Does Senior Year Matter?

You’ve hit “submit” and the stress of the last 4 months has quickly lifted from your shoulders. All of the essays, interviews, and standardized tests are done and you can now sit back and coast through the rest of your senior year. You’re confident that your 3.8 end-of-junior year GPA will make you an attractive, and qualified candidate for admission to the schools you’ve got your eyes set on. The decision you made to hold off on Calculus until this year was smart since the D you’re currently getting won’t matter to the admission committee. As long as you pass the class and graduate you’ll be in the clear…right?

Think again.

Many students are under an incorrect impression that colleges will not take into consideration their senior year grades since they are “in progress". The reality is that EVERY offer of admission is conditional. Colleges and universities admit students with the caveat that you are required to finish your senior year demonstrating the same level of achievement as that which you presented with your application materials. Each year there are students who receive the unexpected news that their offers of admission have been revoked. Yes, this CAN and does happen.

A few years ago the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) conducted a study that still holds relevance today. The study showed that more than 20% of colleges indicated that they had revoked an offer of admission with the main reason being poor final grades. We asked a few folks from the college-side to share advice for seniors as they head into the second half of the school year. Here’s what they had to say:

“Yes, Admissions Counselors want you to have fun your senior year, BUT this fun shouldn’t come at the expense of your studies. We want to see students who will be able to balance their time in college.” – Grace Marchena, Admissions Counselor, Lafayette College (PA)

“While senior year is supposed to be fun and exciting, it is important for students to maintain their good grades. Although you may have hit submit or have received an answer from your number one school, colleges and universities will request to see your final grades and transcripts. So whether or not you are preparing for the pep rally or making weekend plans with friends, be sure to keep school at the forefront!”– Rebecca Drewry, Admissions Representative, College of Charleston (SC)

“You’ll hear from colleges that junior year grades are very important, but it’s your senior year work ethic and success that often sets the groundwork for how well you will do academically at the college level. In my experience, colleges admit you with the expectation that you will continue to put forth the same amount of effort in the classroom throughout senior year, so continue to stay motivated and finish strong!” – Laura Pitney, Assistant Director of Admission, Wittenberg University (OH)

“It is important that seniors fight their ‘senioritis’ and finish strong academically. With the growing competitiveness in college admission, offices can tend to look more closely at performance in the first half of senior year, and also require committed students to submit a final transcript to verify that their grades did not slide significantly. But most importantly, coasting in your senior year can make it much more difficult to start off strong in college. So many students experience their largest academic challenge in the first semester of college, and the best way to save yourself from getting overwhelmed is by keeping up good study habits in your senior year of high school.” – Tom Fenner, Assistant Director of Admission, Wofford College (SC)

As we approach the holiday season remember to keep up the good work at school and resist the urge to just ease through your classes. While it’s important that you take time to enjoy your last few months of school before heading to college, you don’t want to end up with no campus to call home next fall. Finish strong!