October 15, 2018
This fall, we will discuss each major component of your application in a series of blog posts. Our next topic is transcripts.
Like your test scores, your grades are a component of your application that we look at when we are trying to get a sense of your academic abilities. We know that you are interesting, unique individuals with more depth than can be captured by a number on a page. To understand how we put your GPA and grades in context, we have answered some of your more frequent questions:
How do you look at my GPA?
For each application we receive, we look at your GPA and we look beyond your GPA. We look at each class you took, each grade you earned, any grade trends that we can identify. We look at your major(s) and minor(s) and the rigor of your program. We know that not all programs of study nor all semesters of coursework are created equal.
What about graduate school GPA?
We will look at all transcripts you provide to us, be that study abroad, transfer credit, or graduate school. We do not have a specific weighing process for grades from certain years of study or types of degree programs. Going to graduate school is another academic data point for us to consider during our review process.
Do you prefer certain types of undergrad institutions over others?
Nope. Just like we are looking past the GPA into the deeper context, we are looking past the name of your school into what you did there and what impact that had on you. There are 344 undergraduate institutions represented in the student body at HLS, including 173 undergraduate institutions in our 1L class!
How do you consider grade fluctuations?
If you feel like your grades need additional context as we review your application, consider writing an addendum. For you that might be a place to be explain a dip, a disruption, or a change of course. Addenda exist so that you can provide a full picture in which we should understand the application materials you provided. Remember: those explanations are generally quite short (maybe a few sentences or a paragraph).
Can I still get in if my GPA is below your median?
GPA is one of many things considered when we think about your academic abilities. We do admit a class with strong academic indicators, but we gain information about your academics in many ways (see: our recent post about test scores). By nature of having a larger incoming class, we have up to 140 people who come in with a GPA below our 25th percentile. And we do not use any cut-offs or shortcuts; every application will always be fully considered. So make sure you are looking at the full picture of your abilities when you write your application, and we will consider everything you share with us.
Filed in: Inside the Black Box