As many of you are sending in your final application documents, I would like to answer some of your many questions about the application review process, starting with the transcripts. So many high school students, and so many more parents, are always asking me about how we look at high school transcripts.
- What year is most important?
- What GPA do I need?
- Do we care about Honors or Advanced Placement courses?
- How important is the transcript in comparison to the other items in the application?
First of all, UMass Boston follows review guidelines established by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. Feel free to click on the link to see the detailed admissions standard guidelines. Essentially, when we begin looking at your transcript, we look at all of your transcript (freshman, sophomore, junior, and at least the 1st quarter of your senior year grades). All four years of your high school work is very important to us, and we will use all of it to calculate your GPA… so Senioritis is not acceptable!
Calculate my GPA? But isn’t it already on my transcript?
Instead of looking at the GPA that is printed on your transcript, we go back to your individual grades in all of your core courses and calculate our own GPA using the four years of grades. What are the core courses?
- 4 years of English
- 3 years of math
- 3 years of science (two of them should include lab work)
- 2 years of foreign language
- 2 years of social science (including a Unite States History course)
- 2 years of electives (which is any of the categories previously mentioned, arts, humanities, or computer science)
Now not all students have all of these core courses. Maybe you attend a vocational/technical school and don’t have the option of taking a foreign language. Maybe a learning disability got you waived from a course. Maybe you are studying English as a Second Language and do not need to take another language.. Or maybe your high school is in Australia where United States history is not a course option. There are exceptions to every rule–and we are certainly used to reviewing the exceptions.
Do you care about Honors and Advanced Placement Courses?
Yes! We care if you challenged yourself academically and we want to reward you for your hard work. When we calculate your GPA we are converting it to a 4.0 scale (see the conversion chart available on the Board of Higher Education website). If you receive a B in a course, that is equivalent to a 3.0. If that course is an Honors course, we will bump up your 3.0 to a 3.5, if that course is an Advanced Placement (AP) course, we will bump your grade up one full point to a 4.0. Our average high school graduate entering UMass Boston has a 3.0 GPA.
Now of course we care about all of your application, not just your GPA. In fact we work on a sliding scale when comparing your SATs or ACTs. Our average student coming into UMass Boston will have a 3.0GPA and a 1050 on the Math and Critical Reading portions of the SATs (which is equivalent to a 23 composite score on the ACT). Now that is our average student. We certainly admit students who have GPAs lower than 3.0, but we are also looking for them to have SATs/ACTs that are higher than our average score to compensate.
We are also going to review your essay, letters of recommendation, and activity information. This helps to paint a picture of you–the applicant–so that we can better understand who you are, what you do with your time, and what you are capable of.
So keep working hard and keep those grades up, because we will be checking them soon!