Weighted vs. Unweighted GPA

Donna Enayati argues for unweighted grade point averages, Lyla Kavanagh argues for the five-point A

With an increased focus on college admissions, the debate between weighted and unweighted grade point average (GPA) has become more heated than ever. Unweighted GPA is a number out of 4.0, without taking into account honors and AP classes. However, weighted GPA validates the difficulty of classes. Five years after Harvard-Westlake removed weighted GPA from report cards, Spectrum revisits the debate and offers a fresh perspective with students who’ve never had the opportunity to have a weighted GPA.

Unweighted GPA

Opinion by Donna Enayati

Weighted GPA adds additional pressure that isn’t necessary or productive to students. By reinstating weighted GPA, students feel that the pressure to take harder courses simply for resume building is lifted. It may even discourage students from pursuing their interests and refrain from taking elective courses.

“I feel very strongly that unweighted GPA frees students up to experience more non honors, non AP courses…If we were to reinstate weighted GPA, enrollment in elective courses might suffer,” Jen Bladen, Yearbook / Journalism Teacher and Communications Department Head said.

In addition, this relieves the pressure given to students who are aiming for valedictorian, taking away the stress of taking as many APs and honors courses in order to become valedictorian. HW, a school known for its rigorous academics and high-rankings, already challenges students. Additionally, sports, electives, clubs, and their lives outside of school are reasons for additional pressure to not be placed on students. In the past decade Harvard-Westlake has taken several steps to prevent students from burning out such as instating free periods, not posting class rank, and restructuring its schedule on both campuses. By reinstating weighted GPA, the school would be damaging the progress it has already made.

“I prefer an unweighted GPA,” Samaya Sayana-Manchanda ’26 said. “If you try extremely hard in a weighted class and end up burning out to the point where you are doing worse in the class, this will hurt your overall GPA if it’s weighted.”

Weighted GPA

Opinion by Lyla Kavanagh

Honors and AP students continue to take these classes whether or not weighted GPA plays a role in their grades. As students are keenly aware of, many colleges will look at their transcript and weigh their GPA, taking into account honors and APs. Originally, taking away weighted GPA was meant to prevent students from enrolling in honors and APs for solely the grade boost. Unweighted GPA was intended to reduce stress and force students to take classes for the content and their areas of interest. Instead, students continue to take the same difficult classes for the same reasons unweighted GPA is meant to discourage.

“I like my honors classes and the people in them, but why would I take an honors class if I’m not going to pursue that profession or major in that field? It’s because I want my transcript to look good for college,” Ellika LeSage ’26 said.

Students who take classes that are theoretically eligible for a GPA boost take the class regardless of whether or not Harvard-Westlake weighs their GPA.