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High School Senior Year for College Admission

High School Senior Year for College Admission

As senior year draws closer, many students ask us whether their grades, performance, and involvement during their final year of high school really matter, since Early Admissions college applications are due before the end of the first semester, and all applications are due before the end of the year. Their thought process is that colleges will have made their decisions before any formal reports about their academic performance are released by their high school. So, does your performance during senior year still affect your admissions chances? Should you take it easy before college? Read this article to learn more about the true importance of the last year.
High School Mid-Year Report

When you apply for Early Decision or Early Action, your guidance counselor will submit a High School Mid Year Report, informing the colleges that you’ve applied to of your performance during the first half of your senior year and your mid-year transcript.

The mid-year report includes your GPA, class rank (if applicable), and an official transcript. The purpose of this report is to inform college admissions officers of any changes in grades, performance, or academic progress from the previous year to the current semester.

The High School Mid-year Report offers little benefit to ED/EA students because they already know if they were accepted before mid-year reports can be released (typically, the mid-year report deadline is in February). However, you should still be aware that if your mid-year report shows any drastically dropping grades or other issues at school, this may cause admission officers to re-evaluate their judgment and sometimes even rescind any offer letters.

The mid-year report from high schools is particularly important for regular admission students, especially those who submit their applications after February. Submitting the report alongside your application can give you an advantage over other applicants if the report is positive and emphasizes any improvements, academic and sports achievements, and showcases you as an outstanding student. Alternatively, having a bad mid-year report can significantly decrease your chances of admission.

Spring Semester of High School Senior Year

High school seniors often slack off during the spring semester because they already know which schools they were accepted to during Early Decision/Early Action. The spring semester is when most senior students lack the motivation to keep their grades up or stay up all night finishing a homework assignment, and we understand that. However, in addition to mid-year reports, counselors and academic advisors will send the colleges you’re accepted to end-of-year reports, including your grades and academic performance during the second semester. As we mentioned, colleges can rescind your acceptance letter if your performance isn’t up to their expectations. You may have to meet with college admission officers one-on-one to discuss the reasoning behind your slacking.

We strongly encourage students to study in class like normal to prevent any negative consequences, as it’s better to be safe than sorry. Another reason that you should keep up with your schoolwork during your senior year is to earn honors for your class ranking, or even the Valedictorian spot. If your grades are at the top every year, and you are aiming for the valedictorian spot, you should keep your grades up even in 12th grade. You may think you have done well enough in your freshman, sophomore, and junior years, so those will balance out any low scores during your senior year. However, this is not true, because any competition that you had for the spot can pull ahead of you with good grades and take that spot away from you.

Earning the valedictorian or other top positions in your class benefits you for more reasons than just the title. Many public universities will grant tuition waivers if you have a valedictorian title at the end of high school. For example, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education offers high school valedictorians tuition waivers at any public higher education institution in Massachusetts. And even if you don’t take the top spot in your class, other high scores or rankings in high school gives you access to specified financial aid opportunities like tuition waivers and scholarships in your state or country.

In addition to academic performance, you should not ignore your involvement in extracurricular activities. If you are currently on a club’s executive board, you have the responsibility as an executive member to keep the club running smoothly and choose the next board member to replace you when you graduate. Staying in a leadership position can also help you academically. If you ever decide to apply for scholarships during your first year in college or any honor society, you may need your high school coaches to write you a letter of recommendation; so staying consistent in these relationships is essential.

What if you are on the waitlist for some colleges?

We have been discussing the perfect scenario where students are accepted into their dream schools during the ED/EA application round, but what about waitlisted students? Being on a waitlist can be a frustrating experience, especially since colleges sometimes do not notify you when you are taken off the waitlist and they make a final decision. In such cases, we suggest that you finish your last year strong, both academically and in terms of extracurricular activities, while constantly updating the college admission officer about your qualifications and reinforcing your interest in enrolling at the school.

Overall, performing well during your senior year, especially in the spring semester, is crucial for every senior student at any point in the application process. Your last year in high school is the last checkpoint before college for you to do your best and receive valuable recognition from your school, earn scholarships, and feel the pride of graduating with honors that will give you a smooth transition right into your dream college! Welcome to college, high school graduates! 

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