Your high school Grade Point Average (GPA) is one of the most important numbers in your life. Sure, your teachers use it to determine your aptitude and academic success, but that’s only the half of it. In high school you typically receive 8 GPAs, or one for each semester. They have the power to determine the colleges you’re admitted to, as well as what scholarships you’re eligible to earn, which internships you qualify for, what academic based opportunities are available to you (like discounts & special promotions from companies who honor students that meet certain GPAs), what jobs will hire you and, in some cases, what income level you can reach. Yeah—it’s that serious.
So, what can you do to have the best GPA? Maintaining a good one largely depends on how committed you are to achieving academic success and if you’re willing to put in the work. To help you stay focused, here are four things you can do to keep your GPA in good shape:
You can’t work on improving or maintaining your grades if you have no idea where you currently stand. Schedule monthly check-ins with each of your teachers to see where your grades are and if they’ve dropped or improved over the last month. If your grades have improved, you know you’re on the right track. Just continue doing what you’re doing! If they’ve dropped, you can figure out why and make adjustments over the next month to bring them back up. These check-ins don’t have to be super extensive or time consuming. A quick 5-10-minute one-on-one conversation with your teacher before or after class will do just fine!
Be Honest If You’re Struggling
It’s okay if you don’t get something in class. It’s not okay to avoid asking for help if you need it. If you’re struggling in a class or making poor grades on a specific subject, meet with your teacher one-on-one and figure out the problem. It could be as simple as just needing extra tutoring and review. On the other hand, your teacher may determine that a schedule change needs to be made in order for you to get the best possible outcome for that subject matter. The point is, you won’t know how to fix what’s wrong if you don’t speak up.
If there are opportunities for you to get ahead in any given class, take them. This could mean asking for extra credit, reading a few chapters ahead, completing homework early, or even starting class projects well before you need to. Anytime you learn new material or prepare for a lesson ahead of time, you’re giving yourself more opportunity to review key information, identify what you don’t understand and prepare specific questions to ask during class. In any case, being proactive at school is a win for your GPA because it allows you to maximize your in-class time and put your focus where you need it most.
Be Open to Taking on More
Your core classes aren’t the only ones that contribute to your GPA, electives do too. Most students don’t think to try this because it seems counterintuitive but taking on extra electives can help your GPA. If you have a free period or two, consider taking some fun electives that you know will be easy for you to pass with flying colors. This is a strategy to be used with carefulness, however. If you’re applying for college, make sure you’re choosing electives that are fun, but can also help your college admissions goals. For example, if you want to major in Photography in college, take a photo journalism or yearbook elective. If you want to major in Business, try taking DACA.
On the flip side, more can also mean taking on an Advanced Placement (AP) class or two. AP classes in most schools are weighted more heavily because they’re designed to reflect college level course work. This means, getting good grades in an AP class can significantly increase your overall GPA. In addition, AP classes on your transcript look very good to college admissions boards and can definitely help improve your chances of acceptance. Again, think carefully if this is the route you decide to take. While there are some AP classes that are deemed “easier” than others, taking any AP class will likely be more difficult than the standard version. This means if you fall behind in your AP class, you may end up hurting your GPA more than helping it.