Attention all seniors! Welcome back from a summer that I hope you found to be both relaxing and enriching. I trust that in addition to soaking up the sun and seeing another part of the world, whether it be a foreign country or the inner workings of a company, you also began at least preliminary work on your college applications. Congratulations to those of you who may even have one or two applications under your belts!.While you're certainly entitled to celebrate the completion of your applications, don't fall prey to treating senior year like one long party.
Beware of the dreaded disease called "senioritis," an unofficial yet highly contagious case of "slacking off" that plagues many high school seniors. The college you choose will eventually receive your final semester grades and if they are significantly lower than the rest of your transcript, it could jeopardize your offer of admission. All college acceptance letters clearly state that your offer is contingent on your maintaining the same level of academic and personal excellence that made you such a strong applicant in the first place.
So whatever you do, don't slack off, either academically or personally. Don't give them any reason to change their minds. In fact, senior year provides a crucial opportunity to prove that you can handle the rigors of a selective college.
I am often asked the question, "Can I drop a course or take an easier load senior year? Haven't I already proved myself enough through my junior year?" The answer, unfortunately, is no. Senior year should actually be your most rigorous academic year yet?if anything, we recommend stepping up the number of honors and AP classes. Senior year is also a time to think about studying for an AP independently. By self-studying for an AP exam, you can demonstrate an extra commitment to your area of interest that will be impressive to colleges. Additionally, you have much more freedom to pursue study in a subject area that truly interests you.
Here's an interesting scenario: We had a student last year who applied to her #1 choice, Harvard, through their Single-Choice Early Action option. She had actually lightened her courseload senior year: Despite the fact that English was her passion and her strength area, she decided to drop English altogether during her senior year, having already fulfilled her high school's English requirements. She was deferred into Harvard's regular applicant pool, left to wait until April for the final word.The agony of waiting for her decision grew more and more intense. She realized she had to step it up academically, especially during her second semester.
She worked as hard as she possibly could on her grades and even started an independent reading project during which she read approximately 30 novels from the Western canon on her own. In April of her senior year, she found out she had been put on Harvard's waitlist. Clearly, Harvard had wanted to see her end-of-year final grades to make sure she was keeping up academically and that she had done well on her AP exam for her AB Calculus course.
When she heard the news that she had been waitlisted, she sent Harvard a letter explaining her independent reading project and listing everything she had read. When her transcript scores came back?she received straight A's and A-'s on her finals and 5's on her APs?Harvard finally let her know, in mid-July, that she had been accepted. This could happen to you.Believe me, I know the allure of a "senior slide." I know how much pressure there is to let loose and have fun. Another counselor shared a story with me?by the way, we do not let this happen to IvyWise students!?about a student from a prestigious preparatory school who applied early decision to Duke.
He was accepted, although they were concerned about a B- he was getting in calculus. They even warned him, telling him and his high school college counselor it was important that he do something about it. But he didn't listen. In fact, he became cavalier after getting in and let his grade slide even further to a D.Later that spring, Duke rescinded its offer of admission.
Needless to say, the student was devastated. His parents were none too happy either. Since he had not applied anywhere else, the student ended up taking the year off to work. He retook calculus, got an A, reapplied to Duke, and got in. This may sound harsh, but Duke knew what it was doing.
Anyone who would pull a stunt like that is clearly not mature enough to go to college. A very humbling year later, the student finally took his first step onto the Duke campus, a bit older and a whole lot wise. Again, all I can do is ask you to envision that same first step onto the campus of your dreams.
It is a moment of ultimate freedom. You are finally an adult in the eyes of the world. You have your entire future at your feet. Don't mess that up.In summary, once you have turned in all your application materials, beware of the dreaded "senioritis." Colleges will be receiving your final transcripts and any irregularities in either academic or personal performance could force a college to rescind its offer of admission.
Just remember this time-honored truth: a little hard work now will pay big dividends later as you take that first step onto the college campus of your dreams..Katherine Cohen is the CEO & President of IvyWIse, http://www.ivywise.
By: Katherine Cohen