Colleges You Can Get Into With a 3.0 GPA

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If you’re applying to colleges, you probably know that most admissions committees will be analyzing your high school transcript as part of the selection process. And if your grades aren’t superb, you might be wondering if you’ve got a shot at getting into your dream school, or any schools at all. Luckily, there are plenty of colleges out there that don’t expect a near perfect transcript. If you have a GPA that doesn’t approach 4.0 and you’re looking for some solid college choices, this series is for you. In today’s post, we list great options for students with a 3.0 GPA—keep reading to learn more.

Why Does GPA Matter?

When you apply to college, your GPA will be one of the most important factors weighed by the admissions committee. This is because they want to accept students capable of succeeding in college level courses. Accepting students with lower GPAs can be a gamble, because if the student is not able to keep up with his or her work in college, they might drop out. This is a lose-lose for both parties, as the student clearly misses out on a college degree and the school’s retention and graduation rates suffer.


GPAs are the simplest and most trustworthy method for establishing your academic proficiency. They are a data point that shows your average performance over time, lending colleges important insight into your abilities in the classroom. While they aren’t the only factor used by colleges to determine your learning potential, they are one of the most common and most valued data points in college admissions.

Is 3.0 a Good GPA?

To really talk about GPAs, first we need to differentiate between weighted and unweighted GPAs. An unweighted GPA is fairly easy to calculate. Here is a simple chart for determine the numerical value of a letter grade on an unweighted scale:


Letter Grade Unweighted GPA
A 4.0
A- 3.67
B+ 3.33
B 3.0
B- 2.67
C+ 2.33
C 2.0
C- 1.67
D+ 1.33
D 1.0
F 0.0

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To determine your unweighted GPA, you would simply add up all the numerical equivalents of each letter grade you’ve earned, and find the average. As you can see, a 3.0 unweighted GPA is an average grade of B.


Weighted GPAs are a little more complicated. These essentially award more challenging classes with higher numerical equivalents. Honors and AP classes then become worth more than standard college prep classes. In general, honors classes are worth 0.5 more than a college prep class, and AP or IB classes are worth 1.0 more. This means that a 3.0 weighted GPA would be a B average in college prep classes, a B-/C+ average in honors classes, or a C average in AP or IB classes.


As far as college admissions go, a 3.0 GPA isn’t particularly great, but it’s certainly not the end of the world. What do we mean by this? Well, a 3.0 will definitely limit your college options. Highly selective schools like the Ivy Leagues or similar look for a very high level of academic proficiency, and your GPA is the prime opportunity for establishing this. Without a high GPA, these colleges will likely doubt your ability to keep up with the college level coursework they require.


That being said, there are other ways to establish your academic skills. If you score well on standardized tests, show an upward grade trend over the years, and excel in areas of specialty, you might still have a shot even at some of the most selective colleges. For example, in 2017 Harvard reported that while over 92% of its admitted class had GPAs above 3.75, 0.41% of admitted students had GPAs between 3.0 and 3.24. At Princeton, 1.66% of admitted students had GPAs between 3.0 and 3.24, and 0.30% even had GPAs between 2.5 and 2.99. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your chances are great, but it does at least mean that you’ve got a shot at making up for a weaker GPA if you can really impress in other areas.


That being said, there are many school at which a GPA of 3.0 is average, giving you a great shot of getting in if you can do well in other areas. To learn which schools report an average GPA of 3.0, check our list below.

Colleges With an Average GPA of 3.0

College Type State Region
Alfred University Private NY Mid East
Castleton University Public VT New England
Florida SouthWestern State College Public FL Southeast
Indiana University-Northwest Public IN Great Lakes
Keene State College Public NH New England
Kent State University at Salem Public OH Great Lakes
Kent State University at Tuscarawas Public OH Great Lakes
Kentucky State University Public KY Southeast
Lewis-Clark State College Public ID Rocky Mountains
Lynn University Private FL Southeast
New Mexico Highlands University Public NM Southwest
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology Public OK Southwest
Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Brandywine Public PA Mid East
Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Schuylkill Public PA Mid East
Plymouth State University Public NH New England
Prairie View A & M University Public TX Southwest
Tiffin University Private OH Great Lakes
University of Maine at Fort Kent Public ME New England
University of Maine at Presque Isle Public ME New England
University of South Dakota Public SD Plains

Steps to Increase Your GPA

Whether you’re setting your sights on the above schools or those with higher GPA standards, you can increase your chances of getting in by raising your GPA. Here are our top tips for getting that boost your GPA needs:


  1. Play Your Strengths. If you know which subject areas you consistently excel in, register for some more challenging classes in these fields. For a student who always does well in foreign languages, taking AP French could be just the ticket to bumping up that weighted GPA.
  2. Recognize Weaker Subject Areas. While we never recommend taking a easier class just to get “the easy A,” we also know that it’s important to be realistic. If you’ve struggled with math classes throughout high school, maybe senior year isn’t the time to take Calculus. Check out trigonometry or pre-calc instead for a shot at a better grade.
  3. Increase Your Course Load. If you’ve got just a semester or two left to raise your GPA, you might consider taking an extra class or two, especially ones you know you can do well in. We only recommend this if the increased workload won’t overload you, but often students find that they can drop a study hall in favor of an elective in order to give that average the final boost it needs.


At Collegevine, we are uniquely prepared to offer insight into the appropriate classes and course track to maximize your GPA. We base our recommendations on your goals for the future and how those align with the 10,000+ points of admissions data that we have collected from our students to recommend which courses to take. Check out our Early Advising Program to learn more.


For more help boosting your GPA or selecting the best course load for your college ambitions as during the final stretch of 11th or 12th grade, consider the benefits of the CollegeVine Applications program, which exists to help you optimize your application, ensuring that you are supported through every step of this process. You can trust us to help you gain the tools you’ll need to attend your dream school.

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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.