I'm a mostly A student, but I got a C in math in 10th grade. Am I doomed?

No, you are not doomed. The errant C on a student's transcript, in and of itself, does not preclude admission (and even if it did, you would not be doomed; "doom" is a pretty strong word).

In any case, we read each student's transcript and school profile closely to determine to what extent the student has challenged him/herself given what is available and what his/her interests are. Then we look closely at how the student has performed in each subject. In the case you describe, we will seek to understand what contributed to the C grade and to see how your performance has progressed since you received this grade. These two latter points are critical to the role that this grade will play in your overall evaluation. Each year, we admit quite a few students who do not have straight A grades. As you will glean from other posts in our blogs, it is our holistic understanding of the candidacy and how it fits within the context of our applicant pool as a whole that determines the outcome. One grade in one class is but one piece that will contribute to this holistic understanding.


Sarah said...

I'm glad you covered this, Paul. One of my favorite students had this concern regarding a 'C' in his senior year, and he almost didn't apply to Dartmouth because of it! I think his situation was one that many people can relate to - he was taking AP Calculus, a course that was already challenging for him, and there was an unexpected staffing change in the middle of the first semester...anyway, the moral of the story is that he was an amazing applicant, and this one glitch in his academic career didn't change the overall story that his application told.

Christina said...

I have a question regarding the review process of an applicant's grades. In my high school, especially for English classes, the two teachers have dramatically different standards of marking. And the class averages were more than ten percent in difference. In my case, I happen to have the "harder" teacher three years in a roll. How do the admission officers address the possible discrepancy in the grading standards?

Paul said...

When there are notable grading pattern differences within a particular secondary school, we typically get information about this from the school's profile (many profiles include grading pattern information) and/or from the applicant's guidance counselor recommendation. If your experience has included a notable variance in grading from one teacher to the next, chances are that your guidance counselor is already aware of this. If not, you way want to raise this topic with him/her.

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