`Senior slump’ could have severe consequences – Part 1

Many seniors feel as if the entire college admissions process is behind them; they’ve been accepted and made their final decision.  Some have “checked out” of high school early. They may be attending class, most of the time, but rarely doing any homework and just idling until graduation. Here is a letter from a mom of a senior.

  1. I’ve threatened punishment and offered rewards and still I can’t get my son to stay focused on school. He tells me I don’t know what I’m talking about when I say that colleges can change their minds. He also says that the teachers have relaxed. They’re watching movies in class and kids are heading out to lunch for a few hours. It’s just a different school environment once first semester ends. How realistic is it that an offer of admission will be rescinded?

Don’t let your kids catch “Senioritis” –

Colleges vary tremendously in how they handle a “senior slump.” Some give warnings, some place students on academic probation and some actually reverse their decisions. Every summer there’s a number of surprised students forced to scramble and make alternative plans for next fall.

Acceptance letters usually state that the acceptance is contingent on consistent performance. “Contingent with consistent performance” is purposefully open ended.

Most colleges aren’t likely to revoke acceptance unless there is a dramatic decline; floating from a B to a C in a single course will not turn heads. But a former A honor roll student getting C’s and D’s is a major red flag.

Something else that is considered is the college’s relationship with the high school. What, if any, backlash might accompany their decision? Some high schools don’t actively discourage these reversal decisions because they feel it will teach the next class a good lesson.

The most important, but least predictable, indicator is whether the college is over or under-subscribed. While we may know the total number on the wait list, we don’t know the true strength and depth of their wait list or their past yield history.

These decisions can sometimes be softened to an academic probation or summer school, but the truth is nobody knows, and this could be the year that more schools stick to their guns and send a message loud and clear.

Next week: Part 2 – What should seniors be doing?

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte: lee@collegeadmissionsstrategies.com ; www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com