International Student Blog

How Much Does GPA Matter for International Students

How Much Does GPA Matter for International Students

Each year, thousands of international students apply to top United States universities in order to study abroad in the US. The application process can be extensive and complex for international students. There are many pieces to each application package. The pieces vary from items that show a student’s academic success and achievements quantitatively, such as tests scores or GPA, and there are pieces that show the qualitative side of a student, such as letters of recommendation or a personal statement. No matter what school you are applying to, or what country you are coming from, almost every application will ask for your grade point average.

The Role GPA Plays 

GPA essentially shows an admissions committee how well you have performed academically in your prior program. As a result, GPA is typically used as a benchmark to evaluate your potential academic success at the program you are applying to. Most of the time, admission committees will evaluate international student GPA compared to their transcripts in order to see how an international student performed in that program.

Typically, though, admission committees choose to look at and evaluate the application package as a whole instead of making an admission decision based on one item. For the most part, you will not be denied admission to a school or program based solely on your GPA. However, there are some universities and programs where GPA is extremely important. If you do not have a top GPA, those schools may not even evaluate the rest of your application package. We suggest researching your university and program admissions before applying in order to get an idea of how they evaluate GPA.

If GPA Doesn’t Matter, Then What Does?

Every part of the application package and admission process matters and is important. However, GPA is usually not the determining factor in admissions. If you have a low GPA, or your GPA would be considered low compared to the rest of the applicant pool, that does not mean that you cannot be admitted to the university or program. The rest of your application can make up for it.

For example, if your GPA is low, take time in your personal statement to explain why it is low. However, make sure not to sound whiny or make excuses. Own up to it and explain why it happened and how you plan on correcting it for the program you are applying to.

Another item that many admissions committees may look to instead of GPA is experience. For example, if you are applying to a business or engineering program, the admissions committee wants to see an interest in that field and they want to know what your goals may be. Obviously, a GPA cannot convey to the admission committee what your goals are. It can show prior academic success, but at the end of the day, it is simply a number.

Also, it is important to remember that the members of admission committees are experts in what they do. They have been in the field for an extremely long time and know how to properly evaluate application packages and properly grant admission. They know how to analyze transcripts and know how to weigh GPA against all the other portions of an application package. At the end of the day, GPA is a key part to the application package, but it typically will not make or break an application on its face. Each part of the application gets evaluated and chances are that you will not be denied admission to a top university or program based on your GPA alone.

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John Romanucci

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