We hear about it all the time. It effects whether we get into college, whether we stay in college, and whether we graduate or not. Something that has so much power over our college career is certainly worth taking some time to understand. How to calculate it, what affects it, and what is a good GPA versus a bad GPA? Some policies may be different from institution to institution, but here are some general facts worth knowing.

How to calculate a GPA.

There are great tools on the internet to help calculate your GPA. One is, http://gpacalculator.net/college-gpa-calculator/. This site allows you to enter in each letter grade and credit value for each class, then calculates the GPA for you. It will give the result in a color-coded system to let you know whether your GPA is good, fair, or in trouble.

Most colleges also give you the ability to calculate your GPA on your Degree Audit (or Degree Works). There also may be a tab that allows you to calculate how many A’s and B’s you will need to get to graduate with a 2.0 GPA. Talk with your advisor about your options.

There is also always the possibility of doing the math and calculating it for yourself. Each letter grade is given a numerical value; A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0. Generally, grades of pass, no-pass, incomplete, and withdraw do not count toward the GPA. Always check with your institution’s Academic Regulations to confirm what is counted.

  1. To get the Quality points, multiply the point value for the grade by the credit of the course. For example, if a course is worth three credits and the grade received is an A, then it is 4 x 3 = 12 points. Add all points together for your total Quality points.
  2. To find GPA Hours, add the credits together for only the letter-graded courses.
  3. Lastly, divide the Quality Points by the GPA Hours. Round the figure to the nearest second decimal place.

Quality Points

______________ = Grade Point Average

GPA Hours

Semester GPA versus Overall GPA

Each semester receives its own GPA which then contributes to your overall GPA. Your overall GPA is a summation of all semesters. In a university generally, you need to maintain a 2.0 semester and overall GPA. If you receive below a 2.0 during the semester you may go on probation. A second semester with a GPA below 2.0 and an overall GPA below 2.0 may result in a disqualification. Keeping an eye on your GPA throughout the semester will help avoid any trouble.

Transfer GPA versus Institutional GPA

When transferring credits from a community college to a university, your GPA will affect your transfer. Your GPA at your community college will affect your ability to get accepted at the university. However, depending on the university, once you get accepted you start with a GPA of 0.0 (this is your Institutional GPA). The institution will only calculate your GPA based off classes you have taken in their university. To determine academic standing, they will use your Institutional GPA. To be on good academic standing your Institutional GPA will need to be a 2.0.

Your GPA after graduating.

Graduating with a good GPA will give you step above the rest when in the candidate pool for a job. Having the degree that qualifies you for the job is a must, but most times it is the extra qualities that show how you work above and beyond the minimal duties, that will get you the job over another person. If it is hard to imagine this because you are only focusing on getting your degree and will take any job afterwards, remind yourself if you are going to invest the effort into getting a degree, why not invest a little more to receive as much benefit as possible.

Contributed by Leigha Russell, Coach at Northwest College Support