If you’ve been earning mostly As and Bs in high school, then you may be wondering about colleges that accept 3.5 GPA.
Those are pretty good grades, so you may not have too much trouble finding a variety of schools that would be happy to accept your application.
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If you read on, you can learn more about the college opportunities for students with this GPA and how to improve your chances of being accepted to some of your top-choice schools.
Colleges That Accept 3.5 GPA
As you go through high school, all of your semester grades will be totaled together and factored into a figure known as your grade point average, or GPA. This one number represents, on average, how you performed in your high school classes.
If you have a 3.5 GPA, then you’ve probably earned mostly As and Bs in school. Your grades put you in the top half of high school students in the United States. As such, there may be quite a few colleges that would consider having you as a member of their student bodies.
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Whether a 3.5 GPA makes you a shoo-in for admission will vary from school to school, though. Each college has different standards, and some have higher GPA requirements than others.
As you consider where to apply, it’s strategic to choose a spectrum of schools—some with more stringent admission policies and others that accept a higher percentage of applicants.
Your safety schools are the colleges at which you have a high chance of being accepted. The average GPA of their freshman classes is probably under 3.5.
Often, these schools have the capacity to accept a large portion of the people who apply. Sending your application to a few safety schools means that you’ll increase the likelihood of receiving at least one college acceptance letter.
Your match schools are the ones whose admission policies seem to line up just right with your grades and abilities. Many of the students they admit may have GPAs just like yours.
There are no guarantees in the college admissions process, but sending your applications to match schools can increase your chances of receiving acceptance letters.
Reach schools may seem somewhat out of your range. They may accept only a fraction of applicants, and many of the students who get in probably have GPAs above 3.5. It could be worth applying for a few of these colleges, though, especially if you have high test scores.
Granted, GPA isn’t the only thing that colleges consider for student admissions. They often rely on test scores, references, extracurricular involvement, and writing samples as well.
What Is a 3.5 GPA?
Your grade point average (GPA) is a numerical figure that represents your high school grades. Typically, a 4.0 is an A average, and a 3.0 is a B average. If your GPA is 3.5, then you’re halfway between those two scores.
Your semester grades in most classes might fall between 87% and 90%. Of course, there may be classes where you score higher or lower. In general, though, you’re probably an A and B student. The average GPA for high school students is 3.0. With a 3.5, then, you’re above the national average.
If your school uses weighted grades instead of an unweighted 4.0 scale, your 3.5 may have a different value. Getting extra points for AP or honors classes makes it possible to earn a 3.5 without receiving many As. At a school with a 5.0 or 6.0 scale, a 3.5 might be a B or B- average.
Is a 3.5 GPA Good in College?
There are many universities that accept 3.5 GPA. It doesn’t mean guaranteed acceptance, of course. For one thing, GPA isn’t the only factor that colleges use to determine which students would be a good fit for their school.
Also, highly selective schools may prefer scores that are even closer to a 4.0. Even still, if you make it through your high school years with a 3.5 GPA, you should have an increased chance of getting into several schools.
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Once you’ve made it to college, it’s beneficial to keep up with a 3.5 GPA or above. Your college GPA could play a role in whether you can get into grad school. Some graduate programs require minimum GPAs of 3.5 to 3.7. The higher your college grades are, the better your grad school admission chances will be.
Can You Raise Your GPA?
Until high school is over, your GPA is not set in stone. Little by little, you can bring up your grade point average, especially if you start the process early in your high school career.
- Freshman. Your freshman GPA is based on only a few classes. You’ll take quite a few more before graduation, so there’s plenty of time to move up—or down. If you’re struggling in a particular subject, now’s a strategic time to start getting extra help.
- Sophomore. This is about the halfway point toward the GPA that will appear on your college applications. There’s less time for change than there was during freshman year, but a concerted effort may help you increase your score by a few tenths of a point.
- Junior. It will be time to send in college applications soon, so the opportunities to improve your GPA are dwindling. It’s beneficial to keep up good study habits so that you can maintain or improve your GPA, but it’s also helpful to prepare for the ACT or SAT.
- Senior. Your senior year grades do matter, but they won’t show up on most of the college applications that you submit. During this year, it’s helpful to focus on both coursework and strong test scores.
A 3.5 is a strong grade point average. If you can achieve that by your junior year, then you could be on track for admission to some satisfactory schools.
Other College Admissions Requirements
It’s common for 3.5 GPA colleges to accept students who have earned mostly As and Bs in high school. Your GPA probably won’t be the sole factor that’s considered, though. In addition, admissions committees often look at:
- Extracurricular involvement. Your application may have a space to list your clubs, teams, and volunteer experiences. Those extracurricular activities may boost your appeal. Admissions committees appreciate the idea of students who get involved and engage with their school communities.
- Scores from the ACT or SAT. Your standardized test scores can make a difference in how you’re received by colleges. High scores may help balance out a GPA that’s below a school’s average. If your exam scores are good, you may want to submit them even to test-optional colleges.
- Reference letters. The people you choose as references can be an asset during the college admissions process. You may want to select a variety of references who have seen you excel in different settings. For example, you might ask a teacher to be one of your references and a boss or a volunteer coordinator to be the other.
- Writing samples. Many colleges will ask you to answer a question or write an essay. This helps them get to know your personality, but it also showcases how well you write, so it’s very advantageous to proofread your submission. You may want to ask a friend or a teacher to edit your work too.
Apart from looking at your GPA, the admissions committee will probably review your whole transcript, taking into account the classes you completed. A 3.5 GPA that came mostly from challenging classes will probably work in your favor more than a 3.5 based on easier courses.
What Is a Good GPA in College?
What’s considered a strong GPA can vary from one college to another. Some schools gladly accept applicants who have earned 3.5 GPAs. On the other hand, Ivy League universities may primarily look for 3.9 to 4.0 GPAs.
In general, though, the average GPA for American high school students is 3.0. Scores above that average can provide an advantage during the college admissions process.
Schools that accept 3.5 GPA appreciate that students with that score have earned mostly As and Bs. They may feel confident that those students will have the ability to succeed in a college setting.
Do Colleges Look at Cumulative GPA?
Yes, most colleges pay close attention to your cumulative GPA. That value represents the grades you’ve earned throughout your entire high school career. It gives universities a picture of your overall academic achievements.
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Your cumulative GPA is different from your semester GPA, which represents your grades from just one term. That score gives you a snapshot of how you’re doing in school right now. Colleges want to see a more comprehensive GPA that’s based on your whole high school experience.
What Colleges Can I Get Into with a 3.5 GPA?
There are many colleges for 3.5 GPA students. Students who have earned many As and Bs in high school have a higher success rate in university settings. For that reason, college acceptance letters aren’t uncommon for people with 3.5 GPAs.
Of course, a 3.5 grade point average doesn’t mean guaranteed acceptance everywhere. At highly selective schools, the average GPA may be much closer to 4.0.
Even colleges with average GPAs of 3.5 or below may not be the right fit for you. It’s strategic to apply to multiple colleges with a range of acceptance rates and admissions policies.
What Is a Good Engineering GPA?
As a general rule, it’s beneficial to aim for a GPA of at least 3.0 if you want to get into a college engineering program.
For certain branches of engineering, though, you may want to strive for a higher score. Particularly challenging departments, such as electrical engineering, may expect students to have at least an A or A- average. That means applying with a GPA of 3.5 or above.
The most popular engineering fields, such as software engineering, receive many applications. Their open spots may go to the students with the highest GPAs—often 3.5 or higher.
Can I Get a Scholarship with a 3.5 GPA?
Yes, with a 3.5 GPA, you may meet the qualifications for many scholarship programs. You might be competing with others who have even higher GPAs, but an impressive slate of volunteer service or extracurricular involvement may improve your standing.
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The more scholarships you apply for, the more chances you’ll have of winning one. To round out your opportunities, you can also seek out non-academic scholarship programs. You might qualify for those because of your athletic skills, community work, family background, or other factors.
Best Colleges That Accept a 3.5 GPA for Admission
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format. In addition, the universities accept 3.5 GPAs as part of their admissions requirements.
American University uses a holistic admissions process. AU is interested in applicants’ academic interests and lives outside the classroom.
Applications must include high school transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and letters of recommendation from teachers and counselors. Successful candidates for admission have usually completed a rigorous college preparatory curriculum.
American University is accredited bythe Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Auburn University uses high school transcripts as the primary criteria for determining academic preparedness. Applicants are expected to have completed a high school curriculum that included English, social studies, math, and science.
Auburn also considers weighted and unweighted GPA scores, ACT and SAT scores, academic rigor, and high school learning opportunities.
Auburn University is accredited bythe Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Ball State University
Ball State University evaluates each application on an individual basis. Factors considered include academic performance, level of coursework, and extracurricular participation. Optional materials include test scores, a resume, a personal statement, or a letter of recommendation.
Applications must be completed at least two weeks before the start of the term.
Ball State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Binghamton University offers the opportunity to speak with admissions counselors and current students virtually before applying.
The application requires the submission of official transcripts and one teacher or counselor recommendation, but test scores are currently optional. Applicants may also submit a talent portfolio. Successful applicants usually have GPAs of 3.7 to 3.9, but lower GPAs may be accepted.
Binghamton University is accredited bythe Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Chapman University is currently test-optional. Test scores that are submitted are superscored. Applicants are also asked to submit official transcripts and at least one letter of recommendation from a teacher. Those applying to specific majors may be asked for additional materials.
Applicants may apply for early action, early decision, or regular decision.
Chapman University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities.
Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University bases its admissions decisions primarily on GPA, course selection, class rank, and standardized test scores. An applicant’s grades in core courses are particularly important. FAU calculates GPA based on grades in English, math, science, social studies, foreign languages, and academic electives.
Certain majors have additional requirements.
Florida Atlantic University is accredited bythe Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Hofstra University accepts about 62% of its applicants. Applicants are evaluated based on high school transcripts, an essay, a guidance counselor recommendation, and test scores if they are provided. Each application is reviewed individually.
The average GPA of admitted students is 3.7, but lower GPAs may be accepted. Admitted applicants have typically completed a rigorous college preparatory curriculum.
Hofstra University is accredited bythe Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Kansas State University
Kansas State University is currently test-optional. Applicants are expected to have a cumulative high school GPA of at least 3.25, an SAT score of at least 1060, or a composite ACT score of at least 21. Applications are reviewed individually, and applicants may still apply even if they do not meet these basic requirements.
Kansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
To apply to Liberty University, applicants must submit high school transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and an essay. Liberty recommends a high school curriculum that includes English, math, lab science, social science, a foreign language, and electives. Admitted students typically have GPAs between 3.15 and 3.83.
Liberty University is accredited bythe Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Michigan State University
Michigan State University evaluates high school academic performance, the quality of the curriculum, performance trends, class rank, and other demonstrated talents or experiences. Test scores are optional. Most admitted students have GPAs of at least 3.5, but there are no minimum requirements.
Michigan State University is accredited bythe Higher Learning Commission.
Missouri State University
At Missouri State University, admissions decisions are primarily based on a combination of class rank percentile, GPA, and test scores if they are submitted. Ideal applicants should have a high school curriculum that includes English or language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, fine arts, and additional electives.
Missouri State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Ohio University considers the strength of an applicant’s high school curriculum, their GPA and academic performance, class rank, and SAT or ACT scores if provided. The average GPA of accepted students is 3.58, but lower GPA scores may be accepted.
Some colleges and programs have more selective criteria than the general university.
Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Pepperdine University considers applicants’ academic records, GPAs, test scores, backgrounds of service and leadership, references, and short answers or personal statements. The middle 50% of accepted students have unweighted high school GPAs between 3.64 and 3.97, but lower GPAs may be accepted.
Pepperdine offers interviews as part of the application process, but this is not required.
Pepperdine University is accredited bythe Western Association of Schools and Colleges—Senior College and University Commission.
Quinnipiac University considers many factors besides GPA when making admissions decisions. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a personal essay, and at least one letter of recommendation. While there are no set criteria, Quinnipiac recommends that applicants have a GPA of at least 3.3 and an SAT score of at least 1080.
Quinnipiac Universityis accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Seton Hall University
Seton Hall University asks applicants to submit official high school transcripts and a teacher evaluation. SAT and ACT scores are optional. Test scores will be superscored. The average GPA of accepted students is 3.6, but lower GPA scores may be accepted. Applicants usually receive a response within four to six weeks.
Seton Hall University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University requires a minimum GPA of 3.0. SBU is highly selective and looks for students who demonstrate intellectual curiosity. To apply, applicants need to submit high school transcripts, a teacher or counselor recommendation, and an essay. Standardized test scores are currently optional.
Stony Brook University is accredited bythe Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Temple University takes a holistic approach to reviewing applications. Factors that are considered include high school performance, application essays, and extracurricular activities. Standardized test scores and letters of recommendation are optional. Applicants can apply to start in either the fall or spring semester.
Temple Universityisaccreditedby the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of Colorado – Boulder
The University of Colorado—Boulder looks for intellectually curious, actively involved students. The admissions review process is holistic and takes a variety of factors into account. Factors considered include grades, the rigor of completed coursework, personal essays, and letters of recommendation.
Applicants may also submit SAT or ACT scores.
The University of Colorado – Boulder is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut expects applicants to have completed college preparatory courses that include English, math, social studies, a foreign language, science, and electives. When reviewing transcripts, UConn may recalculate GPA to weight advanced coursework, such as AP classes.
UConn also requires the submission of an essay and gives the option to submit letters of recommendation and test scores.
The University of Connecticut is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
University of Wyoming
The University of Wyoming offers rolling admission. Applicants are only required to fill out an application and submit official transcripts, but SAT or ACT scores may also be submitted. It is recommended that applicants have a cumulative, unweighted GPA of at least 3.0.
The University of Wyoming is accredited bythe Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your College Degree Online
Colleges for B students and A students are plentiful, so if you have a 3.5 GPA, you may be well on your way to getting an advanced education. There may be promising opportunities waiting for you at both on-campus schools and online colleges.
Going to school online has a number of benefits. For instance, online programs are often flexible and supportive, even for students with busy schedules or numerous responsibilities. The sooner you begin exploring accredited colleges and universities, the sooner you can begin applying to schools.
You can start looking for in-person or online programs that meet your goals today.
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.