Admissions Office looks for signs of senioritis

Students whose grades drop second semester may receive warning letters or rescinded applications

For college applicants, admission to Penn is no excuse to slack off.

As high-school seniors across the country are preparing to learn of their Penn admissions decisions at 5 p.m. today, many of their minds may be wandering away from the last few months of high-school academics and toward the exciting realm of college.

This phenomenon, commonly called “senioritis,” is one that is familiar to many Penn students.

Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said the Office of Admissions usually sends warning letters to newly admitted students and their high-school counselors after a “pattern of lower grades” or a failing grade. The students are asked to provide an explanation, after which the Office of Admissions will decide on a suitable course of action.

“We’re not coming at this from a punitive perspective,” he said. “It’s one thing if the student has gotten into college and they make some minor sacrifices. At the other level, we want to know what’s underneath it.”

He said the Office of Admissions sometimes learns about family troubles or psychological disorders that had not previously been mentioned on an application. On infrequent occasions, Penn may also mandate a gap year for students the University deems unprepared to make the transition from high school to college.

Though no acceptances were rescinded last year, two students were required to take a year off to prepare themselves for Penn, according to Furda.

“We really approach this from a student welfare perspective,” Furda said.

Bev Taylor, founder of college consulting firm Ivy Coach, said that students need to be cautious of what they do outside of the classroom and during the summer as well.

“June of senior year can be a lot of fun, but using poor judgment that results in infractions may need to be reported to the admissions office,” she said.

Top Colleges Educational Consultant Steven Goodman, a 1989 Graduate School of Education alumnus, said senioritis and its consequences can dampen a student’s excitement for college.

Goodman said that students should start college on “positive footing” and should feel like “they can make a positive contribution.”

“The warning letters can really throw that off,” he said.

Michael Goran — a 1976 College graduate and founder of IvySelect College Consulting — agreed, adding that he hopes students who have been admitted to Penn will want to continue working hard in high school even after an acceptance letter is in their hand.

“The whole point of college is to continue that academic exploration,” he said. “You hope that they’re going to want to continue to learn for learning’s sake.”

Justin Taleisnik — who was admitted early decision from Beckman High School in Irvine, Calif. — said he has been trying his best to fight off senioritis.

“I think it’s just a sense of pride in that I’ve done well thus far and I’d like to finish strong and say I finished strong,” he said.

However, he said as an early admit, his experiences are different from those of his regular decision counterparts.

Ashley McKeithen — who applied regular decision from Morgan Park High School in Chicago, Ill. — said senioritis has “definitely” affected her, adding that she is actively counting down the number of days until the end of high school.

“I’m scared that if I’m having senioritis now, it may worsen in college for my freshman year,” she said. “Since it’s the ending of high school, I’m hoping that my freshman year will be a new beginning.”


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