Can one D in freshman year prevent me for gaining admission into Ivy League universities?
I am aiming for Ivy League and top tier universities like Stanford. I received a 66% or a D in a second language course because my teacher neglected all grades in online school and only chose the "ungraded" quiz we had on the first day to put on our transcript. All my other grades in freshman year were good, 2 Bs (85-89%) and 5 As (90%-95%) range. In the start of sophomore year, I have started working really hard and all 4 of my complete subjects have been 95+. Will this one D prevent me from getting into Ivy League and top tier universities?
In short—No. ...but certainly not good.
Though a “D” is definitely not something you want, it won’t immediately eliminate you from admissions. Ivy League schools look for leadership personality and this can only be somewhat surmised through GPA and standardized testing (I assume the rest of your grades are A’s w/ competitive classes and a 99th percentile SAT and ACT). What could offset that “D” is with extraordinary extracurriculars such as “research alongside a postdoc” and/or “publishing papers or books” and/or other HIGH tier EC’s—this will add to the holistic approach to who you are. In other words, Ivy League schools view you as more than a letter grade.
In the case if Stanford, the average GPA accepted is a 4.18 on a 4.0 scale: “ Stanford University is a holistic institution with no GPA or standardized course requirements. But the estimated average high-school required GPA is around 4.18. The chances are 3.75, plus, good; 3.5-3.75, average plus; 3.25-3.5 average minus; 3-3.24, possible; and below 3, low.” (https://www.mbacrystalball.com/universities/stanford-university/) Keep in mind that “ Over 44,000 people apply for undergraduate seats at Stanford, but only about 2,200 are accepted, and over 1,700 are enrolled.” This amounts to their absurdity of an acceptance rate at 4.4%. Similar Ivy’s and Ivy+ schools see similar trends.
The case of 2020 (does not pertain to you solely but here for anyone): Something new to consider (but probably won’t be published till after this admissions cycle)—the affect of COVID-19 in all of this. Though not to be highly optimistic, but some native and international students may be deterred to apply for the traveling during this time is not viable for familial circumstances. It would seem appropriate to predict that the acceptance rate may increase for this admissions cycle because less people may be applying due to the circumstances in every part of the world, not to mention, the United States.
The explanation: So you got a “D” in a language class. This is definitely not good, for language classes are a requirement for any four-year undergraduate institution. But not to be discouraged, you have an opportunity with the amount of essays available on the common app as well as supplemental essays. Here are some helpful sites: (https://www.collegetransitions.com/blog/7-ways-to-address-a-bad-grade-on-your-college-application/), (https://www.shemmassianconsulting.com/blog/common-app-additional-information-section), And (https://www.collegeessayguy.com/blog/common-app-additional-info-guide-examples). Also, this site “CollegeVine” specifically says: “Don't use your personal essay to explain a bad grade unless there is another reason for doing so. For example, if you experienced a traumatic car accident during your junior year and your grades suffered...” (https://blog.collegevine.com/should-you-explain-a-bad-grade-when-applying-to-college/)
I’m guessing you’re a sophomore? You have many great years ahead of you. Remember, doing great things outside of the classroom will add to your personal outlook for college. But NEVER load up on EC’s just to impress admissions, they may note this—and sometimes it can have a negative impact. Rather, all-in-all, do the the extracurriculars that are important to you and will give you the best experience—this is what colleges want to see, that you’ve taken initiative in your studies to prepare to set off and soar in this world.
Hope this helps!!