Preparing for College

How Do Weak Final Senior Grades Affect Admission Decisions?

Question: Will the college I choose to attend ask for my final transcript in June? If I didn't do too well in the second semester (perhaps a low grade in AP Calc AB), will they take back my acceptance?

Colleges will insist on a final transcript from your high school, but they do not like to rescind offers of admission. Most do so only in extreme circumstances. If, for instance, you are ordinarily an "A" or "B" student and you get a "C" in one class in your last semester, that won't cause any problem at all. Even a "D" (or perhaps an "F") in a tough course like AP Calc probably won't hurt you. If your guidance counselor or teacher writes and explains that you tried very hard but just couldn't catch on, it will work in your favor.

When colleges ask for final transcripts, they are primarily checking to make sure that their admitted applicants didn't start partying the minute the fat acceptance letters arrived in the mailbox. Similarly, they are looking for signs of health or emotional concerns that might follow the candidate to campus (e.g, when an otherwise strong student finishes the year with several C's or D's, admission officials see that as a red flag that something beyond senioritis might be the cause).

If you feel you're already losing ground in your calc class, we recommend that you not wait until the spring to take action. Discuss with your teacher ways that you can get extra help--or extra credit--so you won't risk your admission acceptances. Such signs of early initiative on your part should put admission officials in your corner next June, if you need it.