This post is marked as OLD. Columbia Business School no longer requires candidates to convert their own GPAs, and as of 2013, EssaySnark cannot think of any other school that still does either. You may still want to convert your GPA so that you see where you fall within the school's averages, as those are reported in the U.S. 4.0 scale, but you probably don't need to worry about it for the application.
Today is a holiday here in the U.S. It’s Labor Day, where we recognize the contributions that unions have made in building our country. However, in honor of our stressed-out international Brave Supplicants, we’re offering this post specific to them:
What to do about the GPA.
Or more precisely, what to do about the academic ranking when it’s not expressed under the U.S. 4.0 GPA system.
A Brave Supplicant asked us about this in a comment on another post recently. Here’s the question:
Hi Essay Snark,
In my undergraduate engineering degree, I scored 76% (considered honors in my undergraduation university). According to Columbia’s conversion chart it’s equivalent to a GPA of 2.3 which doesn’t sound right as only two students scored higher than me in a class of 60.
Should I get my GPA calculated by wes.org and report that in my applications?
We answered briefly in the comments but here’s a more detailed response, to hopefully help you and other international Brave Supplicants figure this stuff out (please note that as of the 2012 admissions season, Columbia no longer requires students who were educated under another grade reporting system to convert their marks to the 4.0 scale).
This is a common question, and you’re right, your grades are most likely equivalent to much higher than a 2.3 GPA; it’s almost definitely going to be higher than 3.0 and probably better than that, even.
As one datapoint, we had an Indian client with a 82.6% ranking whose grades were equivalent to 3.8 on a 4.0 scale. This doesn’t mean that everyone with a 82.6% from Indian has a 3.8 GPA; sometimes, a college reports a much lower percentage for a Brave Supplicant and it still is equivalent to a good GPA, based on the quality of the college.
You might want to check out this wiki page — though be careful, you’re definitely NOT at a 4.0 GPA, hardly anyone ever is. That chart is very generous with how they’re saying the conversion should be done. A common mistake with Indian candidates is being too liberal with their GPA conversion, and you don’t want to do that, as the school may say it’s a fraudulent misrepresentation of your background, and they can reject you for that alone.
This PDF from WES that’s available on the wiki page has a more useful conversion chart, though it only goes to the letter grades and not to the corresponding GPA. You might want to use that: Take your 76%, and see that it’s a solid B grade, which converts to 3.0. This is still a low GPA, and we assume the BSer who asked us about it actually did better than that, but it’s a start.
We often do recommend that our international clients use the WES service even if the target school does not require it, if only because it helps us (as their consultant) evaluate their academics on an apples-to-apples basis against other candidates. And, if you do that, then yes, you could report the GPA that WES comes back with to your schools, either by marking it on your resume or by mentioning it in an optional essay, if you need to write one about your academics. If you do this, just be sure to indicate where you came up with the GPA equivalent; the schools will want to know the source of the conversion. You probably wouldn’t need to provide the WES documentation, just include a simple statement about it when you reference the GPA.
Most schools ask that you report the ‘native’ ranking or score, so you’ll need to follow the directions carefully in each school’s app.
If you need more help, the Transcripts and Grades App Accelerator walks you through a full process of self-assessing your academics and planning out your strategy for addressing weaknesses.