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Does senior spring matter?

May 15, 2019

Congrats! You’re done with applications, chosen your school, and now you’re wondering if you can take your foot off of the gas petal, put your car in cruise control, and coast through the rest of your senior year. After getting that acceptance from a top-tier college or university, even the most disciplined students feel the temptation to relax a bit during senior spring. However, after three-and-a-half years plus of sustaining the level of hard work and discipline it takes to get into top schools, the small but dangerous threat of getting an offer rescinded looms large.

If you let your grades slip too far, transfer from AP classes to easy electives, share offensive content on social media, etc., you may receive a warning letter from your school asking for an explanation. This letter will not lead to rescinded admission as long as it receives an apologetic response, a good explanation, and a subsequent correction of the behavior. However, in a few cases, the letter can put you on academic probation for your freshman year, or ask that you defer for a year and demonstrate renewed commitment to academics. Either way, this warning letter from a will likely cause unnecessary stress for you during a time that should be an enjoyable rest of your high school experience.

There are some cases in which schools do not offer the chance for you to provide an explanation or make some changes to get back on track. In fact, schools will rescind admission with no warning for a few reasons: if you fail or get a D in a class, if it’s discovered you lied on your application, if you go wild during their admitted students weekend, or if you get suspended from school or arrested. As with job applications, arrests for minor traffic violations are not included. If the arrest or disciplinary action was for participation in nonviolent political protest, many colleges have stated they will not rescind admission. If your school has not made a statement to this effect, we advise calling the admissions department before participating. It is important to be smart during your senior year, you’ve (probably) worked incredibly hard to present yourself to colleges in the best way possible over the last few years, and the last thing you want is to do something, say something, or behave in a way that threatens to un-do that.

How can you catch senioritis safely and avoid even a warning? Do everything you’ve done up until this point to get into college in the first place.  Also, regarding academics, here’s what we tell our students: you will not hear from your college for a drop of less than one full letter grade. Yes, even the Ivies. This gives you a margin of two ticks to play with: a subject where on average you get A’s can slip to B+, an A- to a B, a B+ to a  B-, and a B to a C+ (but remember not to get more than one or two C’s). Dropping more than one AP class is also a risky move.

The truth is, by this point you most likely have developed a strong understanding of the time and effort you need to put in to maintain solid academic standing in each of your classes. If you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t need to pull all-nighters or study the whole weekend during senior spring. That being said, there’s a big difference between skipping an assignment here and there and skipping a week of class. Read your class syllabus carefully and figure out what tests and assignments are most important to your grade and stay engaged. All in all, make good choices, don’t slack off, but get some sleep and don’t stress out too much.

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