How to Get Into Yale With Average Grades

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Various students at the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University.

How to Get Into Yale With Average Grades

One of the best schools in the entire United States is Yale University. Yale has hundreds of years of history worth of excellence and leadership in nearly every academic discipline. For that reason, it should not come as a surprise that Yale is one of the most competitive and selective schools in the country.

Because of the level of difficulty that comes with trying to get into Yale, many high school students wonder each application cycle how to get into Yale with average grades.

While having an average grade point average will certainly diminish a student’s chances of getting into even the easiest Ivy League to get into, it is not impossible for certain students to get the chance to say, “I got into Yale with bad grades.”

But what does it take to become one of those students, beat the odds of the Yale acceptance rate and get into one of the hardest Ivy League to get into despite having average grades ?

At AdmissionSight, we have years of experience when it comes to helping students maximize their strengths and overcome their weaknesses to beat some of the toughest acceptance rates in the country. It’s why 75 percent of the high school students that we work with end up gaining admissions to either an Ivy League school like Yale or a top-10 program elsewhere in the country.

Aerial view of the historical building and Yale University campus.

And while our number one priority is making sure all of our students accomplish their college admissions goals, we also want to help every high school student out there who is looking to get into top schools make their dream a reality.

That is why we have decided to break down how to get into Yale with average grades. While there, of course, no guaranteed way for any student to get into Yale – even students with perfect grade point averages – but there are definitely tools and techniques that students can utilize in order to improve their chances overall.

So, without further delay, let’s get into what a student can do to increase the chances that they will be able to say, “I got into Yale with bad grades.”

Yale admissions requirements

Before we go into what high school students can do to improve their chances of getting into Yale with average grades, we think it is crucial that students get a better understanding of what the typical requirements – or expectations – that admissions officers at Yale hold for high school students that apply to the school year in and year out.

A seated student holding pencil and writing on paper.

While Yale does not have a list of required courses that students should take in high school, the school and its admissions officers absolutely look for certain courses on any given high schooler’s course list from high school. The kinds of courses that high school students should aim to take include:

  • English: four years, with significant emphasis on writing and literature.
  • Mathematics: four years of any rigorous mathematics incorporating a solid grounding in fundamental skills (algebra, geometry, trigonometry). We also welcome preparation in skills related to statistics, data science and calculus.
  • History/Social Studies: three or more years, with courses that include the writing of essays.
  • Science: three or more years of laboratory science (including biology, chemistry and physics).
  • Foreign Language: three or more years of the same foreign language.

Moreover, Yale likes to see that students perform well in those courses. On top of that, one really important consideration that every high school student needs to make if they have goals of attending a top school like Yale is how many advanced courses they will take throughout their high school years.

Advanced courses such as honors classes, AP classes or IB classes are basically a requirement for students who are planning on applying to schools like Yale. The reason for this is quite clear once you think about it.

Essentially, schools like Yale are known to have incredibly demanding and competitive classes. The students who attend these kinds of schools are highly intelligent, incredibly driven and are always looking to separate themselves from the pack.

Moreover, the professors at these kinds of schools are quite regularly world leaders in their fields. As a result of that, they expect a lot out of all of their students and do not concern themselves with hand holding. Of course, college professors are meant to be supportive and helpful whenever possible, but they also expect students to come in with proven tools and strategies to succeed in the classroom.

So what does all this have to do with taking advanced courses in high school? Basically, admissions officers at schools like Yale use a student’s history of taking courses like AP and IB classes, as well as their performance in those classes, as a measuring stick in terms of how to predict how a student would perform at Yale if they were to get accepted.

Lots of A grades in advanced AP courses is going to give admissions officers at Yale a lot of confidence that a student will be able to perform similarly at Yale.

The other reason why students will want to take advanced courses in high school also has to do with the average grade point average that high school students who get into Yale earn. Overall, the GPA of accepted high school students is a truly impressive 4.19 GPA. This average GPA tells us a few really important things.

First off, the fact that the average GPA is a weighted GPA means that the vast majority of accepted students at Yale are taking lots of advanced courses. We know this because only advanced courses are graded on a weighted 5.0 scale rather than the typical 4.0 scale.

A 4.19 average means that the average student who gets accepted to Yale is not only taking advanced courses, but performing well in them. Students that are above average are very likely taking as many advanced courses as they possibly can in high school and earning all A grades.

The other important thing to glean from this average number is that when we say, “How to get into Yale with average grades,” it is important to remember that the word average is relative. The average GPA at your high school is surely a lot lower than the average GPA that students who get into Yale earn.

While it is certainly possible to get into Yale with a GPA lower than the average 4.19, that number is an important one for students who want to get into Yale to remember during high school and as they begin to craft their list of schools that they want to apply to for their undergraduate education.

Finally, it is important that any student interested in attending Yale know about the school’s incredibly low acceptance rate. While all Ivy League schools are incredibly difficult to get into, there is an easiest Ivy League to get into as well as a hardest Ivy League to get into. So where does Yale land on that spectrum?

Pretty firmly near the “hardest to get into” category. Take a look at the graph below to get a sense of Yale’s acceptance rate from the most recent application cycle and how it compares to the seven other Ivy League schools.

Table with information about Ivy league students.

As you can see, Yale is part of the cluster of four schools, including Columbia University, Harvard University and Princeton University, that are harder than the rest of the schools in the Ivy League by a fairly wide margin. In any given year, depending on an array of different factors, any of these four schools can prove to be the hardy Ivy League to get into.

In fact, Princeton, Yale and Harvard have long been known as the Ivy League’s “Big Three” as they are the three most selective, prestigious and historical schools in both the Ivy League and the United States entirely!

Lately, Columbia has very clearly started to make an argument that the “Big Three” should now be considered a “Big Four.” However, if you know anything about the Ivy League, you probably know that it is an institution that takes its own history very seriously. For that reason, no matter how selective and prestigious Columbia becomes, it will always be considered a rung down from Yale, Harvard and Princeton.

As for the Yale acceptance rate, that 4.6 percent from 2021 is – obviously – incredibly low. Truthfully, some of the most prestigious and well-funded programs in the United States even have acceptance rates above 10 percent. So, to see Yale’s sitting under 5.0 percent is a very clear sign of just how much work the school’s admissions office does to make sure that they are accepting the right students into the school each and every application cycle.

Tips to improve Yale admission chances with average grades

So, now that you have a better understanding of what the average admissions expectations are for students who are applying to Yale University, you are probably also curious about how in the world any student can even hope to one day say, “I got into Yale with bad grades.”

Well, we are not going to lie to you. It is not easy. In fact, for even the vast majority of students with great grades, getting into Yale proves to be impossible. The proof of that is clear thanks to the 4.6 percent acceptance rate.

With that being said, getting into an Ivy League school is not impossible with average grades, and there are some pretty effective ways that students can boost their chances of getting into any school.

Keep in mind, these tips apply specifically to students who are already on the cusp of beginning their college applications. For students who are still in the early days of their high school years, say with just a semester or two behind them, the easiest and most effective way to boost your chances of getting into any top school is to put your head down, hit the books hard and boost your GPA with the remaining time that you have left in high school. After all, your GPA is going to be the prime factor in whether or not you get into the school of your dreams.

However, if that opportunity has passed you by, here is what you can do: try to overcome your average GPA and get into one one of the most prestigious schools in not only the United States, but also the entire world!

Take advantage of early admissions at Yale

For students that are interested in applying to some of the best schools in the country, taking advantage of early admissions options is a crucial tool that must be investigated. Essentially, there are two different kinds of early admissions options, and the specific way in which they work depends entirely on the school that is offering the option.

Students sitting on the grass at the Yale University campus.

The two options are known as Early Decision and Early Action. When applying to Yale, students can take advantage of the school’s Single-Choice Early Action program (otherwise known as Restrictive Early Action). When it comes to applying to Yale via Single-Choice Early Action, there are some really important rules and restrictions that students need to know about. Here are the most important rules to keep in mind:

  • You may apply to any college’s non-binding rolling admission program.
  • You may apply to any public institution at any time, provided that admission is non-binding.
  • You may apply to another college’s Early Decision II program, but only if the notification of admission occurs after January 1. If you are admitted through another college’s Early Decision II binding program, you must withdraw your application from Yale.
  • You may apply to another college’s Early Action II program.
  • You may apply to any institution outside of the United States at any time.

Perhaps what is most important to know, however, is that if Yale is your number one choice over all other schools, there is absolutely no reason not to apply via Early Action. The prime reason for that is because students that apply via Early Action at Yale have a much more favorable acceptance rate compared to students that apply via regular admissions.

Take a look at the graph above that breaks down the different acceptance rates for the eight Ivy League schools. While the overall acceptance rate last year was 4.6 percent and the regular decision acceptance rate was an even more restrictive 4.0 percent, the early admissions acceptance rate at Yale was 10.6 percent! From that statistic alone, it should be clear just how valuable applying to Yale via early admissions can be.

Seek out incredible letters of recommendation

Another valuable tool that high school students with average grades can utilize if they are hoping to overcome their GPA and get into Yale are the letters of recommendation that they will have to send in as part of their application.

For students who want to apply to Yale, they will have to send in three total letters of recommendation. One letter comes from the applying student’s high school counselor, while the other two come from two members of the high school’s faculty. Yale recommends that students get those letters from teachers who have taught them during their junior or senior years of high school.

A person holding a pen and writing on a notebook.

So, why are these letters so valuable and why can they help a student overcome average grades? Essentially, these letters are meant to help admissions officers understand why a student would be a great fit at the school. They can also be used to – for example – explain why a student did not perform as well as they could have or should have in their courses. These letters can be used as character references as well as an explanation tool that can help a student overcome their lackluster high school grade point average.

Craft phenomenal personal essays

The final tip that students should take into consideration to overcome an average GPA and get into Yale is to craft truly incredibly personal essays. These days, personal essays are considered to be one of the most important aspects of any student’s application.

In fact, now that standardized tests are optional at many top schools, the personal essay section is widely considered to be the second most important factor behind only a student’s GPA. If you have any hope of overcoming an average GPA and proving that you are deserving of admissions to Yale, it will be thanks to your personal essays.

When you are crafting your ideas for your essays, here are some important questions to ask yourself:

What are your strengths and weaknesses inside and out of the classroom?

  • What are your key themes?
  • What is your inciting incident?
  • What do you want to communicate?

Finally, using your personal essays as a way to explain why your GPA is not as strong as it otherwise could or should be can also work in your favor. That is especially true if your grades suffered because of an illness, a tragedy in your family or family instability, or some other unforeseen circumstance. While you do not want to come off as someone who makes excuses, there is nothing wrong with putting your less-than-stellar grades into context of your life overall.

We can help you improve your chances of getting into Yale

Getting into Yale is hard for any student, and it’s even more difficult for students who do not end up with stellar GPAs in high school. However, just because it is hard does not mean that it is impossible. If you want to learn more about how you can improve your chances of getting into Yale with an average GPA, contact AdmissionSight today to set up a free consultation.

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