Tip of the Month: Starting the year strong (Those second semester grades matter!)

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Happy New Year, but arguably more importantly, Happy End of Application Season! First of all, congratulations on submitting your college applications. This is no easy feat and you did it! For many high school seniors this time of year comes with both relief and angst. You may be feeling this mix of emotions right now! On one hand, the heavy lifting is over and you have done what you needed to do. However, now you must wait for your decision. 

You’ve worked diligently the past few years taking rigorous courses, studying for tests, and being active in your school and local community, so now you can just sit back, relax, and wait until your decision is released, right?

Well, not quite. Sure, the hardest part is over, but it’s still important to finish the year strong because your second semester senior year grades really do matter. Though you’ve already submitted your application, institutions care that you are able to maintain the quality of your work.

Harvey Mudd requires our admitted students to send us their most recent set of senior year grades by July 1. We take a look at your grades to make sure everything is in order. If you’ve been consistent, we’re good to go! But, we do take action if we see anything especially out of the ordinary. If, for example, your grade goes from an A to an A-, there’s no cause for concern, but if you used to be a straight A student and your most recent grades show a significant drop, then we’ll reach out to you and ask for an explanation. These types of situations are handled on a case-by-case basis and outcomes can range from anything from a warning letter to actually having your admission rescinded.

When I was in high school, my peers told me that having your admission rescinded was a myth, and that colleges and universities don’t actually do that. I never knew anyone who had his or her admission rescinded, so I also thought it was a myth. Well, it’s not, but it’s also something that we really don’t want to do. If we contact you with concerns about academic performance, you’ll have a few days to write us a letter explaining the downward trend in grades and the admissions staff will have a conversation about what action to take.

If you’re curious, here are some words from an actual revocation letter:

The Admission Committee has reviewed your letter and has discussed your situation at length.  It is with regret that I inform you that your offer of admission has been revoked. 

As you are aware and as was written in your initial letter of admission, all offers of admission are conditional. It is the judgment of the Admission Committee that you did not complete your senior year well “in all matters related to character and academics”.

 We deeply regret this course of action.  Your file is now closed.

Again, this is a last resort, but also something that can happen. The moral of the story here is not to let Senioritis get the best of you. Hang in there and continue to try your hardest and not lose steam!

Written by Shayla