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GPA Movement in your Senior Year


This post was inspired by a recent post by (and commentary with) Siervo de Dios on the USC Student Forum, regarding the GPA. I spent some time understanding how the GPA works while at USC, and this post is an attempt to help persons understand the impact of performance on your GPA in the final semesters. My apologies for the length... but the explanation may help some persons to get it.

I'm creating a hypothetical scenario here: one where the total credits needed to graduate is 128; basically 8 full-time semesters at 16 credits per semester. The student ends his third (Junior) year with 96 credits, and with a GPA of 3.0; this means he has accumulated 288 GPA points (96 x 3.0). He aims to complete his final two semesters (16 credits each) with all A's. (See screenshot below for simplicity.)

GPA Calculation

If he secures all A's as intended, he amasses 64 GPA points (16 x 4.0) in Year 4, Semester 1. The cumulative GPA points total increases to 352 (288 + 64), and credits moves to 112 (96 + 16) credits. The cumulative GPA moves to 3.143.

In the final semester, he again amasses 64 GPA points - Cumulative GPA Points: 416; Cumulative Credits: 128. After two "straight A" semesters, the GPA moved from 3.0 to 3.25.

Many persons are confused in their senior year when they don't see massive changes in the GPA; this post shows mathematically why this so. Of course, your degree may require more than 128 credits; this is just an average case study.

Far from wanting to disappoint persons in their senior year, this object of this post was primarily to clear the mysterious fog around the GPA issue, and secondarily to encourage persons who have recently started to put your best foot forward in your classes.

(Note 1: In this scenario, if the student came in with a GPA of 3.334 after the third year, he can achieve the 'Cum Laude' honour (minimum GPA: 3.500) if he does two straight A semesters of 16 credits each.)

There are some tips I'd like to share, but will leave them for a possible post in the future.

Wishing everyone a blessed semester.

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