Many people ask how to increase their GPA after graduation, but unfortunately, it is not possible to change your GPA after graduation. When you graduate, that GPA becomes final.
However, there are some things that you can do to change your cumulative GPA or at least the GPA that colleges or grad schools will look at.
Read on to learn more about why you can’t raise your GPA after you graduate, if your transcript can be changed, and how to improve your GPA for colleges and grad school after you graduate.
If you need help finding out what your GPA is, check out the post How to Find Out Your GPA During College and After You Graduate.
Can I raise my GPA after I graduate?
When a student graduates, their record is closed—that means that a student’s GPA at graduation is final. However, while their GPA at graduation cannot change, students can take additional courses to improve the cumulative GPA that colleges and grad schools look at for admissions.
Taking additional courses and doing well shows that your academic performance has improved.
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Can your transcript be changed after you graduate from high school or college?
A high school or college transcript cannot be changed unless there was an error. Even if there was an error, the student often only has limited time to request a change. In some cases, the change may still not be granted.
Not being able to change your transcript means that you cannot change the GPA that you graduated with—however, keep reading to find out the benefits of taking additional courses after graduation.
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How can I raise my GPA after graduating high school?
Students cannot raise their high school GPA after they graduate from high school. However, students looking to raise their GPA for college admissions can go to community college or a less competitive college to show they can earn a higher GPA and then transfer.
Colleges will look at their GPA from a community college or the college they are transferring from, along with their high school GPA. The community college GPA will have more weight and will show improvement.
Students can also work on the other areas of their application—including their essays, extracurriculars, ACT/SAT, and letters of recommendation.
Why does it matter if you graduate from college with a low GPA?
Graduating with a low GPA can be an obstacle to getting into grad school. Graduate schools often look for a 3.0 GPA or above.
If you graduated with a low GPA and are looking for a job, you do not need to worry about raising your GPA. Leave your GPA off your resume and network, secure good references, and work on your interview skills.
If an employer asks about your low GPA, be honest and explain the situation. Then, talk about what you learned and your strengths. Learn more about how to talk about your bad GPA.
Best option: wait to graduate college until you raise your GPA
Since your GPA when you graduate is final, the best option you can do to raise your GPA is to wait to graduate college until you raise your GPA.
While staying longer in college is not ideal because of the extra time and money, and it is not necessary for most people unless they want to go to graduate school, it is an option to allow you to raise your GPA.
You can raise your GPA by either retaking classes or taking additional classes (and doing well in them).
Students can utilize their school’s grade forgiveness policy to retake courses and replace the old grade with the new one.
Each school has its own policy when it comes to this, but most schools require first the grade to be a C- or below, only allow a certain number of courses to be retaken, and show both attempts and grades on their transcript and mark which grade was included in your GPA.
Retaking classes can be a great way to raise your GPA if you got a low grade in only a couple of classes that are bringing down your GPA, and you are confident that you can do better in the course if you retake it.
Learn more about retaking college classes.
Take additional courses
You can also take additional courses to raise your GPA.
GPA is the average of your grades in all your classes, so taking more classes (and doing well) will raise your GPA.
If you need to raise your GPA for grad school, postpone graduation and take more classes until you can get your GPA within the required range.
How can I improve my undergraduate GPA after graduating from college
Students cannot improve their GPA after graduating from college because their record is final when their degree is granted. However, students can take additional courses or get a second degree to raise the cumulative GPA that grad schools look at and to show improvement.
New courses do not change their graduating GPA (your transcript is not changed), but they will appear on a new transcript and can be added to a cumulative or overall GPA.
If grad schools factor in all the courses (even post-graduation) in your cumulative GPA and look at that, then taking additional courses will improve the GPA that grad schools look at.
It is important to find out how the grad schools you are interested in calculate GPA. Some grad schools may look at your cumulative GPA (your GPA from all your courses taken), focus on your most recent 20-60 credits, only look at your GPA at graduation, or only look at classes related to the major.
Even if new courses are not factored in when the grad school calculates your GPA, they will still show improvement and that you are capable of succeeding.
Another option is to get a second bachelor’s degree related to the program you want to pursue in grad school. Doing better in that degree will show a higher GPA for that degree and will show that you can handle the coursework.
Take non-degree-seeking courses or programs
Most community colleges offer open enrollment (students can enroll without seeking a degree), and many colleges and universities offer non-degree courses, so you can take courses without being enrolled in a degree program—this allows you to take additional courses in your area of study.
As stated, taking additional courses won’t change the GPA you had when you graduated, but the grad school may factor them into your cumulative GPA that they look at, and it shows that you have improved.
Taking more classes in your field also gives you an opportunity to develop relationships with your professors which can be useful for experience in your field (such as research) and letters of recommendation.
To further show improvement, you can also look at professional development courses and certificate programs to show that you have continued to learn and developed more skills.
Retake classes after graduation
Students are not able to utilize grade forgiveness policies to retake classes after graduation to replace the grade, and the class will appear on a new transcript.
However, retaking classes may still be a good idea if the class is a prerequisite or important for the graduate degree you are applying for.
Retaking the class can show grad schools you understand the material and have improved.
Get a second bachelor’s degree to raise GPA
Finally, students could also get a second bachelor’s degree to raise their GPA. Generally, all your general education courses will already be complete, so you only have to do the major requirements.
The new degree will be a separate GPA from your first degree (besides for any general education courses or electives that are counted toward each).
If you did well in the general courses and badly in your major courses, or if you want to go to grad school in an entirely different field and would need to take a lot of prerequisites anyway, then this could be a good option. It would show a higher GPA, improvement, and dedication.
However, this will be a time-consuming and expensive venture, so it is normally not worth it unless you have limited other options to get into the grad school program you want (and can’t find another program with a less strict admissions policy).
Other ways to increase chances of getting into grad school with a low GPA
Besides taking additional courses or getting a second degree, let’s look at some other things you can do to help you get into grad school with a low GPA.
Do your research
Research what grad schools offer a program in your desired field. Look for ones with lower GPA requirements.
Look for colleges that have lower GPA requirements or don’t have a minimum GPA requirement.
Some schools expect a 3.5 GPA, others a 3.0 GPA expectation, some have a 2.5 minimum, and some that have no set GPA requirement.
Reach out to the grad school about their policy and see if you could be admitted on academic probation.
Gain other experience
Other things can help compensate for a low undergraduate GPA, such as:
- doing good on entrance exams
- writing a good essay
- getting professional experience
- being involved in your field by attending conferences, joining groups, being about of a research project
- getting great letters of recommendations
- acing the interview
- explaining why your GPA was low and what you learned
- focusing on strengths
Learn more about how you can get into graduate school with a low GPA.