Many institutions require the submission of a mid-year report highlighting first semester grades (and any other relevant developments) from already accepted seniors and also those whose early applications ended up in the wait-and-see pile. For borderline students whose application package may be teetering precariously between the proverbial thin and thick envelope stacks, a strong first semester performance can have a significant impact. If your standardized test scores and/or sophomore or junior year grades were not quite up to a college’s own definition of par, this is your chance to put together a strong first half of senior year and demonstrate an upward trajectory. Such efforts can be a determining factor in an admissions decision.
For early decision/action applicants, mid-year reports can serve a school’s insurance policy against the onset of senioritis. Each year, even the most selective colleges and universities are forced to send out their fair share of warning letters to students whose commitment to partake in “senior cut days” might be starting to outweigh their commitment to maintain that stellar GPA. Some schools even include preemptive warnings to students upon their early acceptance not to slack off, reminding students that admission can always be revoked.
College Transitions’ Tip: Seniors, focus on the present, even while planning for your future. It is tempting (and occasionally necessary) to spend hours perusing college websites, organizing campus visits and daydreaming about life after high school; but don’t do so at the expense of your current year grades, or all that planning may be for naught. Juniors, the key moment in avoiding the academic pitfalls of senior year takes place well before classes even begin; do not commit to a stronger course load than you can realistically handle. Remember that while stretching yourself by enrolling in five AP classes senior year will impress admissions officers in the fall, a transcript filled with C minuses will not please anyone at mid-year reporting time. To make a Dr. Philesque analogy, don’t sign up for a Ferrari schedule when you’re on a used Kia budget. Sure, it will look great in the driveway…until the first bill arrives. Account for the realities of senior year when planning your schedule. Challenge yourself with as many high-level classes as you can handle while accounting for things like extracurriculars, prom, volunteer work, enjoying your fleeting moments with cherished childhood friends, and, of course, filling out those college applications.