Preparing for College

How Will Colleges Compute Voke School GPA?

Question: You probably get questions about the importance of GPA's a lot but, the difference with me is that I go to a regional vocational. My school consists of Math, History, English, Science, Gym, a shop/trade, and a related class for that shop/trade. The articles I've read about GPA calculation have stated that core academics and foreign languages were calculated. However, my school does not have foreign language class incorporated into its curriculum. The only foreign language class that can be taken is not a full language course but, can be taken after school to get a jump start for college language classes. So basically what I want to know is, how the calculation of GPA's apply to vocational high schools? Are trade/shop credits incorporated into my GPA or are only academics incorporated?

Most high schools--including vocational schools--calculate their own students' GPA's. So if you get graded in your shop and in the related class, then those grades would, presumably, be part of your GPA, along with your grades in your academic subjects.

Once you apply to college, the admission officials will receive your school transcript, and they may decide to recalculate your GPA based on your academic subjects only, especially if your current shop is not relevant to the program or major you are likely to pursue in college.

Some admission officials, on the other hand, will use whatever GPA is submitted by your high school (assuming there is one), even if your shop classes are included. If your high school does not compute a GPA, some college folks may simply look at the classes you’ve taken and the grades you’ve earned in each and then try to determine how you fit in among their other applicants. (In other words, they might not need a GPA for you at all.)

The process will vary from college to college. However, wherever you apply, admission officials are accustomed to comparing “apples with oranges.” That is, they know that the way that a GPA is computed at one school can be very different from how it’s done at another. They also know that there is a vast difference among high schools in general. At some schools, A’s are hard to earn while, at others, just showing up for class is almost a guaranteed B+. So one of the jobs of admission officers is to evaluate candidates in the context of their own high school and then to try to figure out how to best compare them with applicants from elsewhere. And it’s certainly not an exact science!

You may, however, find that you lack of foreign language will be a liability. Some colleges will waive their language requirement for you because your school doesn’t offer language classes (except for the after-school class which, from your description, doesn’t sound like it really fulfills a typical language requirement). But some will not. So before you forge ahead with applications, be sure to ask an admission official if your lack of foreign language will be a deal-breaker.

(posted 4/10/2011)