How Do Colleges Evaluate Transcripts?

We have previously written about how colleges evaluate high school transcripts, but how do you find out details about the evaluative process your transcript will go through?  Simple.  You don’t know unless you ask!

As mentioned in the above  post, it is impossible for colleges to compare all high school transcripts as “the same”.  With that said, be cautious of viewing the “average GPA” of admitted students that colleges post with their admission statistics.  You may have a GPA way above the average, but have not taken one AP course at a school that offers 20.  Or you may have a GPA slightly below the average, but have taken a reasonably challenging curriculum based on the number of AP or Honors level courses that are available to you.

But how do you compare to other students if your school does not offer any AP or honors level courses?  What if you transferred schools and were not able to take all of the challenging courses you wanted to?  Whatever you situation, you should research how colleges review transcripts in their admissions process.  Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do they count the number of AP and Honors level course that you take?
  • How do they view the IB program?
  • How would they handle a school that does not offer AP or Honors level courses?
  • How will they compare your transcript to other students?
  • Do they recalculate your GPA? (Meaning will they only look at your grades in certain courses.)
  • Do they only look at your GPA through junior year?
  • Will they ask for senior year mid-quarter (if applying early) or mid-semester (if applying regular) grades?
  • Which courses are the most significant in the evaluation process?

Every college is going to have a different process, so finding out the details is important!

Katherine Price

Educational Consultant

Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hello Ms. Price, I am with a small university in Fort Lauderdale which is going through the accreditation process and will like to know if you could give me some information or suggestions on finding literature on evaluating college transcipts.

    Thank you.

    Dr. W. McPherson
    University of Fort Lauderdale

  2. Hello Dr. McPherson,

    I sent you an email regarding your inquiry, but I am not sure you received it. I am more than happy to discuss with you some resources. Please fill out our contact form and I will give you a call.

    Katherine Price

  3. hello Ms. Price, I am currently a high school student and I have a couple of questions about my transcripts. During my junior year I did well up until my second semester. Although i did have any failing grades i was wondering how it would effect my college admissions process. I had more C’s in my second semester and my dream colleges are for example USC, Harvard…ect.

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