There are a lot of different terms that are thrown around when you enter college and many of those terms come in the form of acronyms. From entrance exams like the ACT or the SAT, to degrees like a BA or BS, all those letters can get confusing. One acronym that has followed you from high school, however, is your GPA, or grade point average.
A grade point average is a way to universally measure student performance on the same scale. Usually on a scale of 0 to 4.0, with 4.0 being the highest, each grade you receive is assigned points and averaged out. (It is possible to receive higher than a 4.0 if you complete extra credit in addition to your perfect grades.) Typically, an A is worth four points, a B is worth three points, a C is worth 2 points and a D is worth one point. For instance, if you take five classes, and earn three A’s and two B’s, your total points would be 18 for that semester. Then you would divide your 18 points by the five classes you took for a grade point average of 3.6.
Your GPA is what is considered when you are applying for financial aid and decides whether or not you can move to the next class level. Many students have found themselves kicked out of school or put on academic probation for letting their GPA fall below a certain level.
The closer your grade point average is to 4.0, the better off you are. Typically those with high grade point averages can be more competitive for top jobs, enter top graduate schools, compete for better internships and even make more money when hired for a job. Those that have the highest GPAs are bestowed top honors upon graduation and are classified as summa cum laude, which means ‘with highest honors’ in Latin. That phrase is rewarded to those that graduate at the top of their class. The next level is magna cum laude, which means ‘with great honor’. Some schools require more than just a high GPA to receive these honors and the GPA associated with each honor level is something that is determined by each school.
Grades aren’t everything, but they are the only way to rate student performance. Your GPA is the way for others to gauge your understanding of the material and your work ethic, so making sure you keep your GPA as high as you can is crucial for your college career, and the future.