I'm currently a college senior and I'm working on updating my resume. My GPA is a 3.46. Is it acceptable/ethical to put on my resume that my GPA is a 3.5?
I agree with the other answers, which say that you shouldn't round a GPA of 3.46 to 3.5. Here's the reasoning I see behind this:
One scenario is that someone may be using a sharp cutoff (for example, a graduate fellowship that requires a 3.5 GPA). Then fine distinctions could matter, and everyone will be better off if your ineligibility is discovered early on. I consider sharp GPA cutoffs foolish, but unfortunately they are not as rare as they should be.
For anyone who is not committed to such a cutoff, there's no significant difference between 3.46 and 3.5, and logically it shouldn't really matter. On the other hand, there's a psychological difference, of the same sort as the difference between $9.99 and $10.00. The reason why rounding to 3.5 is appealing is that it crosses a psychological threshold that sounds better, but that's exactly why it's problematic. You don't want your resume to come across as manipulative, and that's what 3.5 looks like to me. I think "If your GPA were 3.52, you would report the extra digit to demonstrate that it was over 3.5, so a reported GPA of 3.5 means it's more likely something like 3.46. This candidate is probably trying to manipulate me by rounding the GPA to make it sound better." I wouldn't reject someone over GPA rounding, or consider it truly dishonest, but I wouldn't read the application as cheerfully or charitably as I might have otherwise.
For a more dramatic example, rounding 3.96 to 4.0 will look even more manipulative, since 4.0 has the special significance of meaning straight A's. I don't think anyone cares as much about 3.5 as a threshold, but it still signifies more A's than B's.
Note that rounding down is probably not in your interests either. If you round 3.44 to 3.4, then people may still assume you are rounding up from something like 3.36. It might not look as bad (since 3.4 is a less noteworthy threshold than 3.5), but you are still better off sticking with 3.44.
So how many digits should you use? If your school reports an official GPA, then I'd recommend using the same number of digits they use. Two digits is pretty standard, and I don't recall having seen more than three.
Ethically, it is always best to round down slightly. If your GPA is 3.46251, I would specify it as 3.46. There isn't a big difference between 3.46 and 3.47, but 3.47 would be embellishing slightly, and that is not honorable.
It would be honorable to round it down to 3.4, but it has the air of fact falsification to round it up to 3.5.
The only possible case, where rounding it up to 3.5 maybe would be acceptable is the hypothetical case where you must choose from several options such as 3.0, 3.5, etc.