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Do Colleges Look at Senior Year Grades? Learn More

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When you’re approaching the end of your high school years, you likely already have your eyes and mind set on going to college. Whether you’re attending an online college or traditional campus, there’s a lot to look forward to. You may wonder, do colleges look at senior year grades? Is this a time when you can slack off and have fun with your friends, or do you have to continue to perform well academically?

We’ll cover everything you need to know about the importance of your senior year grades.

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Don’t Let Senioritis Affect Your Grades

As you get closer to graduating high school, you may become afflicted with senioritis. Senioritis is a term that’s used to describe the lack of motivation that students in their senior year may feel.

Although it may be hard to spot if you have senioritis based on your level of motivation, you may notice:

  • A drop in grades
  • That you are skipping class
  • That you’re submitting subpar assignments

If you feel indifferent about earning an A or a D (but still passing the class in both cases), then you may have senioritis. Besides being involved in what you’re learning and putting in the effort, knowing the value of your senior year grades can help you overcome senioritis.

The First Quarter or First Semester Grades

Depending on when you receive your college admissions letters, the use of your senior year grades could vary. For students who are applying for Regular Decision (as opposed to early decision or on a rolling admissions basis), then colleges will surely request your grades from your first quarter of senior year.

In the case of a semester schedule, then it is highly likely for the college to receive your first semester grades, unless they are late. This is submitted as part of the Mid-Year Report.

What is the Mid-Year Report?

On the Common Application for college, you’ll be asked to submit your grades at mid-year. For colleges that don’t use the Common Application, they’ll request these grades in a similar fashion. Once your grades from your first quarter or first semester become available, then you will attach your official transcript, which also includes the courses you are taking at the time.

But what happens if you’ve applied to college as an Early Decision or Early Action applicant? Most colleges will still want to be sent grades from your first quarter of senior year. However, their decision to accept or reject you into their institution will have already been made based on your grades from junior year.

While it sounds like this means your senior year grades are a moot point, that’s still not the case because of the mid-year report. Furthermore, the institutions still will see your course selection for senior year. At the end of the year, schools also receive an end-of-year report, so colleges can review your course load and GPA. If they notice a huge change from the rest of your high school career, it is technically possible that they can rescind your admission.

Since your grades are still of value, yet you’ll desire a tad more fun during this year, consider adding in some electives to your course load, like a cooking class, for example.

The Importance of Senior Year Grades

Your senior year grades impact your overall high school academic career. From affecting your GPA to potentially changing your position on college waitlists, senior year grades play a serious role in your college prospects.

Furthermore, you may have your hopes set on being the valedictorian. If you’ve been at the top of your class for the previous three years, then your final year is of equal importance to earn this title.

Other than just saying you did it, you maximize your chances of being accepted into college. This is especially true of public institutions, which may even guarantee automatic admission for students who perform in the top 10% of their high school’s graduating class.

Your senior year grades hold weight on your overall GPA, which is one of the components, along with SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, etc., that institutions review as part of the admissions process.

On the Waitlist? Don’t Slack

Along with the importance of mid-year and end-of-year reports, your senior grades have a bearing on other relevant factors.

For starters, it could be the case that you’ve been placed on the waitlist for your college of choice. Finishing out your senior year well and with high grades provides you with the best bet for moving off the waitlist and into the accepted position.

The Impact on Scholarships

For students who want essentially “free” money for college, scholarships are the way to go! You can and should begin applying for scholarships as soon as you are eligible. In many cases, students will start searching for scholarships in the spring. As such, your senior year grades from first semester will be a part of this process.

Your senior year provides colleges with a look at how you perform academically. It can make or break your scholarship chances. Since most scholarships also have a minimum GPA requirement, slacking off in senior year could ruin your chance at even applying for a scholarship in the first place.

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What High School Classes Do Colleges Look For?

Although your high school class schedule will be somewhat set without your say, there is a way to work the system to your advantage. In your freshman year of high school, you’ll be adapting to a change of pace from middle school. It’s a good idea to set a solid foundation by taking all your core academic classes as seriously as you can.

During your sophomore year, it’s usually the first time you’re able to add in some Advanced Placement (AP) classes to your schedule. It’s a good idea to do so. But, when choosing the subject matter, be sure to plan ahead and consider the courses you’ll want as part of your junior and senior year.

For college admissions, your junior year is likely going to be the most pressing and rigorous. Here, add more AP classes to your schedule and enroll in honors courses if you qualify. Even if you get a B in an AP class as opposed to an A in a regular class, colleges do pay attention to your courses in terms of the challenge you’re taking on.

You can still take AP classes in your senior year, but as mentioned before, give yourself a little bit of leeway by incorporating some fun electives that genuinely interest you, too.

What’s Senior Year Got to Do With It?

Even though you’re just one step away from starting college, your senior year provides you with a final chance to show colleges that you take academic life seriously and want to do your best. When you finish out your high school career on a high note, you can continue forward with that momentum as you start your new adventure as a college student.