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Expert advice from real admissions officers and college counselors
Issue #18
Are You Acting Like It's Over Before It's Over?
(Seniors, this one's for you.)
So the end is in sight. After years of leaping through hoop after hoop, you are just about done with the long push to get into college. What a great feeling! No one wants to throw cold water on your victory lap, of course, but facts are facts. You are still in high school. You're taking classes, doing homework, and most important, getting grades. If you are tempted to start your post-high-school life a little early, take heed. There are consequences.
What are the signs of "senioritis" and what should seniors do about it?
Are you saying things like, "Who cares? I'm already admitted to college!"? You know who cares? College reps do. We will see your final grades from your senior year. And we have two types of "bad grade" letters ready to go: the "we noticed and we want you to focus when you get here" letter, and the "we noticed and we are rescinding your admission" letter. You don't want either one to arrive in your mailbox! Stay focused. Find ways to stay motivated personally and academically. Try something new — maybe a cooking class, yoga, fencing, or racquetball. Choose whatever will keep your mind engaged.
Maria Furtado
Director of Admission
St. Petersburg, FL
Let's say you sit down to study for exams and see that a really great movie is on TV. You figure you have earned it — why bother to study now? You've finished your applications — it's time to coast, right? Wrong! Although you may have submitted all of your applications, colleges have the right to see later grades and even withdraw admission if there is a significant grade drop.
More important, you are in training for the big leagues — college. The study habits you keep in place now will be going with you next fall. In college, distractions will be everywhere. Your ability to work around them and keep up good grades is what you are training for. Taking a break may sound like fun, but in the long haul you are jeopardizing your next four years. Is it worth it? Of course not.
Susan Hanflik
Certified Education Planner
Cranston, RI
Colleges look at all high school grades, including the eighth semester. Not only might those grades jeopardize your admission, but they could also affect whether you are invited to join a sorority or fraternity, academic organizations, or other social clubs. At some colleges, improving your final high school GPA may result in an increased scholarship award.
David Voskuil
Vice President of Enrollment Service
Georgetown, TX
There are few things as silly as using a medical-sounding name — senioritis — to describe seniors not doing their schoolwork. The last semester of your senior year is certainly an important time and one with many positive transitions. Many seniors bond strongly at this time. They take the risk of getting to know classmates with whom they never had a relationship. It is a time for nostalgic storytelling and letting go of old grudges. It is certainly not, however, a time to stop learning. There are several practical reasons to keep focused on academics, such as keeping your college admission. But more important, you are showing personal integrity by honoring your commitment to the academic life.
Kay Rothman
Director of College Counseling
NYC Lab School
New York, NY
Students, you must fight the urge to ignore homework, skip classes, and stop studying for exams — all signs of senioritis. For those of you who respond best to scare tactics, remind yourself that colleges will request to see your midyear and end-of-year grades. Significant academic decline can cause a college to rescind an offer of admission. Another thing to consider is that the more you learn during senior year, the easier your transition will be as a college freshman. You are setting yourself up for success in college if you fight the ever-tempting senioritis. You can do it!
Erin Hays
Associate Dean of Admission
Spokane, WA
Students should remain vigilant for their entire senior year and understand the severity of the consequences if they slack off. Colleges do rescind admission offers based on poor academic performance during senior year. Acceptance letters generally contain a statement that makes admission contingent on performance through the end of your final year of high school.
Admission offices will check for a drop in grades, significant absenteeism, and changes in course load, such as dropping AP courses. Any disciplinary action is carefully scrutinized as well. If there is a problem toward the end of senior year, students should write or call the admission office to explain any extenuating circumstances before the college receives a final transcript.
Jeannie Borin
Encino, CA
Do you find yourself thinking that now you can let loose and enjoy the rest of your senior year? These thoughts are your first symptoms of a pending outbreak of senioritis. It can get progressively worse, until it becomes a full blown case by May. To keep the breakout under control, treat it at the first warning signs by taking several doses of looking forward to your college freshman year. Then you will be just fine — sailing through the rest of your senior year without any more breakouts.
Cyndy McDonald
Independent College Counselor
Visalia, CA
Graduation Day is the capstone of your high school experience. But it is also the beginning of an even more demanding and intense experience: college. The better you handle your last semester of high school, the more prepared you will be for that next stage of your life. The oncoming few months will take patience, commitment, and willpower. And you will need lots of all three qualities to earn your next diploma — the one you get on your college graduation day!
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About COLLEGEword
Advice provided in COLLEGEword reflects the views of the individual admissions officers and college counselors offering the advice. Information in this newsletter is of a general nature. It is provided for educational purposes only and may not apply to you or your situation.