Understanding GPA

Why is it important? Because it is key to:

  • Your status as a student in "good standing"
  • Continued enrollment in your major
  • Future financial aid, which requires "satisfactory academic progress"
  • Scholarship eligibility
  • Future employment opportunities
  • Eligibility for College athletic teams
  • Acceptance to university graduate programs

How your GPA is calculated:

  1. Identify the grade value for each completed course based on the grade you received: A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1.
  2. Calculate the grade points you earned for each completed course by multiplying the grade value by the course's credit value. Example: If you earned a B in a 3-credit course, your earned grade points for that course would be 9.
  3. Calculate your total grade points achieved by adding together the individual grade points.
  4. Calculate your GPA by dividing your total grade points achieved by the total credits attempted.
     
Course Letter
Grade Earned
Course
Credit Value
Grade Value X
Credit Value
Grade Points
Achieved
ENL 111 B 3 3 X 3 9
SOC 111 B 3 3 X 3 9
BIO 115 B 4 3 X 4 12
FIT 142 A 1 4 X 1 4
CSC 108 C 1 2 X 1 2
Total Credits attempted 12   Total 36
Calculated GPA = 36 12 = 3.0 GPA

As shown above, all classes are not created equal in terms of GPA weight. The number of A's, B's, and C's you earn do not, by themselves, reflect your academic standing.

You can make this system work to your benefit if you:

  • Make 4- and 5-credit classes a priority.
  • Budget your time effectively.
  • Don't allow one difficult class to affect the time you allocate to other classes.
  • Set specific goals each semester of the grades you want to earn in each class.

Other GPA facts you should know:

  • A course for which you receive a W (withdrawn) is not included in the "total credits attempted" part of the GPA calculation. For this reason, it's better to withdraw than to fail a course.
  • The same is true for credits transferred from another college (demarked on your transcript with "EXTRANS"). The grades you earn at other institutions are not used to calculate your Penn College GPA.
  • A repeated course (grade of R) is only counted once toward your "total credits attempted," and the higher grade is used to calculate "grade points earned." Although the R grade will carry no value in your graduation GPA moving forward, semester grade point averages are permanent and are not recalculated.
  • Your GPA becomes harder to change with time, because the more credits you have completed, the less impact grade points have when GPA is calculated.

Strategies to salvage a poor GPA:

  • Reduce your credit load to give you more time to study and earn higher grades.
  • Take advantage of the many academic resources offered by the College.
  • Repeat failed classes right away. The subject matter will be fresh in your mind and the higher grade will be used to calculate your GPA. 

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