By Emily Ludeman
Student Advisor, APU School of STEM
The grade point average (GPA) is a quantitative measure of academic success, but it is not a full representation of your academic career. For current students, the GPA is a snapshot that employers, professors, advisors and peers look to as a benchmark of your academic career. Students already established in their careers can use their GPA as an effective way to gain recognition among peers and display subject matter expertise.
The GPA is an essential component of active college life because it primarily affects students’ standing in their class. The GPA also factors in course progression, funding and employment or internship opportunities. The GPA reflects students’ proficiency, so it is important to maintain high standards in all classes. Besides, earning As and Bs is a great feeling.
How Is the GPA Calculated?
The GPA is based on a four-point scale with each letter grade having a quality point. An A grade equals 4.0, an A- equals 3.67; a B+ equals 3.33, a B equals 3.0. The GPA grading system goes down to an F with a 0.0 value. The APUS student handbook includes a chart for grades, GPA values and how the system fits within the 100 percent scale. All accumulated grades are divided by the number of course credits to create your grade average on the 4.0 scale.
Being mindful of your GPA can be a helpful motivator. A student’s GPA is found within the APU ecampus at the top of the academic plan page. There is also a GPA calculator link within the “Academic Plan & Forms” menu on which to enter potential grades. For example, if the student’s goal is to get a 3.0 but at present it is a 2.3 GPA, the calculator can be used to find out exactly what grades are needed to reach the desired GPA.
Why Is a High GPA Important?
The GPA determines your academic standing. Undergraduate students must maintain a 2.0 or higher GPA to be in good standing. At the graduate level, a minimum GPA of 3.0 is required to be in good standing. There are significant consequences for students who fall below the minimum required GPA.
An undergraduate GPA below 2.0 or a graduate GPA below 3.0 will trigger a status of academic risk or probation. Probationary status means the pressure is on; there are only a certain number of attempts allowed to raise the GPA. Failure to get back in good standing could require the student to withdraw from the university.
Any student on academic risk or probation should work with available university resources to plan for GPA improvement. Students, faculty and staff are all here for the same goal, academic success and degree completion. To put it simply, a good GPA is necessary to complete a degree or certificate.
What Are the Benefits of a High GPA?
There is a direct correlation between a student’s GPA and opportunities for success. The Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society connects high-performing students and faculty for potential career success after graduation; membership requires a 3.5 GPA or higher. A high GPA grants students access to a strong network of peers, scholars, and mentors who can help in the next phase development within a career field.
Another example is the APU quarterly lists which highlight students who have made excellent progress and maintained high GPAs. The President’s Honor List includes students who have completed 15 semester hours with a 4.0 GPA; the Dean’s Honor List is for students with a 3.75 GPA with 15 semester hours that quarter.
A 3.75 or higher GPA at APU means graduating with honors which will be noted on the student’s diploma and official transcript. Undergraduate students with a 3.93 GPA or higher qualify for Latin Honor Designations, national student honor organizations, and graduation with honors. In addition, the accolades that come with a high GPA open doors to an amazing career.
Earning excellent grades early on is helpful in securing an overall high GPA and good academic standing. This sets the tone for success and might even provide a little grade wiggle room in the more challenging courses. However, maintaining a good GPA is easier said than done. Students, faculty and staff are all here for the same goal: student academic success and degree completion.
For career guidance from the experts at American Public University, check out our sister blog OnlineCareerTips.com.