How to Get into Dartmouth with Average Grades

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Darthmouth building

How to Get into Dartmouth with Average Grades

For high school students interested in applying to some of the best colleges and universities in the country, they may feel as though their grade point average will leave them on the outside looking in.

However, having an average GPA compared to other applicants to even the most prestigious schools should not necessarily be seen as a non-starter! In fact, there are many students that have been able to get into great schools with comparatively average grade point averages.

So, if you are wondering how to get into Dartmouth with average grades, then you have absolutely come to the right place!

At AdmissionSight, we make it our number one goal to help the high school students that we work with every single year get into the schools of their dreams. For many of the students that we work with, those dream schools include Ivy League schools like Dartmouth. Part of helping our students get into these incredibly competitive schools is offering them crucial information so that they can use that information to their best advantage to overcome the weaknesses in their application profile and enhance their strengths.

Female student smiling with her classmates.

To be clear – getting into a school as prestigious as Dartmouth is hard even for students with great grade point averages. No GPA on its own is ever going to be enough to convince an admissions committee at this kind of school. With that being said, having a great GPA definitely can make the road a bit easier.

If you are curious about getting into Dartmouth with average grades or how difficult it is to get into Dartmouth, simply continue reading to learn all the important facts! Let’s get started!

Dartmouth admissions requirements

An important place for any student to begin when they have identified a top school as their top choice is to learn about what the school requires or expects from students that apply. Of course, knowing what a school expects from its applicants is a great start to figuring out how to impress even the most competitive schools.

With that in mind, it is important to make sure that you are fulfilling the academic expectations of any school that you are applying to as best you can. This not only has to do with the kinds of grades that a student is getting, but also the kinds of classes that they are taking as well.

Two students talking in front of a laptop.

By the time that a student who is planning on applying to Dartmouth is graduating high school, they should make it a priority to have the following number of courses on their high school course list:

  • English – 4 years (preference for writing-intensive courses)
  • Math – 4 years (calculus recommended for STEM majors)
  • Science – 3 years of lab science (four years including physics for engineering majors)
  • History & Social Science – 3 years
  • Foreign Language – 3-4 years of one language (ancient or modern)
  • In addition, most candidates have had some study in the visual or performing arts.

But taking these kinds of classes are far from the only academic expectation that Dartmouth holds for applying students. One very important factor that students should keep in mind is the need to take advanced courses like AP and IB courses.

The main reason why taking these kinds of classes is so important for students who want to get into top schools is that these classes are styled and taught in a way to mimic the style of undergraduate courses. Not only are these kinds of classes more advanced and difficult, but they are also taught at a speed similar to that of a college course.

Basically, if a student is taking a lot of advanced classes in high school and getting solid grades, admissions officers at a school like Dartmouth will feel confident in that student’s ability to excel in the classroom at the next level.

Now that these academic basics have been clarified, let’s get more into the nitty gritty of what admissions officers at Dartmouth expect when it does come to a student’s grades and standardized test scores.

These are especially important for students who are curious about how to get into Dartmouth with average grades.

Average GPA and standardized tests scores for students at Dartmouth

For many years, the most important factors when it comes to a student’s ability to get into a top school are grades and standardized test scores. Grades are still – without a doubt – the most important single factor is still a student’s grade point average.

The importance of standardized test scores has changed dramatically in recent years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’ll get into that in a little later. First off, let’s break down the numbers and scores associated with the average GPA for students that get into Dartmouth as well as the average SAT and ACT scores.

College student looking away from the camera.

The reason why knowing the averages is because it allows students to see where they might hypothetically stand compared to other students that are applying their year.

The average grade point average for students that get into Dartmouth is a very competitive 4.11 GPA. From this, you can ascertain that in order to have a solid chance of getting into Dartmouth, you are going to want to be at the top of your high school’s class. On top of this, you are going to want to make sure that you start earning as many A grades as possible from your very first semester in your freshman year to your last semester in your senior year.

Pacing yourself in terms of course load and difficulty of your curriculum is a major factor to keep in mind so that you can manage a balance of taking advanced courses while also not burning yourself out.

After knowing this, you may be wondering how any student with an average grade point average could get into Dartmouth. The truth is that if your GPA is truly average, perhaps something close to a C or B average, you have very little chance of getting into any top school. However, having relatively average grades compared to other applicants at Dartmouth doesn’t hurt your chances completely.

One great way to overcome a comparatively average grade point average in high school is to get stellar standardized test scores.

When it comes to the SAT, the average score for students that get in is an incredible 1500 out of the perfect score of 1600. The 25th percentile score is a 1450 and the 75th percentile score is a 1550. That should give you a fairly accurate range of scores that you are going to want to target when you take the test yourself.

As for the ACT, the average score for students that get in is a predictably high 34 out of the perfect score of 36. The 25th percentile ACT score is 32 and the 75th percentile ACT score is 35. That should give you a good range of what kinds of scores you will want to target if you are serious about attending Dartmouth.

Right now, many top colleges and universities in the United States have enacted a standardized test optional policy. At many schools, this began due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What this means is that students do not actually have to send in a standardized test score as a required part of their undergraduate education. That is very different from previous decades in which an SAT or ACT score was required.

This fact may actually help students who are looking to get into Dartmouth with an average GPA. And just to clarify, if you are planning on applying to Dartmouth with an average high school grade point average, you should not consider taking either the SAT or ACT (and getting a truly incredible score) as anything near optional.

The reason for that is because even with the school’s test optional policy, Dartmouth does consider scores to understand an applying student’s academic preparation. Here is what the school says:

“Testing is not the factor in evaluating an application. We look at every applicant in the context of available opportunities and efforts. Testing, in conjunction with your academic record and recommendations helps us better understand your academic preparation.”

It is also important to know that students who send in multiple tests – either the SAT or ACT – the school will accept superscored testing. That means that the school will take your highest score from each individual section, across different tests, to come up with the highest “superscored” test.

Tips to improve your Dartmouth admission chances with average grades

Depending on how far along you are in your high school education, there may be a number of different ways in which you can dramatically improve your chances of getting into Dartmouth or similarly competitive schools.

As you look at these important tips, remember that they will not apply to every student. However, there is no doubt that at least one – if not more – of these tips can help you improve your chances of getting into Dartmouth.

Three students talking while walking.

Here at AdmissionSight, we consider it an important job to help not only the students that we are working with, but also the students who are simply looking to improve their chances of getting into the schools of their dreams. So, if any of these tips help you improve your chances of getting into a school like Dartmouth College, then we will consider it a job well done.

Now, let’s get started on the ways that high school students can improve their chances of getting into Ivy League schools such as Cornell with average grades.

Tip No. 1 Improve your grade point average

This may seem like a strange tip for students that are trying to figure out how to get into Dartmouth with average grades, but the simple truth is that it is easier to get into a great school if your high school grade point average is improved. Of course, this tip only applies to students who still have time to improve their high school GPA.

For example, If you are a student who still has their entire junior year of high school ahead of you, improved performance in the classroom can make a huge difference. That is especially true because the sophomore and junior years are perceived to be two most important years in the eyes of admissions officers.

Still though, even if you only have your senior year left, putting in the work to improve your GPA even minorly will give you that much better of a chance at getting into your dream school!

Here are some great ways that students can improve their grade point averages:

  • Seek support from a teacher, peer or tutor to get the help that they need in the classes that they are struggling most in.
  • Take an easier course load to lighten the stress and demands of their curriculum. While Ivy League schools certainly value seeing advanced courses on a student’s course list, too many advanced courses can end up spelling trouble for even the most intelligent students.
  • Increase your course load with classes that you are most confident and comfortable in to help you earn many high grades.

Tip No. 2 Get help from your letters of recommendation

At Dartmouth, students who apply as undergraduates are required to send in three letters of recommendation (two from separate members of their high school’s faculty and one from their high school counselor) and are encouraged to send in a fourth known as a peer recommendation. Here are snippets of what the school is looking for in each type or recommendation letter:

  • A counselor evaluation (or recommendation) is a written statement, completed by the applicant’s school counselor or school official, that addresses the applicant’s academic performance, extracurricular engagements, and personal character.
  • A teacher evaluation (or recommendation) is a written statement, completed by an instructor* from an academic course, that addresses the applicant’s academic performance, engagement with the course subject matter and classmates, and personal character. It may include other topics, based on individual circumstances.
  • A peer recommendation is a written statement of support for the applicant’s candidacy, completed by anyone the applicant considers a peer. It should not be someone who is in a supervisory or oversight role in the applicant’s life. A few examples are a classmate or teammate; brother, sister, or cousin; a co-worker; a friend met at summer school or summer camp; lab or debate partner.

These descriptions from the school itself make it clear just how impactful these letters really can be. Students who have less-than-stellar grade point averages can gain a lot of help from teachers, counselors and peers who are willing to vouch for them and help explain why they are fully worthy of a spot at Dartmouth despite their GPA.

Teachers can explain any circumstances that could have led the student to struggling in the classroom for a period of time and can also do a lot to praise the student for their intelligence, hard work and leadership qualities in the classroom.

Tip No. 3 Write convincing and relevant personal essays

Students who are applying to top schools with average grades may feel the urge to try to not mention their grade point average in the hopes that the school will simply focus on all the other stellar aspects of their application profile. However, there is certainly something to be said about facing your academic struggles head on and discussing them in your personal essays. This is especially true if your grades suffered during a specific amount of time due to an unexpected life event.

Students answering a test on a classroom.

Whether your family is going through a tough time, you dealt with something difficult within your social group, you moved schools, or anything else, if you feel as though these factors led to your to struggle in school, you should absolutely discuss them honestly and maturely in your personal essay.

In recent years, a lot of students have struggled academically due to COVID-19. If you feel as though this is the case for you, you may want to explain who the pandemic and remote learning had an impact on your academic performance.

It is important to note that talking about these life events should not be seen as excuses and you should not describe them as excuses. Instead, these essays offer you a chance to take responsibility for your academic struggles and explain what was going on outside the classroom that impacted your own struggles.

Taking responsibility and being aware of the hardships you faced and admitting that you could have responded better to them as a young person and student will show an amazing amount of humility and maturity and could very likely impress the admissions officers looking over your application.

We can help you improve your chances of getting into Dartmouth

No one said it would be easy, but if you are determined to get into Dartmouth despite an average high school GPA, it is certainly possible. AdmissionSIght can help. Contact us today to set up a free consultation so we break down what we will do for you to improve your chances of getting into this fantastic institution.





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