GPA is the most important factor in college admissions. Since more universities are adopting test optional policies, GPA is gaining even greater weight.

As such, students should invest time in their GPAs. Investing time to improve a GPA will pay off. Literally.

But how much will it pay off?

To answer this question, let's determine the ROI, or return on investment, of the GPA.

ROI is a calculation to measure how much an investment yields in return. It's a simple comparison of the initial cost of the investment to the final value of the investment. For example, purchase $100 worth of stock today, and if the value of that stock turns into $125 in the future, your ROI is 25% in ([final value - initial value]/initial value x 100).

Calculating the ROI on GPAs is the same math, but since GPAs are not measured in dollars, we have to make some assumptions:

Assumption #1: Investment = Time. The initial "cost" of an investment in a GPA is not money, but time. Assume that our initial investment, then, is all about time.

Assumption #2: 1 Hour = $20. This second assumption takes a bit of a leap, but hear me out. If time is the investment, a student could choose to spend time studying, working, gaming, watching Netflix, swiping through social media or other. Of all of these, working is the one that yields money. And if the student chooses to work, like babysitting, mowing lawns or getting a part time job, we assume here that 1 hour would pay about $20. Likely less, but maybe more. So let's go with $20.

Assumption #3: Higher GPA = More Merit Aid. This next assumption is actually a fact: the higher a student's GPA, the more scholarship opportunities and merit-based aid are available. However, each college or scholarship program looks at these numbers differently. So the assumption we will make here is that each 0.1 increase in GPA will offer $1,000 more in merit-based aid. In other words, a student applying to a competitive school may get no aid with an unweighted GPA of 3.5, but a similar student with an unweighted 4.0 GPA could earn $5000 a year in aid.

Assumption #4: More Study Time = Higher GPA. Again, this assumption is generally true; if you study more, your grades will go up. But to make this work for our calculations, we are going to assume that one more hour of study time per week will boost the GPA by 0.1 points. This may not be a perfect correlation, but useful nonetheless for our calculation.

With these assumptions in place, let's see what the ROI on GPA is for a typical student. Imagine Darnell, a freshman in high school with a 3.0 GPA. As Darnell thinks about sophomore year, he decides to dedicate five more hours a week of study time to his homework (1 hour per class). With 30 weeks in the school year, that's 150 extra hours in total. So Darnell's initial investment of 150 hours equates to $3,000 (150 x $20).

If Darnell does this, his GPA would jump from a 3.0 to a 4.0. And if he maintains this same GPA his sophomore, junior and senior years, he could finish high school with a 3.75 GPA. This would mean he could qualify for $7,500/year in merit-based aid or scholarships.

Thus, his ROI would be 150%!

OK, yes, there are more assumptions to Darnell's situation but hopefully the point is clear: generally, any investment in GPA will be a positive ROI. Or more concretely: time invested in GPA improvement will literally pay off.

Perhaps Darnell needs a tutor to ensure that huge GPA jump. No fear here because the investment would still pay off. Even if he decides to spend $100 a week in tutoring, his ROI would still be 25%. Not even Warren Buffett, the "Oracle of Omaha", can sustain a 25% ROI!

So maximize the ROI of your GPA but putting in the time. And invest in productive time. Spend an extra hour organizing content, create online flashcards, reread material, look up alternative sources or perspectives, research ideas more, review past tests or find other ways to learn more about what you are studying.

And if you need a tutor to help with this, CROSSWALK is here to help.

Study time is worth the investment. Maximize the ROI of your GPA with the investment of time.