4.0 or No. 4?


Courtesy of Lake Ridge Media

College pamphlets displaying the many options students have

At Lake Ridge, the day most seniors anticipate is graduation. On this day, classmates, teachers, and parents see the students get recognized in areas such as GPA and who worked relentlessly for that number one spot. On the other hand, there are seniors who will also be receiving their diploma that chose to take the hands-on career route in order to get familiar with the major they will study in college. Although both paths benefit students, each path may help a student differently when reviewed by a specific college of their choice.

A the start of students’ freshmen year of high school, the classes they take are averaged into a point based system where the typical highest score is a 4.0 grade point average. With the exception of taking AP, PreAp, and TCC classes, students are able to receive over a 4.0 due to the ten point bonus added to their grade for taking a more challenging class than the standard classes. According to Shannon Shaver, University of Texas at Arlington Admission Counselor, a student’s GPA is crucial when it comes to applying to college.  

“For freshmen, we base our admissions decision off of class rank and test scores. If you’re in the top quarter of your class, you’ll get automatic admission, regardless of your scores. If you’re in the second quarter, we’re looking for a score of 1100 [SAT] or 22 [ACT]. In the third or fourth quarter, it goes to individual review, which means they look at your test scores and if you’ve taken dual credit and they make their decision from there,” Shaver said.

Raising your GPA for college can be beneficial for a student, but on the other hand, other students may choose to take curriculum specific classes at the Ben Barber Innovation Academy in order to practice and get exposed to their choice of study early on. At Ben Barber, students are able to choose from several programs of study which allow students to focus more on their chosen major they aspire to study in college. Despite not giving students the ten point bonus for GPA, Micah Bolden, Baylor University Undergraduate Admission Counselor, believes these classes can still benefit a student throughout their school career.

“It’s gonna be what’s most beneficial for the student. I’d just recommend narrowing down what you’re interested in taking and focusing on your electives in that area. It’s great that you have the opportunity to learn a little bit before hand and even though they may not count for college credit, it will help you in the classroom, so I would definitely recommend them,” Bolden stated.

Students are able to choose either “path” during their high school career but they each will have their own benefits when it comes to specific colleges. Some colleges, such as UTA, have a more loose requirement when it comes to applying as compared to an Ivy League college such as Princeton’s submit, request, and report application process. While each college has their own requirements and specifications for admission, Jim Atwood, Assistant to the Dean at Texas Christian University, believes that students should not feel pressured or forced to take specific classes only to prepare for college.

“What I want the student to do is to take the class the student feels is best suited for him or her. Obviously the more challenging courses are gonna appear on the transcript in a higher fashion, but I would say take the more difficult course. I’m a big believer in students taking classes that will benefit them most. I would encourage students to take the courses that are more challenging and more interesting to them,” Atwood said.

Taking AP classes would be a safer route when it comes to applying for an undecided college because not all credits directly transfer into a student’s career path. Choosing academically challenged courses may help out in the long run when it comes to GPA and class ranking but career centered classes provide students with early on experience in their area of interest that isn’t touched upon in a standard classroom. According to Shaver, Ben Barber classes will benefit students in different ways other than improving your academic career grade-wise.

“Ben Barber classes allow you to take classes that will inform you more than an academic class [about] what that job is going to be like. Any class that allows a student to experience things hands-on is going to help a lot with students and their educational horizons and learn more about what they actually want to do with their life. It’s a great opportunity for students. It’s something that gives students an opportunity to learn something they might not in the traditional academic classroom,” Shaver stated.

Both paths, whether GPA based or more tailored for experience with a major, are beneficial for students, certain colleges will look at a variety of factors before admitting a student into the college. With both paths available for students to take, in the end, it’s up to the individual’s preference on which classes to take and what will benefit them most throughout their academic career.