted. The college’s acceptance rate can give you a good idea of your chances of being accepted there.

Colleges with Low Acceptance Rates

Colleges with low acceptance rates accept only a small number of the applications submitted each year.
Schools may have low acceptance rates for a variety of reasons. For instance, some colleges need students to meet financial aid requirements to be accepted. These schools often offer free tuition. Hence, they can only accept a small number of students each academic year. Others need students to meet specific criteria for acceptance. Military schools are an example of this. Some music conservatories, like Juilliard, only accept students who can play music at a high level.
The most common reason for a college to have a low acceptance rate is the need for high academic standards. Ivy league colleges are the best example of this. The average GPA for students to be into a low acceptance school is 3.81. The table below provides acceptance rates and GPA scores for popular low acceptance universities.


School Name Acceptance Rate Average GPA
Stanford University 4.7% 4.18
Harvard University 5.2% 4.04
Princeton University 6.4% 3.87
University of Chicago 8.7% 4.00
University of Pennsylvania 9.3% 3.90
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering 13.4% 3.90
Pitzer College 16.2% 3.85
Vanderbilt University 10.9% 3.76
Johns Hopkins University 12.5% 3.74
Cooper Union 13.1% 3.60
University of California- Berkeley 17.1% 3.86
University of Southern California 16.0% 3.73
University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA) 16.1% 4.29
Davidson College 20.2% 3.90
Vassar College 23.8% 3.80
Barnard College 15.4% 3.84
Wesleyan University 16.3% 3.73
Carnegie Mellon University 22.2% 3.69
Kenyon College 33.8% 3.90
Colgate University 28.1% 3.64
Babson College 24.2% 3.60
Emory University 22.0% 3.80
Scripps College 33.4% 4.13
Tulane University 21.5% 3.50
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill 24.4% 4.60
University of Virginia 27.3% 4.22
Hampton University 36.2% 3.30
Lafayette College 30.8% 3.46
Bucknell University 31.1% 3.54
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo 34.6% 3.87
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 26.5% 3.82
Ohio Valley University 28.6% 3.06
Oberlin College 33.7% 3.57
College of William and Mary 35.9% 4.12
Trinity College 38.4% 3.50


High Acceptance Schools

Colleges with high acceptance rates accept more of the applications submitted to them each year. Some schools even have open acceptance policies. This means that the only admission requirement is a high school diploma, or in some cases a GED. Also, admission is often granted continually throughout the year. Hence, deadlines for submitting applications aren’t as strict as low acceptance schools. The average high school GPA for students accepted into these colleges is 3.25.

Here are acceptance rates and average GPAs for students in some of the most popular high acceptance universities.


School Name Acceptance Rate Average GPA
University of Pikeville Open 3.07
Wayne State College Open 3.23
Weber State University Open 3.12
New Mexico Highlands University Open 2.94
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College 75.8% 3.16
Utah Valley University Open 3.39
Brigham Young University–Idaho 94.8% 3.40
Cameron University Open 3.11
Nyack College 98.4% 2.74
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania 92.5% 3.14
Harding University 72.1% 3.58
Lewis-Clark State College 99.6% 3.07
Evergreen State College 96.3% 3.00
Grand View University 92.7% 3.20
Missouri Western State University Open 3.25
Shepherd University 89.1% 3.27
East Central University 48.0% 3.30
Bluefield College 91.1% 3.00
Utah State University 89.1% 3.46
University of Wyoming 96.8% 3.48
Western State Colorado University 86.0% 3.10
Westminster College 92.7% 3.50
Wayland Baptist University 98.8% 3.24
Huntington University 80.5% 3.46
Wright State University Open 3.19
Covenant College 95.2% 3.60
Truett McConnell College 94.6% 3.24
Martin Luther College 70.6% 3.49
Saint Ambrose University 60.8% 3.28
Missouri Southern State University 95.1% 3.20
Regis University 59.9% 3.54
New England College 99.6% 2.66
Indiana Wesleyan University 72.0% 3.59
University of Akron Open 3.00
Wichita State University 93.8% 3.47
Bethel University 93.6% 2.90
Loras College 95.1% 3.42
San Francisco Art Institute 74.7% 3.09
Kansas State University 94.1% 3.47
Goshen College 63.9% 3.50
University of Toledo Open 3.15
Tennessee Technological University 64.4% 3.50
Lubbock Christian University 94.1% 3.37
University of Central Arkansas 89.9% 3.30
Neumann University 96.3% 2.88
La Roche College 96.6% 3.19
Houghton College 91.4% 3.53
Linfield College 80.8% 3.66
Marygrove College 41.0% 3.00
Southern Vermont College 90.7% 2.80
Bemidji State University 66.2% 3.10
Freed-Hardeman University 95.3% 3.53
Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania 89.0% 3.28
Southern Oregon University 78.5% 3.30
Sul Ross State University Open 3.06
Northern Kentucky University 90.4% 3.24
Western Kentucky University 95.5% 3.20
Thomas More College 91.2% 3.30
University of the Incarnate Word 93.9% 3.48

How to Analyze Your Current GPA

Besides your target schools’ admissions requirements, you need to know your current GPA . this can help you to know if you’re on track to reach your goals. There are several factors to consider when determining if your GPA is where it should be.
First, understand what type of GPA your school is providing you with. Most high schools use weighted GPAs. These take into account the level of difficulty for the classes you’ve taken. For instance, more value is placed on AP or honors level classes. So this helps students earn a 4.5 GPA or even a 5.0. Weighted GPAs
give credit to students who have taken on more challenges than the status quo classes. But unweighted GPAs measure all classes equally regardless of difficulty level. In this case, the highest GPA available is 4.0.
Note that the average GPAs listed above are for unweighted GPAs. So if you are using a weighted GPA at your high school, make sure you convert it. That will help you to know where you really stand with admissions requirements. Next, understand what your goals are and the requirements for reaching those goals. For instance, if you have your heart set on an Ivy League program, a strong GPA alone won’t be enough. Make sure you’re also including higher-level courses in your schedule. This will show the schools you’re applying to that you’re willing to challenge yourself.
If admission rates are low, especially below 20%. That’s an indicator that you’ll need to take on more challenging classes to be a competitive candidate. Take time to delve into the admissions requirements for the colleges you’re aiming for. What are their average GPAs for admitted students? What other requirements do they have for applications to be accepted?
Finally, once you have an understanding of where your GPA currently stands and where it needs to be. Then you should create an action plan.

How to Create a GPA Action Plan

If your GPA is already where it needs to be, that’s great! But keep in mind that now is not the time to let up on all the hard work you’ve already put in. Instead, stay the course and continue to maintain focus on your classes. Make sure to continue to make time specifically for studying. Also, take advantage of any extra credit opportunities that come up. And stay on schedule with your coursework as falling behind is one of the easiest ways for your GPA to begin to slip.
If your GPA isn’t quite where it needs to be. It’s time to double down and start putting in the work you need to get it there or as close as possible. If you’ve found that your GPA has begun to slip- find out why. If you’re doing too many challenging courses, try changing some of those courses. Find a good balance between challenging courses and less challenging courses. That will help you to manage the workload better.
If your course load already feels balanced. Then it may be time to focus on creating stronger study habits. This means setting aside time specifically dedicated to studying and eliminating any distractions.
Make sure to not only show up to class but to also take part in the lessons. This means contributing to class discussions and answering questions from teachers. Also, taking strong notes throughout each class should become your habit.

And finally, ask for help. Never underestimate the help a teacher or tutor can provide to get you to where you need to be.

GPA Calculator

Our GPA Calculator provides a seamless way for students to track their grade performance for college or university. Our tools make understanding and calculating grade point averages fast and simple. Students need to understand the importance of calculating and converting GPAS. Hence we provide helpful guides that can also help students to raise their GPA. Gain access to our free suite of tools at

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CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.