Best Schools to Get into with a 3.6 GPA

Is a 3.6 a good GPA in high school?

Grades are an important factor in the admissions process because they offer colleges insight into your academic capabilities and potential. However, because academic standards can vary significantly from school to school, GPA isn’t an objective measure. Moreover, admissions committees look at many different components of your profile when evaluating your candidacy.

 

Equivalent to a low A-, a 3.6-grade point average is certainly a competitive number. However, many students who apply to the most selective schools have even higher GPAs on a 4.0 scale, so it’s important to understand your chances of admission to top colleges.

Which factors impact college acceptance?

College admissions decisions depend on numerous factors, including the rigor of your course curriculum (whether you’re taking the most challenging courses, including honors and AP classes and exams, that your high school offers), your SAT or ACT scores, extracurriculars, essays, and other information.

 

Many elite colleges, with the exception of some large public universities, perform a holistic review of candidates. This means that they go beyond the empirical data, like your GPA and test scores, to factor in personal qualities such as intellectual curiosity and leadership, as evidenced in other components of your application including your essays and interview.

 

That’s not to say your GPA doesn’t matter; in fact, it’s one of the most important indicators of your academic performance. Still, you should make sure your application adequately reflects your achievements across multiple areas, such as extracurriculars, in addition to a strong GPA.

Why does GPA matter?

Your GPA is an indicator of your academic performance and can show admissions committees whether you’re up to the task of taking on a rigorous college curriculum. While your performance in high school won’t necessarily reflect your performance in college, it’s important information for admissions committees to consider, since they can’t accept everyone who applies.

 

You should bear in mind that colleges know that no two high schools measure performance identically, and a 3.6 at one school could be equivalent to a 4.0 at another. It’s more important to admissions committees that you’re taking the most challenging curriculum available to you and are performing well against your peers. That’s why they also look at measures such as class rank and test scores, among other indicators like extracurriculars.

Top colleges with an average freshman GPA of 3.6

So, which colleges admit students with a GPA of 3.6? Many top-tier institutions do, but these are among the best in which the incoming freshman class had an average 3.6 GPA in high school.

 

School name Type State Region
American University Private District of Columbia Mid East
Boston University Private Massachusetts New England
Clarkson University Private New York Mid East
Drexel University Private Pennsylvania Mid East
Fordham University Private New York Mid East
New Jersey Institute of Technology Public New Jersey Mid East
New York University Private New York Mid East
Oberlin College Private Ohio Great Lakes
Pepperdine University Private California Far West
Southern Methodist University Private Texas Southwest
Temple University Public Pennsylvania Mid East
University at Buffalo Public New York Mid East
University of Iowa Public Iowa Plains
University of Oregon Public Oregon Far West
University of San Francisco Private California Far West

 

Steps to increase your GPA

Looking to improve your chances of gaining admission into a competitive college or university? Raising your GPA can be one of your best bets. Here are some steps to try:

 

1. Account for weighting.

A weighted GPA takes into account the rigor of your curriculum, adding additional points for honors, AP, and IB courses. An unweighted GPA strictly reflects your grades, not how challenging your courses are. It’s important to recognize that many colleges will unweight GPAs when recalculating them according to their formula. Still, admissions counselors appreciate when students challenge themselves with a demanding course load and will factor this into admissions decisions.

 

2. Play to your strengths.

If you’re struggling in a challenging course or courses outside of your specialization, consider focusing on taking honors and APs in your better subjects rather than trying to overdo it in weaker ones. For instance, if you’re strong in the humanities but weaker in math, take APs in English and history, rather than calculus. That way, you’ll still be showing colleges that you challenge yourself without having to sacrifice your GPA for a course outside of your area of interest and expertise.

 

3. Engage a tutor or mentor.

A tutor or mentor can help you find ways to tackle weak areas and improve your approach to assignments and tests. Tutors could be peers who have recently completed a course, or paid professionals. Whether it’s a friend or a teacher, a tutor can help break down concepts in ways that make the most sense to you in a one-on-one setting.

 

Improving your GPA can be tough, but not impossible. Check out Improve Your High School GPA With These 5 Strategies for more tips on how to strengthen your academic profile.

What if you don’t have time to increase GPA?

If you’re an upperclassman who simply doesn’t have the time to improve your GPA, it’s not the end of the world. Here are some alternative strategies for strengthening your profile to consider.

 

1. Don’t panic.

A 3.6 GPA is nothing to frown at. As noted above, there are plenty of excellent colleges and universities whose incoming freshman class achieved an average GPA of 3.6. It’s also not out of the question that you could be accepted to an Ivy or another top-tier college with this GPA.

 

It’s important to remember that many highly successful professionals peak well after high school. While you should always strive to do your best, your performance in high school won’t dictate the rest of your life. Whether you end up at your first-, second-, or third-choice college, it’s ultimately up to you to make the most of your college experience by taking advantage of academic and extracurricular opportunities, actively searching for internships, using your school’s resources, and more.

 

2. Retake standardized tests.

Your GPA is not the only component of your academic profile that colleges will consider. Standardized test scores are also very important, and they can often be easier to improve than your GPA. After all, your GPA accounts for several years of courses. When it comes to evaluating standardized test scores, many colleges will only look at your highest SAT or ACT scores, so taking the test more than once could work in your favor.

 

Be sure to work on strategies to improve your scores in between sittings, because your score won’t go up on its own; you need to be making active changes to improve it.

 

3. Concentrate on your extracurriculars.

Even if you’re not an academic superstar, chances are you have talents in other areas. Focus on building up your extracurricular profile to highlight these strengths, demonstrating leadership and initiative in school clubs and outside activities. For instance, perhaps you’re an actor and take on leadership roles in your school’s drama club, and seek out performance opportunities or internships at a local theater. Wherever your talents lie, show colleges that you excel outside of the classroom.

 

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.