Episode 4: The Truth About the GPA

Episode 4: The Truth About the GPA

Date of Publication/发布日期
September 25, 2020
Jonathan Helland
Files & media
Volume 1 2020-2021

The Truth About Cooking Steak the GPA

Your GPA is the main ingredient in your college application recipe. Imagine there was a cooking competition: the rules are, whoever cooks the best beef steak will get into a top university. Now imagine you walked slowly to the market when those around you ran as fast as they could; you were too slow and when you got there, all the steak was sold out. You could get chicken, or duck, or fish, but you cannot win a steak cooking competition without steak.

It’s the same with the GPA. If your GPA isn’t high enough, it’s almost impossible to get into a top college. Even if every other part of your application is great. No matter how well you cook a fish, it won’t win a steak competition. You’d be much better off competing in a fish cooking competition, even if the prize isn’t as prestigious.


Does that mean that if you have a steak, you will win? No! Of course not! Every ingredient matters. You need a good heat source (test scores), great spices (essays and letters of recommendation), and delicious side dishes (activities) to really make your steak stand out from all the others. Maybe you can still win without one of those ingredients (steak tartar, anyone?) but it definitely puts you at a disadvantage.

If your GPA is even higher than you need, you might be showing up to the competition with exquisite aged wagyu beef or filet mignon when most people are cooking sirloin. But that’s just an advantage, not a guarantee. A perfectly seasoned and cooked ribeye might still beat you.

Unfortunately, what this means is that early mistakes can have lasting consequences. One bad trimester in 9th grade might mean you get to the market late. It’s an unfair system that punishes young adults for mistakes they make as children, but those are the rules of the game.

The good news is, for many students, it’s not too late to work on upgrading to a better cut of meat, or learning some delicious recipes for fish.

In summary: The GPA is the most important factor in college acceptance. Your GPA is what will give you a chance of getting into a top college, and a low GPA will put some schools out of reach. But even the best GPA is a prerequisite to acceptance, never a guarantee. It's every other part of your application that will set you apart from all the other applicants who have met that standard.