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It seems like everyone everywhere is always talking about how you need a perfect standardized test score and a GPA over 4.0 in order to go to college. So what happens if you have a 3.5 GPA? Don’t kiss your college career goodbye just yet. Yes, there are some very competitive schools that require you to have the best of the best in terms of GPA and test scores, but there are also plenty of colleges that will happily accept you and your 3.5 GPA. Ready to learn more?

What Schools Can You Get into With a 3.5 GPA?

Please keep in mind that in the college admissions process, your GPA is not the only determining factor for you being accepted or not. Admissions boards also consider things like your essays, standardize test scores, letters of recommendation, and what extracurricular activities you’ve been involved in. But when you’re looking for colleges to apply to, using your 3.5 GPA as a starting place can help you narrow down what schools to learn more about.

Reach Schools

Below are some schools that will be harder to get into based on your 3.5 GPA alone. Remember, these are not all of the schools that can be a reach school for you; they’re just a sampling I’ve put together.

School Name Location SAT (2400) SAT (1600) ACT GPA
American University Washington, DC 1882 1340 28 3.72
Binghamton University Vestal, NY 1910 1350 29 3.6
Boston University Boston, MA 1930 1370 29 3.59
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 2117 1470 32 3.72
Chapman University Orange, CA 1820 1300 27 3.68
New York University New York, NY 2015 1420 30 3.71
Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 1837 1310 28 3.76
United States Military Academy West Point, NY 1894 1350 29 3.74
University of Connecticut Storrs, CT 1840 1310 27 3.67
University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA 1208 900 27 3.73
University of Texas at Dallas Richardson, TX 1853 1320 28 3.69

Match Schools

Now, your Match Schools are the ones that you and your GPA are a good fit for. Below are a few schools to get you started with your college search. They’re by no means the only ones!

School Name Location SAT (2400) SAT (1600) ACT GPA
Auburn University Auburn University, AL 1736 1240 27 3.74
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 1788 1280 26 3.44
Hofstra University Hempstead, NY 1150 860 25 3.51
Penn State University Park University Park, PA 1762 1260 27 3.57
Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY 1790 1280 28 3.7
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 1730 1240 26 3.6
Texas A&M University College Station, TX 1734 1240 26 3.55
Texas Christian University Fort Worth, TX 1770 1260 27 3.59
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH 1682 1210 25 3.44
University of Houston Houston, TX 1139 850 24 3.51
University of Oklahoma Norman, OK 1160 860 26 3.59

Safety Schools

These are the schools that will look at your 3.5 GPA and probably send you an acceptance letter on the spot. You have a much higher chance of getting into these schools than the others we’ve discussed, but they’re just a starting point for you!

School Name Location SAT (2400) SAT (1600) ACT GPA
California State University Long Beach Long Beach, CA 1027 780 21 3.5
Ohio University Athens, OH 1618 1170 24 3.42
Pace University New York, NY 1090 820 24 3.31
Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT 1640 1180 24 3.4
Seton Hall University South Orange, NJ 1670 1200 25 3.45
Temple University Philadelphia, PA 1682 1210 24 3.44
Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX 1631 1170 25 3.42
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 1679 1210 26 3.6
University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 1625 1170 24 3.4
University of North Texas Denton, TX 1620 1170 23 3.41
University of Oregon Eugene, OR 1664 1200 24 3.6

What Can You Do Next?

Honestly, this depends on where you are in your high school career. The advice that works for a freshman will not apply to you if you’re a senior. So, I’ve organized my words of wisdom based on your grade. If you’re a

  •    Freshman: You have plenty of time to improve your GPA so you can apply to more competitive colleges. Now is a great time to work with a tutor if you’re struggling with specific subjects or a personal coach if you have a time management problem.
  •    Sophomore: Don’t worry, if you work really hard this year and your junior year, you can bring up your GPA slightly. You should concentrate on developing good study habits and working with someone to keep you accountable.
  •    Junior: Because the GPA you have now is what will show up when you apply to college, there’s not much you can do to change your GPA. I suggest you maintain your grades and focus your efforts on test prep instead.
  •    Senior: You’re probably in the middle of applying for schools right now! Work with a college consultant to help you identify more schools that fit your GPA and standardized test scores.

Remember, if you want to go to a more competitive school, but it’s not possible right now, you can always work towards transferring. Be sure to do your research to make sure you can coordinate classes and that the move won’t be a great strain financially.

College admissions is really competitive and leaves a lot of students feeling left out if your GPAs aren’t over a 4.0, but trust me when I say you have every right to be proud of your GPA. I know these schools aren’t always talked about as often, but I don’t want you to think that just because you have a 3.5 GPA that you have no good options in terms of colleges. You now have 33 options to choose from. And that’s just a sampling!

Do you have a 3.5 GPA? What are your thoughts on some of the schools we talked about? Comment below and tell us what’s on your mind!

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