The Ivy Coach Daily

May 3, 2010

Senior Slide and its Impact on College Admissions

How will a senior year slide impact your chances of admission to your dream school?

When reviewing our students’ senior course selections, we are often asked how senior year courses and grades are factored into college admissions decisions. The following are some typical questions that we receive:

Q. Since college admissions officers will only see my transcript through my junior year, how will they know what courses I’m taking in my senior year?

A. On most high school transcripts, there is a space for “courses in progress.” On every college application, there is also room to include senior year courses. On the Secondary School Report of the Common Application (see chart below), the student is expected to complete the top portion prior to submitting it to his/her school counselor who is required to verify its accuracy and attach a letter of recommendation.

Current year courses — please indicate title, level (AP, IB, advanced honors, etc.) and credit value of all courses you are taking this year. Indicate quarter classes taken in the same semester on the appropriate semester line.

First Semester/Trimester Second Semester/Trimester Third Trimester

______________  ______________ ______________

______________  ______________ ______________

______________  ______________ ______________

______________  ______________ ______________

______________  ______________ ______________

______________  ______________ ______________

______________  ______________ ______________

Q. What would be a typical senior year course load for students who are applying to Ivy League colleges? I’ve already taken five advanced placement courses, and so I was hoping to get a break in my senior year and take easier courses.

A. Senior year is definitely not the time to take a break! College admissions officers want to know that as a senior you’re continuing to take the most rigorous and challenging courses in all five core disciplines (English, history, math, science, and foreign language) and that you’re excelling in those courses. For example, if you’re planning on applying as a science major, you want to have taken all of the AP science courses offered and that would include AP Chemistry, AP Biology, and AP Physics. If you’re passionate about math and you’ve already taken AP Calculus BC, you would want to take Multivariable Calculus. Whatever your academic passion may be, you want to max-out in that discipline. To more specifically answer your question, it is rather typical for students who are applying to Ivy League and other highly selective colleges to have six AP courses during their senior year.

Q. How will colleges see my senior year grades if they’re not on my transcript?

A. When applying Early Action or Early Decision, some colleges may ask for your first quarter grades — especially if your junior year grades are less than stellar. When applying Regular Decision, most colleges will ask you to submit your first semester senior year grades. If your first or second quarter grades do not present a clear picture of your academic strengths and since admissions decisions for most highly selective colleges are not released until April, you may be asked to submit your third quarter grades. Your senior year grades can indeed be a conclusive factor in the admissions decision.

Both through academics and extracurricular activities, senior year is a time for you to build on your strengths, experiences, passions, and talents. It’s a time for you to prepare for all of the challenges that lay ahead in college and in your future endeavors. So, make the most of this exciting year, have fun but stay focused. And when you receive your admissions decisions, your dreams may very well become a reality.

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