Weighted Grades: The Weight of the World?

It has been a topic of discussion throughout ACPS this winter and the county has gone as far as sending a district-wide email sent to students asking us what we think. The students of WAHS share how they feel about the possibility of getting rid of weighted grades.

Right now when a student takes an honors class, an AP class, or a dual enrollment class at Western, their GPA gets bumped up. So when you calculate all of your classes together, you could potentially have higher than a 4.0 average if it’s weighted. It’s not that a B turns into an A, but students do get four quality points instead of just three.

According to the admissions blog at UVA, Dean J does not care about GPAs. “Admission officers know that the way schools calculate a GPA varies dramatically. Many get around this by having a system that recalculates every GPA so the different methodologies are removed. We don’t do that here (not saying it isn’t a possibility one day). Instead, we look at the transcript to see the courses you took and the grades that you earned…The transcript is far more compelling and informative than your GPA.”

Amy Wright, Director of School Counseling, comments on the district’s motives in looking to remove weighted grades from the county.

“What I believe the county is trying to do is reduce the competitive nature of students and going after all the AP’s, and all the dual enrollments, and all the honors that they possibly can, whether it’s healthy for them or not,” Ms. Wright said.

Many feel that weighted grades offer a cushion of sorts to students who are taking high level classes, and rewards them for their effort and achievements. Sophomore Mary Moffett is in her second year of an Honors/AP schedule and speaks on this subject passionately.

“I think weighted grades are a great thing and they help alleviate some of the stress that comes along with honors and AP classes because you aren’t necessarily under so much pressure to get an A like you would be in other classes,” Moffett said.

However, others such as sophomore Amelia Nichols feel that weighted grades offer no benefit and only encourage students to take classes that they don’t enjoy.

“I want to go to college for something not relating to the core classes. I want to be an interior designer, and in order to do that I have to take classes like architectural drawing or technical drawing. It’s just unfair that my friends that take AP and honors classes that they enjoy get a higher weight than I do just because we have different interests,” Nichols said.

Tim DeSimone, JMU freshman, was editor of this newspaper and is now on the flip-side of the ordeal that is applying to college. He said, “Weighted grades are not as important as they used to be. Colleges are saying now that they want well rounded applicants. For example, I wanted to study music so I wasn’t going to take AP calculus.”

“I’d say colleges are shifting their perspective in terms of getting in,” DeSimone said. “Taking a challenging schedule is important, but it’s more important that you stand aside from everyone else applying.”

At WAHS, students’ feelings on weighted grades remain varied and highly opinionated. However, it’s important for students to understand that weighted grades really aren’t a make or break factor that colleges want to see on your transcript.

Ms. Wright puts the issue into perspective: “You can have a good strong GPA even if it’s unweighted. People want to be rewarded for hard work, and I think to an extent one measure of that would go away if we took away weighted grades, but at the end of the day you either did great in the class or you didn’t. If you’re a great student, it’s going to show on your transcript whether we have weighted grades or not.”