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Do Colleges Look at Senior Year Grades?

With your college acceptance letter in hand, you might feel like you’ve scored a free ride for the rest of the year. After a stressful fall of applying to schools and considering majors, the burnout is real. At this point, you might be tempted to let commitments slide and ride out the remainder of your senior year. Why do grades matter when you’re already on your way to your dream school?

Senior Year Grades Matter

Getting accepted into college is a milestone worth celebrating, but a letter of acceptance isn’t set in stone. Some high school seniors make the mistake of thinking that with acceptance into their dream school, they no longer have to worry about grades or high school.

In reality, your grades senior year can matter very much to the college you’ll attend in the fall. Universities likely want the best and brightest on their campus, and if you finish out your high school career with failing grades, you could be letting the school down. Poor performance senior year can be an indicator to schools that you don’t take education seriously, or that you aren’t up to the challenge of higher education. An acceptance letter is merely an offer, not a binding contract.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling , 81% of colleges rated high school grades as a considerably important factor in the admission decision. In addition, 51% of college admissions officers also considered the strength of your curriculum during high school in their decision—so don’t think slacking off with easier classes will necessarily work in your favor.

Admission Could Slip Away with Your Grades

There’s no hard and fast rule as to what constitutes poor academic performance for a college but, as one college counselor puts it: “ One A can turn into a B, but if As [turn] into Cs and Ds they have the right to rescind.”
Every college has its own way of communicating with students when their grades slip. Some universities will send along a sort of warning letter, explains college admissions counselor Brennan Barnard in Forbes. This letter lets students know that the college admissions office is paying attention to their performance, and has noticed the drop in performance.

Some schools might ask for an explanation as to why your performance has suffered. They might contact your high school counselor’s office for additional perspective.

As Barnard explains, this practice is a formal warning, but also a nicety. Some schools won’t enact this step at all, and might simply rescind their acceptance offer. Other schools might put students with slipping grades onto academic probation for the Fall of their freshman year.

Dropping grades in your spring semester can also jeopardize your financial aid. Depending on the terms of your admission to a school, financial aid packages can be altered based on your academic performance. In one study, “students whose class rank dropped significantly by the time graduation rolled around lost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 per year.”

Bottom line, an acceptance offer is merely an offer until you get to campus. There’s fine print involved, and colleges are within their rights to look at your senior year grades and react accordingly.

Do You Need a GED to Get a College Degree?

If you are in jeopardy of failing multiple classes your senior year, you might be unable to graduate and get a high school diploma. In this case, colleges can rescind their offer based on admissions policies.

If it looks like you aren’t going to get your high school diploma before attending college in the fall, you might want to look into your college’s policy on admitting students without a diploma. An alternative is retaking classes over the summer to finish your high school education.

However, some schools don’t require you have a GED or equivalent experience to attend. Some community colleges have become more flexible when it comes to admission. Instead, the institution might need you to take a placement test or remedial courses before enrolling .

Planning for a Future Beyond College

Don’t let burnout and senioritis put your college career in peril. Try to maintain your grades senior year , and get in contact with your university if special circumstances keep you from this. Remember—you’re still proving to your future college that you’re worthy of attending. Don’t let failing grades keep you off campus in the fall.

As you think ahead to attending college, it’s also important to consider how you’ll finance your higher education—which for many means taking out student loans. When the time comes, and if your federal aid package just isn’t enough to cover your cost of attendance, you might consider taking out a private student loan with SoFi. SoFi offers no fees and the application process is done entirely online—an added convenience when you’re busy preparing for all of the other changes that come with beginning your college journey.

Learn more about financing your education with SoFi private student loans.

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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