Interview 12: Cliff Thornton on "Holistic Admissions"
YCBK30: The 4 Different Types of Grade Point Averages [Transcript]

YCBK30: The 4 Different Types of Grade Point Averages

In this week’s episode…

In the News (2:16): We review an article by financial guru Mark Kantrowitz that shares 10 tips on how to cut the cost of college.

Mark Kantrowitz
This article was written on May 7th, 2018. (Length 8:24)

In this week’s book discussion we are in Chapter 30 of 171 Answers and we discuss (10:40) the primary 4 types of grade point averages and why you should know which ones are being used by the colleges on your list.

171 Answers to the Most-Asked College Admission Questions
After we spend time listing and describing these four different ways Grade Point average (GPA) is calculated, we go on to let our listeners know that there is actually a 5th method of calculating GPA and we let the listeners know what that fifth method is. We talk about how you can know which of these five methods of calculating GPA’s the schools on your list are using to evaluate you or your child. Grades are consistently revealed as the most frequently cited factor in surveys about what colleges put the most weight on in the college admissions process. This is something you want to understand. (Length 8:50)

This week’s question (19:30) comes from Ms. Brown from North Carolina and she wants to know what Mark thinks of free test prep that is available on the internet.

Mark discusses three different places where students can get quality free test prep but Mark also shares why free test prep is something that he normally recommends only for those who cannot afford one on one or group test prep. There is another time when free test prep makes sense for affluent, or middle and upper middle class families, and Mark shares when this is appropriate (Length 8:20).

Cliff Thornton, the Associate Director of Admission at Wesleyan University is interviewed (27:10) and he discusses the common mistakes that students make in their course selection that impact their college options at selective colleges.

Cliff discusses what mindset students should have with their course selection. He discusses what his expectations are in Math, Science, English, History and Foreign Language. He discusses whether the major a student declares impacts the expectations for course rigor. He discusses how a student should determine whether their curriculum is too rigorous. Cliff has been at Wesleyan for three decades and he draws off his considerable experience as he discusses these questions and several others. He also draws an important distinction between how liberal colleges interpret rigor, vs how universities with specific schools interpret rigor. (Length 24:10)

Mark’s recommended resource for this week is “SDP Summer Melt Handbook: A Guide to Investigating and Responding to Summer Melt”. If you want a copy of this resource just send us an email and ask us to send it to you. Our email is


Don’t forget to send your questions related to any and every facet of the college process to:

Every episode of Your College-Bound Kid will align with a chapter from the book 171 Answers to the Most-Asked College Admission Questions. To get a copy visit and if you want to see what future episodes will cover just click the red button “See exactly what 171 Answers covers”.

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