March Madness! Tips For High School Seniors: Don’t Drop the Ball

The fourth quarter isn't over till the buzzer goes off.

Don’t drop the ball.

Some may call it March Madness, but admissions officers call it senioritis.

Stay on task!

You’ve worked hard, you’ve scored an admission offer, and you’ve earned a break, right? Not so fast. You’re in the fourth quarter, but it isn’t over till the buzzer. This is a critical time to keep up the good work that made you a successful applicant. The colleges you applied to are watching, and don’t think they won’t call foul on falling grades for high school seniors.

Admissions departments are checking mid-year grades, and they’ll be checking your final transcript, too.
 Take a look at the timeline for each college application you’ve submitted to be sure you’re on track for getting your information in, now and after graduation.

But I sent it!

Did you know this is one of the worst times of the year for your school counselor? Hundreds of requests from their high school seniors for mid-year grades processed, and the few that don’t get there spur angry complaints. It’s very rare that a counselor misses a request, so give yours the benefit of the doubt. When thousands of transcripts are going to colleges this time of year, odds are heavier that mail or processing issues (out of your counselor’s hands) are the culprit. This is another one of those hiccups in the process that just happens, no need for fear or anger. College admissions professionals know that items can get lost, and are generally very reasonable about having to ask for missing materials.

So I can just skip sending them, right?

Um, no. If they asked for them, they want them. While they are not likely to assume the worst at first, admissions officers will view obvious reluctance suspiciously. This may be because experience has taught them that no news is not good news when it comes to grade information. Plenty of previous applicants have tried to slide by on the updated grade details.

They wouldn’t really pull my offer, would they?

You’d better believe it. No admissions dean enjoys rescinding an offer of admission, but they will certainly do so. They do it every year. When you read your entire acceptance packet, you will see that offers of admission are conditional upon “continued good academic progress” or similar phrasing. They are not kidding. If you present them with a downward trend, you are leaving them no choice but to take action. Some will send you a warning. Some will withdraw your offer outright.

Is there a bright side here?

Yes! The good news is that this is one of the few steps of the admission process that is entirely up to you. You can make sure you don’t get the dreaded letter just when you thought you were finished. And guess what? The rest of your academic career is pretty much up to you from this point, too. Congratulations! You’re the master of your fate. Go do great things!

Author: Amy Widner

Amy is editor and lead writer at Smart College Visit. After 20 years in corporate and higher education communication, she is delighted to be able to spend more time writing than wrangling.

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