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GPA May Be a Better Predictor of College Success

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

When high school freshmen and sophomores ask about college planning, I typically wrap up the conversation with, “Just get As and Bs in the most rigorous courses you can!”  UChicago Consortium researchers recently released an interesting study, which analyzes the better indicator of college success – GPA or standardized test scores?  While the statement below is not necessarily groundbreaking, it is interesting.

High-school GPAs might be stronger indicators of college readiness because they measure a wider variety of skills—including effort over an entire semester in many different types of classes, and demonstration of academic skills through multiple formats. On the other hand, standardized tests measure a smaller set of skills, and students can prepare for these tests in narrow ways that may not translate into better preparation to succeed in college.

So how can we help students develop this wider variety of skills vs. simply chanting “Get As and Bs?”  Here is a simple process perhaps for internal motivation.

  1. Ask your student which teachers he/she respects the most and why.

  2. Determine their current grade in that class.

  3. Provide him/her this tool to calculate their GPA based on current class grades.

  4. Ask the student what it would take to move their grade one level in that one class?  Meeting with their teacher, pulling that assignment out of their bookbag and turning it in?  If they like the teacher, it isn’t too hard to get them to come up with a few ideas.

  5. Re-calculate the GPA with the improved grade.

  6. Now ask your student how that would look if you applied the methodology to every teacher, even the ones he/she didn’t necessarily connect with.

As my husband’s great Uncle Morgan Wootten used to say to his basketball players, “Inch by inch life’s a cinch, yard by yard it’s really hard!”

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