Seniors: Keep up the good work

For seniors looking for every last advantage as you submit your applications, here’s a chapter from my book, If the U Fits: Expert Advice on Finding the Right College and Getting Accepted, to help you get–and keep–acceptances from your chosen colleges.

Keep up the good work

“Keep your grades up” often sounds like one of those empty platitudes adults say to seniors who’ve applied to college. In fact, doing so really can make a difference where you get in.

Most private colleges, as well as public schools like the University of Michigan, will ask you to send a seventh semester transcript (also called a “Mid-Year Report”) once you complete the first semester of your senior year. Those grades will be reviewed before the school makes a decision.

Also, if you get wait-listed by a college, they might ask to see your second semester grades from senior year. Since students often aren’t taken off waiting lists until after they graduate from high school, those colleges have the opportunity to look at your entire senior year’s academic work before they make a decision.

Students who are taking Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses, who keep up the good work and score well on their associated exams, can also end up with college credit. That can let you skip certain introductory classes your freshman year and maybe even graduate from college early.

Finally, every college will ask you to send a complete transcript once you’re admitted. They’ll look at both semesters of your senior year to make sure that you finished the classes you told them you were taking and that you kept doing as well as you’d done in the previous years. If you haven’t kept up the good work, they can rescind your offer of admission.

Senior party

I’ve seen students who let the senior party start too early, even straight-A students who ended up getting a couple C’s or a D in their senior year, who lost their admission to their chosen colleges. If it’s not quite such a steep drop, you might still end up starting your freshman year of college on academic probation, which is not a fun place to be.

So really, keep your grades up. If you’ve followed the advice in this book about managing your course load, you shouldn’t be unreasonably burned out and sleepless. Finish strong and you’ll never have to wonder if a little more effort in your last two semesters of high school could have made an admissions difference.