Your results, progress, and accomplishments are all tallied up into your grade point average when you finish high school. There’s a scale to this rating, but if you are one of the talented and academically-inclined students to graduate with a 3.8 GPA, you have a promising life ahead of you.
But how good is a 3.8 GPA? Can you get into the big leagues with that score? How does it factor into college admissions? Here in this article, we will answer these questions and more.
What Does a 3.8 GPA Mean?
In high school and college, a student’s grade point average measures how well they’ve done in their classes. GPAs are graded on a four-point scale, with a 1.0 GPA being the lowest a student can get and a 4.0 GPA being the highest a student can get (however, this does not include weighted GPAs, which is a subject we will get into later). The greater your grade, the greater your GPA. High school students graduate as at least a salutatorian with that grade.
Colleges consider a student’s high school GPA when they apply for them, and they consider a student’s college GPA when they decide whether or not they will graduate. We will largely talk about high school GPA and what it means for college admission.
So, what does a 3.8 GPA mean? Having a 3.8 GPA means that in the vast majority of a student’s classes, they passed with a grade of A or higher, with only a small percentage of overall classes ending with a B at least. The lower the grade of a class, the lower the GPA. If a student passes five classes with As and five classes with Bs, then they would have a GPA of 3.5. Having a GPA of 3.8 means having many more classes with As than they have Bs and no classes with any less.
Is it common to have a 3.8 GPA? And is that GPA good, or are there situations where it can be bad?
How Common is a 3.8 GPA? Is it Good or Bad?
A 3.8 GPA is very good for a student. It is a difficult score to maintain but is absolutely worth having. As we’ve said, an unweighted GPA goes between 1 and 4, so having a 3.8 GPA means you are only two decimal points away from having a perfect GPA.
Are 3.8 GPAs common? Generally, this depends on the high school and college. Many colleges allow a student to graduate with a GPA around 3.0. There is also less incentive for the average high school student to achieve a high GPA, especially if they do not plan on attending college. Finally, because of the lower standards of most high schools, students would apply to colleges that accept lower GPAs first. A 3.8 GPA is only common among students who excel in their grades and apply to higher-end colleges.
If you earn a GPA of 3.8, you are in the upper echelon of students. Such a position is rare, and will lead to a larger number of opportunities than if you had a lower GPA.
A 3.8 GPA is by no means a problem. Students with such a GPA will achieve great things in their college applications. But how good is a 3.8 GPA for college admissions?
Is a 3.8 GPA Good for College Admissions?
To get right to the point, yes, a 3.8 GP is good for college admissions. For most high schools, and under an unweighted judgment, a 3.8 GPA is nearly perfect. As such, when applying for a college, you wouldn’t have to worry about getting rejected—at least, not over your GPA.
Competition is a big component of whether you can get into a college. There are hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of students who may be applying to the same college as you are. On top of sometimes restricting admissions, a college can only support so many students at once. If you get in, then there is a student or students who failed to get in themselves. The inverse is also true; if you fail to get an acceptance letter, it is likely that it went to another student who met the school’s qualifications.
And how do colleges decide which students get in order not? It’s simple: they compare and contrast a student’s academic accomplishments with each other. They use many metrics, including a student’s high school transcripts, classes they took and completed, SAT or ACT scores, and GPA. Having a high GPA not only means that you have achieved academic excellence as a high school student—which a college is looking for in an applicant—but this high GPA may set you apart from other students who apply to the same college. Some colleges even automatically admit students with a GPA well over the college’s required or suggested average.
A 3.8 GPA is nearly perfect at the higher end of the GPA scale, with only a few classes in the B or C grade range. Colleges are interested in a GPA like that. But what about the best of the best? What about Ivy League colleges? Is a 3.8 GPA enough to get you into Ivy League?
Can You Get to an Ivy League with a 3.8 GPA?
A 3.8 GPA is great for many colleges, but the more prestigious and difficult a college is to get into, the more that starts to stop being impressive. The Ivy League universities—Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University—are the most prestigious and elite colleges in the United States. They are infamous for how much it takes to even have your application considered by the colleges, let alone be accepted. Where most colleges would be utterly satisfied by a student with a 3.8 GPA, Ivy League asks for a lot more in its applicants.
Can you get to an Ivy League college with a 3.8 GPA? It is not impossible, just unlikely. The first issue is that because of Ivy League’s reputation, the kind of students who try to apply to any of the eight colleges have a much higher GPA. Getting into Harvard, for example, requires a GPA between 3.9 and 4.0. In other words, top of the class, and slightly out of the range of a student with a 3.8 GPA.
A 3.8 GPA isn’t the highest a student can achieve, and that means you are at a large disadvantage compared to other applicants, who may achieve more, like a 4.0 GPA or even a 5.0 GPA, depending on what school they attended.
Again, it is not impossible to get into an Ivy League college. Still, if a 3.8 GPA is all you have, then you would need to bring a lot more to your application to get in, such as a very high SAT or ACT score, an impressive number of recommendations from other teachers and faculty, higher-level classes like Honors or Advanced Placement, and a rap sheet of extracurricular activities.
In summary, colleges start demanding more from their applicants when they get to the level of Ivy League.
If getting into an Ivy League college with a 3.8 GPA is difficult, what kind of colleges can you get into which such a grade point average?
What Colleges Can You Get Into with a 3.8 GPA?
Well, what colleges can’t you get into with a 3.8 GPA? As we’ve stated, the vast majority of colleges accept GPAs on a 4.0 scale, meaning that having a 3.8 GPA is incredibly close to having a perfect performance record to most colleges. The only exceptions are colleges that take GPAs on a weighted scale, which takes into account Honors or Advanced Placement classes. These courses are higher level courses taken by only the best students in the school; acing these classes on top of their regular classes can have a student net a 5.0 GPA, guaranteeing you an audience with practically any college.
With a 3.8 GPA, you can get into any college or university that isn’t at the very top of their state, which amounts to a whole lot of options. Such universities include:
- Columbia University in New York City, New York,
- The University of Texas in Austin,
- Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts,
- Purdue University in West Layfette, Indiana,
- And the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.
All of them have an average GPA of 3.8 or lower, according to Cappex.
GPAs are important because they alleviate much of the stress and decision-making in choosing a college. A 3.8 GPA is nearly perfect as far as most colleges are concerned.
We say all of this, but it is important to note that a GPA is far from a single deciding factor in college. Having a high GPA will help immensely, but other factors, including SAT and ACT scores, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities, may boost the appeal of your admission even if you have a low GPA. It’s just that having a high GPA will take a lot of the guesswork out of your chances of getting into your dream college.
Wrapping Things Up: How Good is a 3.8 GPA in College?
How good is a 3.8 GPA for college? Very good. Most colleges in the United States will happily accept a student with a 3.8 GPA. Only the most elite universities would not be impressed by such a score, but it will get their attention even then. If you have a 3.8 GPA, then you will have no problem applying for colleges. And if you don’t have it, you better start working up for it!